By Angela Carter
Fairy Tales tend to start off dark and progress to have a happy ending or, failing that, to teach a lesson. Angela Carter does an excellent job of this in her short story “The Werewolf”. This is her take on “Little Red Riding Hood”. This is not the classic spin on the original fairy tale however, in Angela’s take on it we will explore ageism, sexism, and greed.
Though the story casts a once-upon-a-time aura, the lessons learned from it are as modern as the IPhone you might have in your pocket. Historically we have not changed much, “the old days” when women were just seen as objects, are not far behind us. The first line of the story, “it is a northern country; they have cold weather, they have cold hearts,” The “Northern Country” being described is Angela’s Northern England. The “cold hearts” are the countrymen who would put youth on high and abuse old women. The first proof of Angela’s use of lifting children on high and of sexuality is shown when, in the house there is a, “crude icon of the virgin behind a guttering candle”. The “virgin” is the Virgin Mary, and the “guttering candle” is a prayer candle. The virgin represents the glorification of youth and maidenhood; since the virgin is almost always represented as a young girl. Angela’s use of “icon” shows that the veneration of youth is widespread, and the use of the Virgin Mary along with the word “crude” shows Angela’s distaste for the practice. She sees this as proof that, in a man’s eyes, when a woman loses her sexuality then she also loses her value. The use of the virgin and candle also places the church at fault for the ageist and sexist practices; further proved when the child “crosses herself” before screaming for help.
The werewolf is the grandmother in reality. However, the only proof of this is the wart on her finger and the little girl’s word. The fact that this turns out to be enough evidence to stone the grandmother to death, further proves the town’s...