As an exercise in my literary criticism class last week, our prof had us read Little Red-Cap, which was a different take on Little Red Riding Hood than we had known previously. She wanted us to take apart the story using what little we knew about the different kinds of criticism and discuss the results, like so:
"I was interested in the morals the author provided at the end: they're obviously not for children, so who was the intended audience for this story?"
"I wanted to know why the huntsmen appeared out of nowhere and then decided to find out what the grandmother wanted because she was snoring so loudly - usually that's a sign to go away, right?"
"I thought it was funny that the women in this story were so powerless and passive."
and so on.
We were all going along quite nicely, until:
"I was upset that they painted the wolf in such a bad light. Wolves get such a bad rap, and they don't deserve it at all - they're just doing what they were meant to do as animals. This story doesn't even make any sense: wolves don't eat people. And wolves are pack animals! So what was this wolf doing in the woods all alone, harassing little girls? And there used to be so many of them - now there are hardly any at all. It's because of stories like this that people distrust them. So maybe if the author had made a point of the fact that this wolf was a deviant or something, then I would have liked this story better."
Can you really blame me that I raised my hand and wanted to know, "wait, you really think that wolves are endangered because the hunters who kill them are traumatized by the stories they were told as children? HAHAHA oh, you're serious."
Then the prof looked kind of perturbed, the student wanted to know if there was "an environmentalist type of criticism," and Brad Pitt and Yorkie looked at me, looked back at each other and rolled their eyes! I bet they were all the kind of people who posed with their pets for their senior yearbook pictures.