Feminist Retellings: Deconstructing Perrault's Fairy Tales in Angela Carter's Works

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Why Knowledge of Perrault's Tales Matters for Understanding Carter's Rewritings

Understanding Charles Perrault's original fairy tales, such as "Bluebeard" and "Cinderella," is crucial for interpreting Angela Carter's reimagined versions. Carter builds upon Perrault's narratives, introducing feminist perspectives and challenging traditional tropes.


In Perrault's "Cinderella," the father's role in his daughter's mistreatment is notably absent. Maria Tatar argues that Perrault, writing for an affluent audience, avoids placing blame on male figures. Carter, however, metafictionally highlights the father as the "unmoved mover," dismantling the stereotypical image of the wicked stepmother and exposing the patriarchal structures within the tale.


Perrault's "Bluebeard" emphasizes the dangers of female disobedience and curiosity. Carter subverts this moral, focusing instead on the protagonist's pursuit of knowledge as a means of escaping her husband's tyranny. Furthermore, she replaces Perrault's male hero with a powerful female figure—the protagonist's mother—showcasing female agency and solidarity.

Woolf's Impressionistic Style in "Kew Gardens"

This fragment from "Kew Gardens" exemplifies Virginia Woolf's signature lyrical style, often likened to Impressionist painting. Consider these lines:

  • Line 1: "Perhaps..."
  • Line 3: "red or blue or yellow petals"
  • Lines 6-7: "and when they moved the red, blue and yellow lights passed"
  • Lines 10-11: "intensity of red, blue and yellow"
  • Lines 17-18: "the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July."

Through vivid descriptions of colors and shapes, Woolf creates a literary canvas, mirroring the techniques of Impressionist art. Her innovative approach to writing, influenced by her interest in science, aimed to capture the fleeting nature of perception and experience.

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