Feminism in "Company of Wolves"
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES: Film Review of sex before marriage and other typically non-Christian behaviour. desire before reaching maturation), the end of the film makes it clear that this is not a story meant to pacify. Bidisha considers how these tales use wolves to explore sexual and gender Photographs from The Company of Wolves, a film by Neil Jordan and .. In an echo of the ending of 'The Tiger's Bride', Alice licks the Duke's face. Need help with The Company of Wolves in Angela Carter's The from man to wolf is associated with the wedding night – another connection.
In another story, a young woman gets married and her bridegroom disappears mysteriously on their wedding night.
In this first mini-story, the transformation from man to wolf is associated with the wedding night — another connection between the loss of virginity and metamorphosis. Active Themes Soon the young woman gives up finding her husband and she marries another man.
The Company of Wolves: Comparing the Story, Radio Play and Movie | Innsmouth Free Press
In death he transforms back into the man he was on that first wedding night, so that the woman weeps and her second husband beats her. Carter changes her tone slightly in describing these Northern tales, using harsher and more economic language.
Active Themes The narrator lists a few more superstitions about wolves and then begins the story of a child who decides to travel through the woods and bring oatcakes to her grandmother. The child is inexperienced but strong-willed, so she scorns the danger of wolves and brings a long knife in her basket.
Unlike most children of this country, the child has led a sheltered life. She is just on the threshold of womanhood and has begun to menstruate for the first time. The central story now begins. The red cloak of Little Red Riding Hood is explicitly connected to the blood of menstruation and the loss of virginity, as the heroine is on the threshold between child and woman.
The child hears wolves howling, and then a handsome young huntsman appears. He talks with her and they start walking together. She gives him her basket to carry, even though her knife is in it, as the huntsman has a rifle. If he does, the child has to kiss him.
The third story, this time told by Rosaleen to her mother, whilst her father is out hunting the wolf, is the story of the witch Dawn Archibald interrupting the wedding party.
This story ends with the wolves serenading the witch every night. The final story, told by Rosaleen to the Huntsman Micha Bergese after he has turned into a wolf, is the story of the she-wolf who comes up through the well and turns into a young woman Danielle Dax after being shot. This story ends with the woman returning to the well. Upon the end of the she-wolf story, we return to the hypodiegetic narrative level. At this point, we learn that Rosaleen herself has now become a wolf.
She flees from the hunting party and joins up with a large group of other wolves. As they run, they seem to enter a dilapidated version of Rosaleen's real house, heading for her bedroom. They congregate outside her door, at which point, the dream ends, and Rosaleen wakes up, returning us to the intradiegetic narrative level. However the boundaries between the real world and the dream world the intradiegetic narrative and the hypodiegetic narrative have now been broken down entirely, as Rosaleen hears the wolves from her dream scrapping at her real door.
The film ends with a wolf jumping in through Rosaleen's real window, followed by the sounds of Rosaleen screaming as her playthings crash to the floor. There are several noticeable frogs in the film. What is their significance? There are four scenes in the film which feature prominent shots of frogs.
The first is early in the title sequence as the dog is running through the forest to meet the car; the second is as the earth is being thrown into Alice's grave; the third is seen as Granny and Rosaleen walk through the forest for the first time; the fourth occurs just prior to Rosaleen's encounter with the huntsman, where she finds a frog sitting on a stone. The Company of Wolves is, first and foremost, a folkloric fairy tale, and taking this into consideration, frogs have a great deal of folkloric associations.
For example, perhaps the prominence of frogs functions as a foil to contrast the nature of the werewolf. This refers to story of "The Frog Prince", wherein a prince is turned into a frog by a witch and can only be turned back into a man by a kiss from his true love.
A major component of this story is shapeshifting, as the frog turns into a Prince at the end of the story, when the heroin kisses it. Obviously, shapeshifting is also central to any story involving lycanthropy, but it is presented in The Company of Wolves as different from its presentation as found in "The Frog Prince".
There, the shape shifting is a positive thing—the frog turns into a man, and he and his love live happily ever after.
However, in The Company of Wolves, most of the characters regard the transformation of a person into a wolf as a hideous and terrifying event. As such, the prominence of frogs could simply be an allusion to the "The Frog Prince", and by extension, frogs serve as a contrast to the central subject of the story; ie wolves.
