Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Daniel Cross Turner
One of the most well known villains of all time is the Big Bad Wolf. Usually a male entity, he has been present in child and adult literature for centuries and continues to unsettle readers in the twenty-first century. The Big Bad Wolf is consistently portrayed in a negative light because he originated in a time when wolves were feared, making him the perfect example to terrify village children. Over time, as a result of social and cultural changes, writers have transformed the wolf so that he is no longer the terror that plagued the nineteenth century. Instead, the Big Bad Wolf has become either a domesticated house pet or an audience-friendly, romantic, even sexual entity. In the process, the Big Bad Wolf is not simply a figure in children's literature; he now attracts adult readers. Through the constant alterations and different perceptions of the Big Bad Wolf, he has been transformed from the original creature whose purpose is to teach children through fear to avoid danger, into two "declawed" versions: a romantic symbol in adult fiction and a domesticated dog in children's fiction. Young adult media, such as the 2010 film adaptation of Red Riding Hood, features a heroine who has more intimate connections with the wolf character. Child-friendly animations of "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" reduce the originals to comedic skits that invoke joy in the viewer rather than fear. By analyzing these three film adaptations from the twenty-first century and incorporating scholarly research, I will illustrate the transformation of the wolf in a range of modern adaptations.
DeCrane, Laura, "Who Is Still Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" (2012). Honors Theses. 56.