In the Company Of

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Children hear the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” a great many times as a warning to exercise caution before rushing to judgment, that is, taking what is on the outside as an indication of what is on the inside. They are taught that this is especially true when it comes to people. The concept that looks can be deceiving helps prepare children early for the different masks that people wear. Additionally, the message many times appears to be a one way street. When someone says looks can be deceiving, the message is often interpreted and applied to those who look malicious and evil or perhaps ugly but may have a heart of gold. This ignores that one appearing weak and innocent can be a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. This difference in concept of deceitful looks is what sets Angels Carter’s “In the Company of Wolves” apart from the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault. The main theme and moral of both stories is the same - that looks can be deceiving. However, each presents the reader with a dichotomy that leads to an interesting juxtaposition in presentation.
Carter and Perrault both offer interesting insight in their short stories depicting the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood by the symbolism of the wolf and flip in moral. In “Little Red Riding Hood”, Charles Perrault uses the wolf as both a religious symbol and a symbol for men who prey on those weaker and more naïve than themselves, usually women. The devilish wolf is sneaky and cunning and at every opportunity has “a very great mind to eat her up” in the woods, but instead makes a deal with her. Like the classic devil, he charms her with his manners and suavely offers her his assistance. The child herself is naïve, or as Perrault puts it, ...

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...d the flip in moral to highlight the complexity of figuring out who is a wolf and who is sheep because sometimes you can't tell by just seeing what is on the outside without seeing what is on the inside.
Carter and Perrault use the wolf as different symbology for the same moral. It is clear from the beginning that the wolf was never really a wolf but rather an expression for the way we view men by both the skin they wear and the tricky games they play. In “Little Red Riding Hood”, the wolf tricks the child and the grandma and eats them both while in “In the Company of Wolves”, the virtuous-appearing child uses her sexuality to seduce and defeat the wolf after the wolf eats her grandmother. The moral of both authors is something akin to the common saying “trust, but verify” - those who appear trustworthy and familiar can still be a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.
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