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The Wolf in history and folklore
A fear of wolves would have been sensible when
packs roamed the countryside.
Fear easily becomes superstition – and wolves
quickly began to be seen as otherworldly,
unnatural, evil creatures.
This became reflected in folk tales and fairy tales.
Dracula could apparently turn himself into a wolf
(as well as a bat or even mist). The big bad wolf
became a stock character that children were taught
The Big Bad Wolf
The Big Bad Wolf was known for:
• Talking to children and tricking them
• Stalking little girls and little pigs
• Destroying property with a huff and a puff
• Masquerading as grandmothers to lure prey
• Impersonating sheep in order to sneak up on prey
• Attacking livestock when your back is turned
• Devouring whole families of goats
Who IS the Big Bad Wolf?
Is he an actual wolf, a werewolf, or a person who
acts in a wolfish way? Is he symbolic?
Are real wolves evil?
They are predators, but that is their
nature – and ours too, if we think about it.
They are pack animals, with a clearly defined
hierarchy. Only Alphas produce cubs, which are
looked after by the rest of the pack.
OK, their howl is a bit spooky… but that’s about
This advert is a
feature from the
It plays with our
the Big Bad Wolf…
Many modern Big Bad Wolves
present alternative ideas to
the traditional stories.
They often explore whether the wolf has been
somehow slandered or misrepresented by the
The wolf may be a loyal, protective character. We
might feel sympathetic towards the wolf; we might
even be on his side.
Carol Ann Duffy’s wolf
In her poem ‘Little Red-Cap’,
Duffy presents us with a
wolf who is seduced by a
16 year-old Little Red and
has a relationship with her.
He is older than she is, drinks
red wine and likes reading poetry.
Little Red asks, at one point, “what little girl doesn’t
dearly love a wolf?” – what do you think this means?
Angela Carter’s Wolves
We are going to focus on the following stories:
• The Werewolf
• The Company of Wolves
Based on the Little Red Riding Hood story
Read through the story carefully and make
notes, focusing on:
• The setting of the story
• How the characters from the original story
have been adapted
How do you respond to the ending of the story?
Is it a satisfying ending?
What do you think this story is about?
• Attitudes towards female power
• The brutality of fairy tales
• The vulnerability of wolves
The Company of Wolves
Also based on Little Red Riding Hood
Make notes on the following:
• The setting
• The character of the wolf
• The character of the girl
The Company of Wolves
How has Carter adapted the original story this
• Motifs – both from the original and from
other stories in Carter’s collection
The Company of Wolves
Compare this to The Werewolf –
what similarities and differences
can you identify?
This story invites you to compare
what it is like to be human, and
what it is like to be a wolf.
Alice is a feral child, meaning she is ‘wild’. She has
been raised by wolves.
She comes into conflict with human society, which
values ‘civilised’ behaviour.
How would you reflect on Alice’s behaviour in the
• How she interacts with others
• How she understands the world
• How she understands right and wrong
How does this compare to the Duke’s behaviour?
Carter’s presentation of wildness and civilisation:
Consider the following word pairs – which is ‘wild’
and which is ‘civilised’ in the story?
a) human / animal
b) natural / unnatural
c) tame / wild
d) confined / free
e) innocent / knowing
Can you add any more to this list?
Many of Carter’s standard motifs and themes
feature in this story:
How does Carter use these in Wolf-Alice?
What is this story about?
a) Is it a Romantic view of the innocence of
children and animals?
b) Is it attempting to show that wolves are not
the frightening monsters they are often
assumed to be?
c) Is it a ‘coming of age’ story about growing up
and finding your place in the world?
What conclusions can you draw about the
character of the wolf in Carter’s stories?
Create a mind map,
including brief quotations.
Brainstorm ways of adapting the Little Red
Riding Hood story, using Carter’s texts as
• Narrative viewpoint