Carter sets out to explore the idea of metamorphosis through using the patriarchal orientated traditional fairy tale. She uses Gothic themes of violence, horror, eroticism, injustice, doubling and ureason to dramatise her sense of world paradigms breaking down. The themes in her work reveal her intense fascination with the Freudian unconscious . Carter may have re-imagined the fairy tale, but her work is not just an exercise of imagination; her work is political and is not confined only to feminine politics but reflects psycho social concerns, in particular does it reproduce a `psychological` ideology in which the will of the individual is subordinated to family and society.
The first fairy tale I have chosen is the WEREWOLF. This story represents the nightmare of a Doppelganger encounter and exposes the moral insanity of a community. The tale is a brilliant example of how narrative can be utilised both as a device to entertain and to elecit a prescribed psychological response from the reader, and further subvert the grand narrative of history.
Carter`s visit to the old tale of Red Riding Hood begins with the establishment of repetition through the repetition of the word `cold`. It is a northern country, they have cold hearts, cold hands and cold weather. Through the use of this narrative device she introduced the idea that the variety of experience to be encountered in this type of environment is reduced to a kind of serial repetition, subtly conveying at the same time a sense of affirmation of the eternal return of the same
Her story is focused on a time-locked community where devils and vampires still hold sway. This evokes an image of a community which is resistant to development. furthering the idea of stagnation which was provoked by the use of repetition. She has used this device for pointing out the mental rigidity of characters caught in an inescapable predicament. It also serves to point out how the ideology of the past is contained in the present. In particular it reflects womens relational position through time to patriarchal idelogy.
The use of repetition also gives us the readers a sense of security as we enter Carter`s fictional world. But it is a fragile security, as it is a security engendered only to expose our present understanding of the nature of reality to radical challenge. This kind of cosy familiarity is further extended through Carter`s narrative reportive voice laying special emphasis on the image of a `good` child. We note the word `good` is used in relation to the child`s doing as her mother bids her, bringing in the idea of goodness as conditional on obeying an external imperative. This brings into focus not only the question of an `objective` good, but reflects the stories of many innocent people who give of their life force in the hope of winning love and approval, by obeying the dictates of an `other`.
The cost of disobedience to the child could be the cost of her life because of the dangerous animals to be found in the wood. But this is no ordinary child, as we soon find out when the text of Carters tale violates the known and familiar and the authority of the original story teller by turning the ideology which was embedded in the original tale of Red Riding Hood of an innocent and good child on its head.