Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)



First Advisor

Prof. HO, Hung Lam, Elizabeth


Fairy tales’ magic is powerful because it has the potential to enter different cultures at different times. They teleport readers and displace them in alternative realities to shock them with a profoundly different world where there are possibilities they have not seen and impossibilities to be accepted. However, despite the clichéd opening of most fairy tales— “once upon a time”, the lack of a traceable origin and the arbitrariness of the tales’ contextualization, they are not ‘timeless’ or ‘universal’. These tales have a history. They evolve with new plots, characterizations and morals in response to the dominant discourses in different societies. For this reason, Red Riding Hood is not always a helpless prey of the predator Wolf, who can either be swallowed alive or depend on the huntsman who comes to rescue her. In fact, in contemporary re-writings, the heroine appears to be ‘liberated’ from the victim status she attains in the canonical versions of the tale by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, as she can now choose to sleep with the Wolf. I believe the evolution of the Red Riding Hood tale shows the changing values and epistemes female readers have been subjected to and internalized over the years in different societies to discipline themselves. As different powers, including the patriarchal, second-wave feminist and postfeminist discourses interfere with the tale, different ‘truths’ have been advocated to construct different images of a ‘proper woman’. The main questions my thesis seeks to answer are: whether women can be liberated from these ‘truths’ and epistemes that subjectify them, how such liberation has been attempted, at what costs, and how successful these attempts have been.

Recommended Citation

Cheng, H. Y. (2015). The liberation of the heroine in Red Riding Hood: A study on feminist and postfeminist discourses (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from