The World's Wife 'Little Red-Cap'

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How true would it be to say that ‘Little Red-Cap’ is representative of the body of Carol Ann Duffy’s collection ‘The World’s Wife’?

Duffy includes a range of themes, which are portrayed in an idiosyncratic way within the collection ‘The World’s Wife’. Most prominently ‘Little Red-Cap’ focuses on the issues of female dominance whilst contrasting it with female exploitation. Alongside, qualities of ambition and independence Duffy can represent her female characters as significant and therefore hinder men’s reputation in the current patriarchal society. This point is further elucidated by Michael Woods who stated ‘the poet fuses these ideas to reinforce the unremitting nullity that is forced upon many women when they are required to take a man's name in place of their own. In fact, the central theme of The World's Wife is encapsulated in this critique upon male arrogance.’ [1]. Particularly this is something Duffy concentrates on in ‘Queen Herod’, ‘Mrs Rip Van Winkle’, ‘Thetis’ and ‘Mrs Aesop’ alongside ‘Little Red-Cap’.

In order to intensify the value of women in society Duffy typically portrays her female characters as more dominant than the males. In ‘Little Red-Cap’ the adolescent’s control is clear especially in the final and penultimate stanzas as the twist on the original tale of Little Red Riding Hood ‘I took an axe to the wolf as he slept, one chop’ gives the narrator the power to dominate over the controlling, male character. Her impatience to escape the wolf’s rugged seduction is especially evident from Duffy’s use of enjambment between these two stanzas where she ‘took an axe / to a willow to see how it wept’. Further her power is apparent from the last line, ‘singing, all alone’, as Duffy explicates the satisfaction with her triumphant victory over the dark character without the assistance from the hero, typically being a male character. Duffy identifies the problem in which men are portrayed in ‘Queen Herod’ where women commonly see men,...
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