The Feminist Twist in Angela Carter's Werewolf Tales

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The origins of the second wave of Feminism can be traced back to the 1970s and the 1980s. A great number of women started writing and publishing books about the so-called notion of “Feminity”. Unlike the first wave of Feminism, which was a suffragist movement in which women were asking the right to vote, the second wave of Feminism goes beyond that. The feminist thinkers of the second wave based their theory on gender stereotyping. They claimed that equality between men and women had not been fully achieved because biological sex was the basis to determine the role a man or a woman must play in society.

Angela Carter's The Werewolf and Company of Wolves

The first reason why we can consider these texts as feminist is the issue of “authority and independence”. This is the first time that someone gives a feminist twist concerning gender roles, due to the fact that it is the first time that the woman is represented as independent in a tale. The main characters of both stories depict a great deal of self-fulfilment. In both Carter’s The Werewolf and Company of Wolves, the girl is represented as an independent and skilled person, in order to show femininity not suppressed by the male-controlled society but a society in which women are considered as equal to men. This notion is reflected in both The Company of Wolves and The Werewolf when the girl goes on her own to the forest and it is said to her “here, take your father’s hunting knife; you know how to use it”.

The second reason why we can consider these texts as feminist is the issue of the subordinate position of women in relation to men. Men, in former times, have been considered to be the absolute, while “the other” was the woman. In Company of Wolves, the man represents the predator and the woman, his prey, but, in this case, the prey fights the predator. However, in The Werewolf, the wolf turns out to be the main character’s grandmother. The reader can observe that gender roles had changed and a woman portrays the werewolf for the first time. Moreover, the girl is given a hunting knife to protect herself form the dangers of the forest, which shows us that the girl is self-fulfilled.

The third issue why the present texts can be considered to be feminist is “the traditional role of women and men are expected to fulfil”. Formerly, women were expected to work at home as well as being “the weak sex”. Both stories, however, depict quite a different thing. In Carter’s The Werewolf, the main character is not weak but rather strong as can be appreciated in the scene in which she has to fight a werewolf and therefore, have its paw cut off.

Another issue we can see is sexual and bodily elements. In both texts, the young girl is a symbol of purity, innocence and young beauty. Specifically in Company of Wolves, the young girl uses her sexual power to intoxicate the lustful power and survive. The character plays with her sexuality and it is reflected when she tells the wolf that if he arrives first to her grandmother’s house, she would give him a kiss, as well as when she throws his clothes to the fire. This issue was significant because female sexuality has always been seen as an evil thing that should be hidden. However, women should value their sexuality and use it carefully to empower their femininity.

To synthesize, we can say that both texts supposed a huge change, due to the fact that Angela Carter gave a feminist twist to traditional tales in which the man is superior to the woman. Even though both texts were written during the 70s, when the second wave of feminism was taking place and despite of this movement emerged in order to report the inequality between women and men as well as that ideas of the biological sex is used as a basic idea to determinate the role a man or a woman must have in society, nowadays, society is still contaminated by patriarchy. Thus, we still have a lot to fight to eliminate these paleolithic ideas.

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