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The Erlking Essay

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Madsen Hardy has a doctorate in English literature and is a freelance writer and editor. In the following essay, she discusses how Carter both borrows and diverges from the traditional fairy tale "Little Red Ridinghood" in her story "The Erlking."

All of the stories in The Bloody Chamber re-imagine the plots and revisit the themes of traditional fairy tales, making explicit their sexual subtexts. For example, Carter offers several different versions of "Little Red Ridinghood" and "Beauty and the Beast" that focus on innocent young girls' seduction by animalistic men. Carter observes in her introduction to The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book, that "most fairy tales are structured around the relations between men and women," thus offering an opportunity to look at these relations in all of their complexities and variations. But Carter laments how fairy tales have been simplified and sanitized in their transition from a...

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This section contains 1,976 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Erlking Study Guide
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The Erlking from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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