top of page
  • Writer's pictureLaliana

Angela Carter’s fairy tales

Rima Staines, Kakuarshuk, included in Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales

In 1979, Carter radicalized the fairy tale in her collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber. Taking great care not to parody or pastiche the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers or Perrault, she creates new stories based on old tales to articulate feminist ideas, explore male sexual desires and subvert the traditional roles of fairy-tale women.

Carter refuses to jam her new stories into the Disney-esque framing device of “Once Upon a Time” and “Happily Ever After”.

In The Company of Wolves, the young virgin is foolish enough to stray from the path and is seduced by a wolf in the guise of a ‘handsome young man’. But unlike Little Red Riding Hood the girl is not gobbled up by the Big Bad Wolf, instead she ends up in bed with him, between the paws of the tender wolf. The story depicts the young girl’s sexual awakening, her journey into womanhood, and the cunning astuteness that comes with such maturity. She beats the Wolf at his own game, and mirroring Beauty’s raucous guffaw, she burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s meat. Carter disregards Perrault’s moral (don’t talk to strangers), and instead suggests that masculinity is not something to be feared.

The moral of The Bloody Chamber: be bawdy, loudly guffaw, don’t be afraid of wolves or tigers, and most of all, don’t hang around waiting on a prince to save you, it’s most likely that you’ll have to save yourself.

Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is not meant for children. Full of Gothic imagery, violence and sex. Carter disagreed with the way women were always depicted in the traditional fairy tales, believing that the message being sent to young girls was that women were weak and powerless and always required a strong, handsome man to come save the day.

Carter revised stories and vocalized her opinions of women’s role in society and through these stories she showed that women could be strong.

Angela Carter used feminism and sexuality as writing tools when revising and retelling popular fairy tales. Her revisions of fairy tales were important to the Feminist Movement and literature in general because it gave women a voice in a genre in which they historically hadn’t been well portrayed.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page