The company of wolves. The study guide
AO1: (CLEAR) there is a preamble in which Angela Carter delves
into the back story of wolves, she gives a few examples and there is
one particular story that seems to be the main focus of the back story.
This preamble enables carter to build suspense and fear, so that
when we eventually get to the main plot, we already have
preconceptions of wolves and what they are capable of, this is
interesting as in a typical gothic story you would have a peaceful
beginning and then slowly climb up to the height of the climax
however with this one, it is the opposite. She begins with fearful tales
of werewolves and what they have done, and then eventually gives us
the main plot which does not end in tragedy. However this then
makes the story even more climactic because she has given us false
pretences of what wolves can do, and stories of fear and suffering so
the reader then assumes that the girl will die in the end or it will end
badly however the opposite happens, she takes control.
(AO2)We are shown the girl to be pure and innocent ‘she is an
unbroken egg’ here carter clearly conveys the girls virginity and
naivety, the use of ‘egg’ shows her to be something fragile as an egg is
delicate, and has connotations of nature as it is an animal’s offspring.
However it could also have connotations of fowl and gone off. The us
of ‘unbroken’ is that it suggests the possibility of corruption as it can
be ‘broken’, coupled with ‘egg’ conveys how easy it could be to
corrupt her as an egg is easily broken. Therefore making her an
easier target and also portraying her as the victim, again the back
story of wolves supports that.(AO3) However another interpretation
could be that she was searching for a wolf, as she is going through the
forest and she knows the danger yet she still does, and when she sees
her grandmother is gone and he is there, there is no surprise or
shock ‘ The girl burst out laughing; she knew she was nobody’s
meat.’ This goes against what we have just been told about her
upbringing and we automatically have a clear perception of
A feminist interpretation- she is taking control, showing men to be
weak and pathetic, this is shown throughout carter’s stories, bloody
chamber the man is shown to be a monster, the snow child a
complete pervert and the company of wolves she takes control. AO4.
It is perverse as the last the grandmother sees before she dies was
‘his genitals huge, Ah huge!’ the repetition of ‘huge’ adds to the
gothic nature as it is threatening, which is interesting as you would
not describe ‘genitals’ in such a manner. Furthermore feminist
approach, as they are describing his genitals, it is so open and crude
that it is attacking and degrading the very essence of manhood. Also
shown in the bloody chamber, where the male crudely describes her
breasts, degrading her.
Human emotions- fear,lust,betrayal –women remarries, pain.
Nature- solstice cycle, wolves –animals etc, forest.
Relationships- between girl and grandmother, girl and wolf, wolf and
Gothic Nature: the woods, the setting of the tale is already adding to
the gothic nature it seems very foreboding and ominous. ‘the forest
closed upon her like a pair of jaws’ has connotations of wolfish
behaviour and animalistic actions. The suspense is created at the
beginning of the story. The facts about the wolves presents a sense of
fear as a preconception is made in the reader’s mind which then adds
fear to the reader as they can anticipate what is to occur.
Another key gothic feature is romance which is conveyed between the
wolf and ‘little red riding hood’, ‘between the paws of the tender
Connections to other texts:
The company of wolves has a running theme of nature this is shown
by the use of the solstice cycle ‘
The use of animals and forests, eerie places that add to the gothic
AND are also seen in Frankenstein with their constant use of scenery,
the company of wolves has a key component of forests ‘on the
blotched trunks of the trees;’. However Frankenstein and the
company of wolves contrast in their use of scenery as the company of
wolves uses the forest as a way to create fear ‘…forest closed upon
her like a pair of jaws.’