It is worth noting however, that in the original version of "The Frog Prince", the frog only turns back into a prince after the heroine has thrown it against the wall in disgust. This alludes to the less attractive folkloric connotations of frogs, which are often presented as evil creatures who associate with demons and devils.
This may come from the fact that in the Middle Ages, frogs were often depicted as witches familiars. For example, although it isn't from the Middle Ages, one of the evil witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth carries a toad called Paddock. It was generally believed that witches used frogs in their worship of the Devil, often by mangling its body.
As such, the frog was often seen specifically as a symbol of the Devil. This kind of belief is supported by the Bible, where frogs also have negative connotations. Even in the chambers of their kings" [King James Version]. Similarly in Revelations Taking all this into account, it can be seen that in folkloric terms, frogs were widely seen as having negative supernatural associations.
As such, their appearance in the film could perhaps simply be a part of the fairy tale milieu such as the presence of the snake for exampleand carry no specific symbolism at all, beyond a general reference to folkloric mysticism. In the end, however no solid answer is provided by the film one way or the other, and, as with many elements of the movie, each viewer must decide on the significance of the frogs, or lack thereof, for themselves.
Who is the man in the back of the car and what is the potion he gives to the young boy? He is the devil. When sitting in the churchyard with Rosaleen, Granny explains that if a priest's bastard is born on Christmas day, feet first and with eyebrows which meet in the middle, he is destined to meet the devil in the woods and become a werewolf. Which is exactly what happens to the young man in the story; he meets the Devil, who gives him a potion, which turns him into a wolf although we only witness the beginning of the transformation process.
According to the "Behind-the-Scenes Dossier" booklet included with initial batches of the special edition DVD, the devil rides through the forest in a silver car seeking out those who have been cast out from society. He provides them with the salve needed to turn from human into wolf, making them his fierce creatures of the night. This "salve" possibly includes aconitum; a plant more commonly referred to as wolfsbane. The name comes from the medieval belief that aconitum, if eaten, smelled or worn, would turn the person who ate, smelt or wore it into a werewolf.
This belief stemmed from the fact that aconitum was a common ingredient in witches' potions at the time. However, there is perhaps more to the scene than simply the Devil turning a young boy into a wolf.
It has often been argued by fans that each of the four stories told in the dream have a significance in and of themselves beyond their immediate narrative, and that they refer to a larger societal sphere. In relation to this particular story, it has been suggested that the story is a metaphor for how young men often want to rush puberty, they want hair to grow on their chests quickly, ie they are keen to become men. However, in the story, the young boy, in his desire to become a man prior to his time, is tricked by the Devil, who gives him a potion which instead of turning him into a man, turns him into a wolf.
This aspect of the story, the fact that the young boy becomes a wolf, could refer to the fear that some men do experience during puberty. The transformation into a wolf represents the boy's discovery of his adult masculinity, and, in terror, he rejects it. However, he is trapped by it, unable to escape as represented by the vines which weave around his legsand in the end is forced to accept what it is he is becoming.
What is the significance of the red shawl? The primary theory as to the significance of the shawl which Granny gives to Rosaleen is that it is a symbol for her femininity and her developing sexuality.
For example, according to the "Behind-the-Scenes Dossier" booklet, the shawl "stands for the onset of menstruation, and the transition from girl to woman. Rosaleen makes her understanding of this duality clear in her dialogue. Upon receiving the shawl from Granny she says "soft as snow - red as blood".
Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” «
With this function made apparent by Rosaleen it is possible that the shawl itself is symbolic of the adolescent girl. She is on the cusp of puberty, a girl who is pure; a virgin who is experiencing, for the first time, sexual attraction, desires and fantasies. The shawl's colour is emotive of desire and of passion and, as will be identified later, menstrual blood.
By the narrative's conclusion, the symbolic value of the red shawl makes explicit Rosaleen's final transformation. Just as the wolves have shed their human skin to reveal their true selves, Rosaleen is encouraged to reveal herself by shedding her shawl.
Trapped inside Granny's cottage with The Huntsman, he tells her to take off her shawl and throw it into the fire.
The Company of Wolves: Comparing the Story, Radio Play and Movie
By doing so Rosaleen destroys the physical protection the shawl offered and as a result reveals her physical self - her clothed pubescent body - to the gaze of the Huntsman. Rosaleen initially finds the shawl comforting, but later in the film, when the Huntsman tells her to throw it into the fire, she willingly does so.
