The Long Patrol Links Interviews Forums Brian Jacques Releases The Bookshelf Editorials Features

A Hidden Message
June 28th, 2003

Any debate as to whether males and females are equal in Redwall quickly ends when it is pointed out that there are so many strong female characters: Mariel, Cregga, Grath Longfletch, Ranguvar Foeseeker and Trisscar would be some of the most prominent examples. In fact, few such debates ever occur as the conclusion is known before the idea is ventured. However, this editorial aims to challenge that, not so much saying Redwall is sexist, but that slightly different roles are indicated.

You may be sitting there now resigned to disbelief at my statement, but please read on. I am not for one moment suggesting that there is a male dominance, for there most certainly is not: to the six abbots portrayed alive and in the flesh in the books there are seven abbesses; with 'Triss' any belief that the sword of Martin is reserved for males only is utterly obliterated. No, what I am suggesting is quite different. What I am talking about occurs upon the having of children.

Redwall depicts quite an age range, featuring parents almost as much as those equivalent to modern "teenagers". But, has it ever struck you how often a father is a warrior yet a mother almost never is? There are many warrior fathers: Luke; Janglur Swifteye; Matthias. But when it comes to mothers the only one I can really think of is Jess, mother of "silent" Sam, and she only goes off fighting to bring back her son. Of course this is not to say that in the Redwall universe that it is not possible for there to be warrior mothers, so anybody writing fanfiction with warrior mothers should keep it up; it is a good and original idea.

It is hard to say what message is intended here, if any at all. Is he saying that it is a husband's duty to care for his wife, in particular when she is vulnerable when giving birth and in the time afterwards? Is he saying that in the normal family unit that often the father falls into the role of protector and the mother into more of a caring position? Or am I taking this to far? If there is any message being suggested at all it is important to realise that it is not necessarily intended for the modern world. In the kind of period that Redwall is set such a rigid system of roles might have been the most practical thing.

You may now be sitting there rather annoyed that I have just wasted five minutes with a wild theory, which you think is either weak or irrelevant, or you might agree with me. Either way I am just trying to push the idea that every book or series, even one as apparently simple as Redwall, is still written by an author who has views, which often are revealed, intentionally or unintentionally, in their writing.


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