New Meaning to Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood

New Meaning to Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood

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New Meaning to Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood  


There is more to Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood than meets the eye, or perhaps that is exactly where the analysis comes into play because the formalistic approach of analyzing literature consists of looking at a piece of literature and stating what is obviously there. The formalistic approach does give the work a deeper meaning than it first had, but the details are usually plain and easily noticeable. Generally they are very obvious, thus easily overlooked. The formalistic approach may be limited to pointing out the continual use of one word, but after noticing this fact a new meaning must be found as well. The reader is able to develop a broader understanding to Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood after using the formalistic approach to delve deeper into the poem. The formalistic approach reveals Broumas' use of repetition and choice of words give extra significance to her poem Little Red Riding Hood.

The easiest way to set about using the formalistic approach is to first read the poem paying careful attention to repetition, breaks, and description that may not have been noticed during the first reading. Using this technique on Little Red Riding Hood reveals an emphasis placed on the word old. Broumas writes,

I grow old, old
Without you, Mother, landscape
Of my heart.


The use of old can be read in two different ways. One approach could place more emphasis on the repetition of old, whereas the other could draw it toward "old without you." Either way it is read one realizes that the author is growing old without her mother. However reading it the first way adds about ten more years to her life because she is very old. The second way can be taken to literally mean that the author is a lot older without her mother. The description of her mother foreshadows a strict parent. It takes a lot of work to landscape a yard, and if the mother landscaped her daughter's heart it took a lot of work and a lot of rules.

Broumas continues the poem with a description of her mother giving birth. She uses phrases like "stretching it like a wishbone", "skin strung on a bow", and "tightened against the pain" to reveal to the reader that labor is not easy, in fact just the opposite because it is strenuous and very difficult.

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Broumas uses the phrase "red hood" not to describe a cap made by a kind grandmother, but rather the blood around the baby's head right after birth. These are aspects of the poem that might be overlooked if Little Red Riding Hood was not read using the formalistic approach. These phrases add strength to the poem's meaning and help paint a picture in the reader's head by using the formalistic approach the reader is able to identify certain parts of the work that utilize words and phrases.

In the fourth stanza of the poem Broumas uses certain words to hint at the poem's origin, the Grimms' Little Red Riding Hood. She uses the phrase "all the better to see with, to hear, and to eat…" to let the reader know that she is making reference to the old fairy tale, just as she did with "red hood" in the third stanza. In the fourth stanza Broumas again makes reference to the Grimms' brothers when the mother warns her daughter to,

Stick to the road and forget the flowers, there's
Wolves in those bushes, mind
Where you got to go, mind
You get there.


This message is very similar to the message from the mother in the original Little Red Riding Hood. Go where you are supposed to go, and don't get distracted by anything along the way. The use of mind in this warning is almost like a subliminal message sent to little red riding hood. The word mind is at the end of two lines in a row, as if the mother is saying, "Mind me. Mind me." The formalistic approach gives the reader a chance to pick up on messages such as this one and on references to other works of literature.

With the use of the formalistic approach the reader can have an epiphany about the theme of a poem, or perhaps simply grasp the author's message a little more tightly. In the case of Broumas' Little Red Riding Hood using the formalistic approach places emphasis on certain words such as old and mind, which is a good thing because Broumas wanted those words to stand out in the first place which is why she placed them in a certain manner. Practice enables a reader to begin using the formalistic approach unconsciously and simply paying attention to word choice.
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