This scene could be read as Rosaleen's shedding of her childhood naivety and her embracing of adult sexuality, the realisation and acceptance of her "new" body. What is the significance of the bible verse?
The Bible verse quoted in the film during the church service is Isaiah And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. This is a description of the harmony and lack of discord and enmity which will be found in Christ's kingdom.
However, aside from the mention of wolves, and the thematically pertinent allusion to different species of animal mixing together, the passage seems to have no major symbolic significance. What is the significance of the little statues in the eggs? When Rosaleen is out in the forest with the young village boy Shane Johnstoneshe runs away from him and climbs a tree. At the top of the tree is a stork's nest.
The bird flies away, and Rosaleen looks into the nest, wherein she finds a group of eggs, a hand mirror and some lipstick. After putting on the lipstick, the eggs crack open to reveal their contents to be tiny baby statuettes. Rosaleen takes one, and upon returning to the village, she shows it to her mother, at which point the statuette sheds a single tear. This scene has provoked a great deal of speculation amongst fans as to its meaning.
The one thing Angela [Carter] and I did not want [the film] to be was logical in a linear way, which might have caused problems for some people, but we wanted surreal elements in it, and we wanted elements that kind of came from nowhere, because the story is structured around a young girl's dream, and I wanted elements that were as unexpected as things that happen in a dream, a strange reality, they didn't need to actually be symbolic of anything.
There are some deeply illogical things and images in the movie that are just there. With this in mind, in relation to the nest scene, Jordan comments, "It's totally surreal. You can't explain it, you can't even say these elements are symbolic. For example, the "Behind-the-Scenes Dossier" booklet states the scene "can be seen as the awakening of sexuality, and the power to give birth not only to a child, but to her own adult self.
As Rosaleen watches the eggs hatch an analogy is made between what she is witnessing and the bodily changes she is undergoing.
The eggs can be seen to represent Rosaleen's awareness for her capacity to give birth to not only to children but also to her adult self. Combined, these symbolic values imply the onset of her sexual awakening. These values are consolidated by the presence of the mirror and lipstick, both connotations of the adult that Rosaleen will eventually grow into.
Most arguments suggest that the meaning of the scene is that Rosaleen in both the real world and the dream world has reached puberty and can now have children, ie, her female sexuality has matured.
This is reinforced when she brings one of the statues home to her mother, and there is a moment of silent acknowledgement between them, as if they both understand something which is unspoken, i. Rosaleen can now fulfill her "function" as a woman; she can give birth. Eggs are a symbol of fertility and rebirth in many cultures and religions including Christianityand as such, if the eggs are a symbol of fertility, it means that when Rosaleen finds the nest she is actually encountering a representation of her own maturing sexuality.
It is perhaps significant that this encounter occurs immediately after what we suppose to be her first kiss with a boy, and immediately prior to the first appearance of the wolf in the film. The first kiss is merely the first step towards sexual maturity; all other steps will build on that kiss, until Rosaleen reaches the point where she is ready to experience animal sexuality as represented by the wolf; see below for more on this theory.
With this in mind then, a purely symbolic reading of the sequence is that the kiss leads to the wolf, and the end result are the eggs.
The lipstick works in tandem with this, as it too seems to represent her new found maturity, and taken together with the mirror, they represent the vanity that comes with sexual development.
None of this however answers the question of why the statue cries. The reasons for the tear remain vague at best. Some fans have suggested the statue is crying because it never got a chance to become a real baby as due to Rosaleen's menstruation, the egg was "killed". Others suggest it is an allusion to the sadness of sexual maturity, and the inability to reclaim childhood innocence and wonder ever again. Whatever the case about the tear however which remains one of the most ambiguous aspects of the filmthe general consensus is that the statues themselves are part of the overall symbolic tapestry of Rosaleen's sexual maturation.
What is the significance of the wedding story? As mentioned above, it has been suggested that each of the four stories told within the dream have their own intrinsic meaning, and this story the 3rd of 4 is no different.
A standard interpretation of the scene is that it is illustrative of class struggle in the 18th century. The land-owning gentry commonly used and abused their workers and their workers' families due to their absolute domination of the social hierarchy.
This was not seen as somehow nefarious or evil, but was a commonly accepted aspect of society.