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Werewolf folktales are notorious for having morals and common themes seen throughout the stories. In D.L. Ashliman’s, “The Werewolf’s Daughter,” [1] along with the two folk tales, “Little Red Hat” [2] and “Little Red Ridding Hood,”[3] there is a common trend involving women being naive and inferior to men, as well as women and their sexuality. 

In each of these readings, being naive leads to problems for the women. For example, in “The Werewolf’s Daughter,” every sister that brought their father food never came back, and because the girls were so naive, they still kept sending another sister to bring him food. Even the very last sister questioned, “Now where can they be? Has my father kept them for companionship, or to help him in his work?” (Ashliman). She knew that her father was a werewolf, and she knew that her sisters were missing, and she still had hope that maybe they were all just helping him with his work. Problems also arise for Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother for the same reason: they were too naive. Without any hesitation, Little Red gladly gives directions to her grandmothers house to a complete stranger, and the grandmother welcomes in the stranger with no questions asked. In “Little Red Hat,” the girl is so gullible that she even eats and drinks her own grandmothers blood and intestines and crawls into bed with the werewolf. In both of these folk tales, the morale is obviously to not talk to strangers, but it is also saying that women need to learn to not be so naive because the world is a dangerous place.

The readings also reveal anxieties about women’s sexuality. For example, in “The Werewolf’s Daughter,” the narrator makes sure to say that the youngest daughter (the only one to survive) was the prettiest: “There was once a father who had nine daughters, and they were all marriageable, but the youngest was the most beautiful” (Ashliman). The narrator of “Little Red Riding Hood” also starts out the folk tale by mentioning the young girls good looks: “Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen.” Additionally, in at least one point in all three folktales, the young girl removes her clothes. This theme reveals the sexuality anxieties that many young girls have today.

Although these folktales are fiction, the stories are very similar to rape cases we see all the time in our culture. The morals draw parallels to rape cases in the sense that society tends to blame the victim. Similarly, Little Red can be blamed for being too naive, assuming that the sexual predator in this case is the wolf.

[1] http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/wolfdaughter.html

[2] http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#italy

[3] http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault


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