In Deconstructing the Hero: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature, Margery Hourihan draws on an extensive corpus, ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey to Where the Wild Things Are, in order to conduct a forthright critique of what she refers to as ‘the hero story’. ‘[D]eeply entrenched’ and ‘ubiquitous’ in Western culture, this powerful and influential narrative ‘inscribes the set of related concepts, the fundamental dualisms, which have shaped Western thought and values’. 1 Foremost amongst these is that which sets male against and above female, presenting the former as ‘the norm, as what it means to be human’ and the latter as ‘other — deviant, different, dangerous’. 2 The hero who dominates the text is a brave, frequently violent man of action who confronts and overcomes a series of adversaries, suppresses emotion in order to attain his goals, and is most comfortable in the company of other men. 3 Whilst demonstrating male supremacy and the importance of male endeavours, the hero story simultaneously ‘defines good and bad femininity and inscribes the subordinate place of women’. 4 Female figures are few, and most remain in the domestic sphere; those encountered in the external realm of the adventure are powerful but often malevolent. 5