Comparative Essay: “The Wedding Gift” and “The Company of Wolves” In “The Wedding Gift” and The Company of Wolves”, both authors use young females that appear submissive but in reality, both main characters are independent girls, especially considering the time era they are from. Through “The Wedding Gift” and “The Company of Wolves”, Thomas H. Raddall and Angela Carter demonstrate the importance of being independent to achieve happiness through the elements symbolism, location and character. The use of symbolism is evident in both stories.
In “The Company of Wolves”, people who rely on others dies. For example, the wolves attack a man who relies on a higher power and “sing[s] to Jesus all day” and a domestic housewife that relies on her husband (Carter 1). When Kezia rides the horse, she starts off in a womanly fashion, and “as soon as she was out of the preacher’s sight she [rusks] her skirts and [slides] a leg over to the other stirrup” (Raddall 15). This action represents that she is abandoning the character that Mr. and Mrs. Barclay created for her.
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Red claims her own identity by “[taking] off her scarlet shawl”(Carter 6). The red shawl was given to her by her grandmother, and the moment she “[bundles] up her shawl and [throws] it on the blaze”, she throws away the identity and expectations that her family has for her, and her past (Carter 6). In “The Wedding Gift”, Kezia “[flings the tinderbox] into the woods and [walks] on” (Raddall 25). The tinderbox is a gift from Mr. Barclay to Mr. Hathaway and by throwing it away, she is no longer associated with him, and gains freedom.
Both Red and Kezia relieve their pressure by throwing away who they once where and gain a new identity. Location plays an important part in showing that independence is crucial. Red is headed towards her grandmother’s house, which is “a little way out of the village” (Carter 4). In a secluded area, nobody is able to miraculously save her, so she must be able to find a way to save herself no matter what happens. Kezia’s journey to Mr. Hathaway’s is made extremely difficult because of the heavy snow, since it forces her to have to find a shelter.
When Mr. Mears and her reach the shelter, “she [sets] example” for him and takes on the role of the leader (Raddall 20). Mr. Mears is clueless as to how to keep warm, and is only praying to God. Kezia notices it, and tells him “prayers won’t keep [him] warm” (Raddall 18). In spite of being the female, she acknowledges the fact that “God helps those that help themselves”, in other words, one must be independent (Raddall 20). The wolves still attack a woman that stays at home and does her domestic duties: “straining the macaroni” (Carter 1).
Even though home represents one’s comfort zone and safety, the wolf still is able to bite her. If she were more independent and less reliant on her husband, then her chances of surviving would increase. Mr. Mears unknowingly ties the horse nowhere near a stump; therefore Kezia must “lead the horse to a stump so she could mount” (Raddall 17). Most girls from her time are helpless girls who would just stand there and wait for help, but Kezia finds her own way to get onto the horse. The usage of location in both stories either show how independent the girls are, or force them to become more independent.
Both authors use the element character to convey the message that independence leads to contentment. Red is a cautious girl and makes sure that nothing will be able to harm her. Despite that she is going to her grandmother’s house alone, she “has her knife and is afraid of nothing” (Carter 4). She will not rely on her parents to make sure that she is safe, but rather, she is responsible for her own safety. Kezia is outspoken and a leader by nature. Although most girls would comply with whatever the male says, she suggests to Mr.
Mears that they will go by the ride-and-tie method: “And we’ll go ride-and-tie” (Raddall 15). She leads Mr. Mears once again, when the horse runs off and Mr. Mears tries to run after it, she tells him that he would “only get lost” if he attempts to find it (Raddall 18). Instead of trying to find the horse, she encourages him by saying “we’ll have to go on, the best we can” (Raddall 18). Red proves that she is clever by making use of her sexuality to control the wolf. Since she knows that “her fear [does] her no good, she [ceases] to be afraid” (Carter 6).
Although some may not agree with her decision to offer her body, she knows that she must sacrifice her innocence to survive, since no one will be able to save her. Also, Kezia shows her intelligence by using Mr. Mears to her advantage. Since Mr. Mears “bundled with [Kezia] in a hut in the woods” both of them will face consequences, but “twouldn’t matter if the young woman was [his] wife” (Raddall 23). Mr. Mears and Kezia must get married; therefore Kezia would not have to marry Mr. Hathaway. She manipulates Mr. Mears, which goes against society’s stereotype of fragile women who cannot decide for themselves.
Although others may not think that their actions are appropriate, they ignore it and do what they must do to gain happiness, despite the method. Both Carter and Raddall focus on the significance of independence, especially for young woman. Red and Kezia both abandon the typical domestic female image, which the location of where the story is set emphasizes. Symbols are used to show that those who are not independent do not survive, but since Red and Kezia are independent, they achieve their goals. The two girls are very similar in terms of character, which allows them to be free.
While Red does not conceal her true self with her family, Kezia hides her true self while being raised by Mr. Barclay. “The Company of Wolves” and “The Wedding Dress” convey the importance of independence, especially for young women, to obtain happiness. Works Cited Carter, Angela. “The Company of Wolves”. The Bloody Chamber. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Raddall, Thomas H. “The Wedding Gift”. The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English. Eds. Margaret Atwood and Robert Weaver. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997, 14-25.