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"Peter and the Wolf" is a combination of children's story and musical composition by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. During performances, a narrator tells the story while accompanied by music played by an orchestra. Each character in the story is represented by a Leitmotif played on a unique instrument.
The story tells the tale of an encounter of a young boy named Peter with a wolf. The other characters are Peter's grandfather, a duck, a bird, a cat and an unspecified number of hunters.
The work has been recorded numerous times by many different orchestras, and has also been adapted to a variety of other media, including animation, stop-motion animation, theatre and ballet. It has also inspired many variants and parodies, some of which include different characters and instruments. For a partial list, see The Other Wiki article.
This work provides examples of:
- Big Badass Wolf - The wolf is certainly Bad, though it is arguable how Badass he is considering how easily Peter catches him. Then again, maybe that just goes to show how much of Badass Peter is.
- Butt Monkey: The duck
- Cats Are Mean - The main role of the cat is to serve as a pursuer to the bird, though the wolf is the Big Bad of the story.
- Cat Up a Tree - In this case, the cat is up the tree to escape the wolf, not to get rescued by the fire department.
- Conveniently an Orphan: It is never implied that Peter is an orphan, but at the same time we only know he has a very protective grandfather. His parents are never mentioned.
- Darker and Edgier or Lighter and Fluffier - These tropes apply to some adaptations. For example, the Walt Disney adaptation has Peter hunting the wolf using a pop gun and makes it clear that the duck survives, whereas the "Weird Al" Yankovic version makes it very clear that the duck dies a horrible, painful death inside the belly of the wolf...and then there's Neil Torbin's Peter and The Werewolf where the duck (now a raven) is practically the Sole Survivor...which was played for laughs.
- Dead Hat Shot - In the Disney animated adaptation of Peter and the Wolf, the wolf chases the duck into a tree, and comes out with feathers flying, licking its chops. Subverted when the duck turns up alive at the end.
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel: The music can be quite frightening, especially since children who listen to a CD adaptation use their own imagination to fill in what they hear. And out of nowhere one of the main characters is eaten (even though it is later implied that the duck is still alive inside the wolf's belly.)
- Happy Ending - Everyone lives, even the wolf!
- Kid Hero and The Hero - Peter
- Leitmotif - The entire story is built on this trope, and it is perhaps one of the best known examples of Leitmotif.
- Bird: flute
- Duck: oboe
- Cat: clarinet
- Grandfather: bassoon
- Wolf: French horns
- Hunters: woodwind theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum
- Peter: string instruments
- Bob the Janitor: accordion
- Moral Dissonance: Peter is told by his grandfather NOT to go outside because the Wolf might get him. In the end Peter is taken inside, but when the wolf arrives: guess who does go outside and saves the day? So... er.... what's the moral of the story again?
- Swallowed Whole - The wolf swallows the duck whole and alive.