'Little Red Riding Hood' in the 21st Century: adaptation, archetypes, and the appropriation of a fairy tale
This interdisciplinary, archetypal study considers the numerous adaptation processes and techniques involved in the transposition of the fairy tale from one medium to another, exploring post-2000 adult adaptations and appropriations of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ across a variety of high-art and popular media, such as advertising, video gaming, and fine art, with a focus on literature and film. As well as examining explicit re-tellings of the tale such as Catherine Hardwicke’s 'Red Riding Hood' (2011), more implicit and intertextual references are discussed, with the intention of acknowledging the pervasive, and at times, unconscious nature of the adaptation process. This can be seen in films like 'The Village' (2004), 'Hard Candy' (2005) and the television series 'Merlin' (2008 - ). As a means of analysing the material I adopt a feminist-Jungian theoretical model which enables the consideration of the mythological and ideological concepts inherent to the works. Specifically, this establishes how Red Riding Hood can be understood as a shifting archetype when compared to her fairy tale sisters such as Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty et al, thus allowing for so many diverse portrayals of her character: as the child, the innocent victim, the femme-fatale, and the monstrous feminine. The rationale behind the thesis is threefold; firstly, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ is typically understood as a cautionary tale, rather than a female quest narrative, therefore, I will explore how the tale is often used as a vehicle for post/feminist issues and/or gender anxieties, providing a commentary on the construction and perception of girls’ and women’s roles in contemporary Western society. Secondly, the work creates a space for the acknowledgement and discussion of unconscious appropriation which has so far remained on the margins of adaptation studies. And thirdly, to establish fairy tales, using ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as an example, as the ultimate intertext(s), demonstrating how characters, themes and plots are continually (re)appropriated.
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