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The Werewolf

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Werewolf” by Angela Carter. We will show you examples of the elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Werewolf” (1979)
Author: Angela Carter
Genre: Short story

Angela Carter (1940-1992) was an English author and journalist. Carter is famous for her novels, short stories, and poems which often explore themes such as magical realism or feminism. She frequently explored fairy tale forms in her work. The short story “The Werewolf” appeared in 1979 in the collection The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, which contains twisted retellings of well-known fairy tales.

Extract

Below, you can read an extract from the study guide:

Title

The title of Angela Carter’s story “The Werewolf” is straightforward and creates expectations from the very beginning. A werewolf is a folkloric creature - a human who has the ability to turn into a wolf. Depending on the type of fairy tale or folk story, this might be the consequence of a curse, of being bitten by another werewolf, or it might be a deliberately acquired power. Sometimes werewolves are said only to come out during the full moon.

Symbolically, werewolves represent anger or lack of control, as the human part is taken over by the animal part. In this story, the werewolf also symbolizes lack of control, as the grandmother – in the shape of a werewolf – attacks her own granddaughter.

Note that the story does not mention the existence of a werewolf at the beginning, but it does mention other supernatural beings such as the Devil, witches, vampires, and clairvoyant children. Furthermore, the word “werewolf” is never used in the narrative, except for the title. Nevertheless, as events unfold, it becomes clear that the little girl's grandmother is a werewolf. This is shown when the paw of the wolf-like creature falls on the floor, and the little girl discovers it is, in fact, her grandmother’s hand:

But it was no longer a wolf’s paw. It was a hand, chopped off at the wrist, a hand toughened with work and freckled with old age. There was a wedding ring on the third finger and a wart on the index finger. By the wart, she knew it for her grandmother's hand. 

 

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The Werewolf

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