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Can Carol Ann Duffy’s “Little Red Cap” Be Classified as a Fairy Tale?

Most of us have a clear perception of what fairy tales are, or what we assume them to be. More than the past century, these tales have been burdened with so several clich’s, such as evil queens’ curses and damsels-in-distress, that we tend to recognize them primarily based on the presence of such clich’s. The fairy tale scholar Kate Bernheimer suggests that when attempting to figure out what a fairy tale is, clich’d themes play an insignificant part. According to her, a fairy tale’s most distinctive qualities are its underdeveloped characters, nonsensical logic and lack of description. Her aesthetic and unrestricted definition allows broad interpretation of what constitutes a fairy tale. Nonetheless, considering that most well-liked fairy tales do appear to consistently share certain formal characteristics, such as a narrative structure, simple imagery and superficial characters, it is simple to assume that if a tale does not comply with a comparable outline then it is not a fairy tale. “Little Red Cap” is an autobiographical poem, by Carol Ann Duffy, which presents a female point of view on Tiny Red Riding Hood whilst outlining Duffy’s connection with an older man. Usually, folks do not determine it as a fairy tale because it lacks numerous features that fairy tales are generally related with. In “Fairy Tale is Kind, Type is Fairy Tale,” Bernheimer states that the 4 “formal elements (although there are other individuals) comprise the challenging logic of tales” (64). By adding “though there are others” in brackets, she permits modification of her definition. Through examining it via the lens of Bernheimer’s ideas, I will show that “Little Red Cap” by Carol Ann Duffy is a fairy tale. Flatness is the initial aspect Bernheimer listed as an identifying function of fairy tales, and Duffy makes use of this strategy as effectively, albeit limitedly. Flatness refers to the “absence of depth” (Bernheimer 66) in characters which allows readers to engage with the text. According to Bernheimer, flatness is used so that the audience can be a lot more engaged and picture particular character attributes. Duffy, nevertheless, makes use of flatness for metaphorical causes. For example, the grandmother could be regarded a flat character since she is only mentioned as soon as: “I took an axe to the wolf as he slept, 1 chop, scrotum to throat, and saw the glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” (Duffy 4). She is a symbol rather than a character the phrase “virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” is a metaphor for the generations of women who have been oppressed by males. “Glistening virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” denotes that all the oppressed ladies have been free and regain their pride. Therefore, Duffy’s poem utilizes flatness to permit folks to engage with the text by permitting them to relate to it. Even though “Little Red Cap” does not use this method precisely as Bernheimer described, it does effectively use flatness to market audience engagement. Despite the fact that Duffy does not use the very same method that Bernheimer describes, her poem achieves the very same purpose that fairytales do. Bernheimer lists “flatness” as 1 of the crucial elements of a fairy tale considering that “it permits depth of response in the reader” (67). The assumption underlying her claim here is that 1 of the features of fairytales is that it makes it possible for deep responses from readers, which Duffy’s poem also does. Firstly, the allegorical nature of this poem enables readers to interpret the man, on whom the “wolf” is primarily based, in their own manner. Duffy supplies her audience with the choice to either read the story superficially or delve into the underlying meanings and explore the characters on a more individual level. Secondly, the poem makes use of imagery to invite a reflective response from the audience. For instance, the descriptive lines “I crawled in his wake, my stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer…I lost both footwear but got there” (three) exemplify Duffy’s use of intricate imagery and complicated syntax in order to invoke a response in the reader. This sequence of events outlines Little Red Cap’s journey throughout the poem: she falls for a dominant lover, the relationship strips her of her innocence, she kills the wolf and loses the last shred of her purity, but is capable to free of charge herself. This is just one particular of the numerous interpretations hidden inside “Little Red Cap”. Though Bernheimer states that flatness provokes a deep response, Duffy does the exact same by way of her nicely-rounded poem. Bernheimer declares that in fairy tales, “things take place that have no relevance apart from the impact of language” (68), and the very same applies for Duffy’s “Little Red Cap”. Fairy tales typically use intuitive logic to generate an uncomplicated story which doesn’t encourage readers to query the events that transpire. In contrast, Duffy’s version uses the technique to encourage deeper understanding of the function. In the poem, the protagonist “took an axe to a willow to see how it wept” and “took an axe to the wolf as he slept” (Duffy 4). This statement is an example of nonsensical syntax in the poem. Very first Small Red Cap was speaking about how life with the wolf was becoming monotonous, as he grew older, and then all of a sudden she was speaking about cutting issues open as nicely as killing the wolf. The willow and salmon have no significance to the story of “Little Red Cap” but is crucial in terms of language. A salmon is usually noticed as a symbol of determination. Right here, Duffy wonders how far she would go to get out of the scenario. Not only does the rhyming pattern of “wept”, “leapt” and “slept” enhance the momentum of the story, but it also foreshadows the violent turn that the story is going to take. The symbolism and use of rhyme shows the effect of language. Via using intuitive logic to prioritize the effect of language, Duffy’s poem adheres to Bernheimer’s definition of a fairy tale. Bernheimer believes that in a fairy tale is a story which “enters and haunts you deeply” (68), and Duffy’s poem does this through its nature. In contrast to most versions of Little Red Riding Hood which focus on unrealistic events, this poem presents a predicament that several readers have faced. In the poem, Duffy provides a voice to the protagonist who has been silenced. This is particularly relatable for women who have been in relationships with males who don’t comprehend or listen to their opinions. Additionally, Duffy shows that the romance and adventure of a new relationship fades with time, and this is anything that several adult readers can associate with. In addition to this, the poem also suggests that Duffy’s creativity and poetic talent were suppressed throughout this time. The violent and sexual nature of the poem, and the haunting images that Duffy paints through her special poem undoubtedly constitutes a story which haunts you deeply. Throughout the book “Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale”, Bernheimer tends to make statements that are not explicitly included in her definition of what constitutes a fairy tale, but are indeed elements of fairy tales. By examining these statements very carefully, we can modify Bernheimer’s definition and adapt it to describe the contemporary retellings of classic fairy tales. Duffy’s “Little Red Cap” utilizes flatness and intuitive logic, two of the four elements Bernheimer listed in her book, and fulfills the same ambitions as fairy tales. Therefore, “Little Red Cap” adheres to the unrestricted definition and is classified a fairy tale. Sources: Bernheimer, Kate. Fairy Tale is Form, Kind is Fairy Tale. 2014. Duffy, Carol Ann. “Little Red Cap.” The World’s Wife. Print. London: Picador, 2000, pp. three-four

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