In Little Red Riding Hood, the forest represents a trial. It is where the little girl loses her innocence and encounters the all-evil Wolf. But in A Dryad’s Tale, the forest enchants the main character and makes her at peace. No struggle. Just sweet surrender to nature.
The poem comes across as a narrative. A lady passes by an oak tree and essentially falls in love, becoming a nymph. The author also makes a clear structure: beginning, middle and a definitive ending. She adheres to four-line stanzas. Having said all this, it was not the poem’s structure that interests me.
A Dryad’s Tale flows and the words seem to float, effectively portraying the trance-like state of the nymph. In this poem, the forest seems to represent Home, the place we all seek to find. There was no mention of impending doom, no dangerous wolves or trials ahead. Though I enjoy reading it, I somehow could not connect with it. I find nature so beautiful and there’s nothing quite like a walk through the woods. Yet, I can’t “disappear into [its] essence” the way the nymph does. I have never felt the trees “cast a spell on me” or felt inclined to “slip out of my dress” because I felt so peaceful.
But perhaps, Red Riding Hood felt the same sense of peace as the nymph does, especially in the Grimm Brothers version. Enchanted with nature, she forgot her mother’s reminder to not stray from the path. Maybe she felt as free and immortal as the nymph. Now that I think about it, the forest might portray something else besides a charming place called Home.
Witnessing the nymph succumb to the tree’s power, I realize that maybe the forest represents all the things we fall trap to. They’re the things that distracted us from homework or chores – the responsibilities we abandoned, appointments not kept for the sake of having fun. The forest embodies the pull that we feel whenever we want to do what makes us happy, no matter what society says. The question stands: do we obey orders or stray from the path?