Little Red Cap

Context

Based on the fairytale of Little Red Riding hood and the wolf, but this version mainly focuses on the female rather than the male side of it 

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Content

Themes

  • Loss of innocence
  • original fairytale
  • adulthood vs childhood
  • power
  • sexuality

Message of the poem:

Girls need to watch out for predators when they hit puberty

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Language Devices

The onomatopoeic word ‘drawl’ suggests arrogance, someone who speaks in a confident, slow way, utterly sure of themselves

The description “hairy paw” suggests overt maleness and a sexual predator. Women sometimes refer to unwanted sexual advances and touching as being “pawed”.

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Structural Devices

This is Duffy’s first obvious assonant rhyme, with “drawl” rhyming with “paw”, and “jaw” rhyming perfectly with claw. Note also the consonant “clearing”, “reading” and “staining”. These rhyming devices create a tension and intensity after the gentle introduction.

The rapid repetition and rhyme suggests a child’s rhythmic nursery rhyme or playground song. The mood throughout suggests humour and mischief rather than serious danger. The use of rhyme is ironic, because the story of sexual awakening is anything but childlike.

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