Little Red Riding Hood: The Belly of the Beast

The Wolf represents our primal instinct, a psychic force that motivates the tendency to seek immediate gratification of any impulse. In the story, the wolf ate the grandmother, then the girl and took a nap. Why he didn’t leave the scene? It reminds me that sometimes we commit an act several times but we didn’t immediately suffer the consequences, so then we became comfortable.

The Wolf also represents our shadow, a Destroyer archetype. It is when a person gets into self-destructive mode such as addiction and compulsion. In the Charles Perrault edition, Little Red Riding Hood took off her clothes and got into bed with the wolf (pretending to be her grandmother) and the wolf ate her all up. The sexual undertone of this is rape—that has destructive effects on others (Pearson 16).

The way to free ourselves of shadow possession is to awaken our heroic (huntsman) potential. The huntsman cut off the wolf’s belly; there are times we do not consciously choose our initiation, it appears just to happen and often its quite a shock, sometimes the shock is physical. The wolf woke up and tried to run away, the stones were so heavy that he fell down dead, this represents hitting rock bottom. The hero within is, essentially sleeping; our task is to awaken the hero to save us from our inner Wolf.

Dr. Young:

Being in the Belly of the Beast seems to be a necessary stage in the process of transformation. It is a descent and a defeat. Finally, we stir and the begin to pull ourselves together. This is where we bring a new effectiveness into our story. The huntsman was always nearby, but it wasn’t until we lost the fantasy of ego control that we made the alliance needed to save ourselves.


There is something about the inner wolf that I find fascinating (though also somewhat repellent). I think that the “Destroyer” archetype is extremely strong, and we don’t always know how to bring it out of our subconscious in a healthy way. 

I also loved what you wrote about how we often do not consciously choose our initiation. Boy, is that the truth! Sometimes the awakening or initiation just comes along and abducts right off of our normal, mundane path. The shock can be so extreme that it feels like part of ourselves is being severed, just as the huntsman severs the belly. I relate to this, for sure!

Work Cited

Pearson, Carol S.  Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. Harper Elixir, 2012

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