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Little Red Riding Hood

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Little Red Riding Hood is a French fairy tale written by Charles Perrault.

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Summary Edit

This French fairy tale is about a beautiful young girl who wears a red hooded coat and is told to bring some cake and butter to her grandmother who lives in another town. As she travels through the forest she meets a wolf who inquires about her destination and how to get there. Little Red Riding Hood, unaware of the danger of talking to strangers, tells the wolf she is going to visit her grandmother in another town. The wolf eagerly says that he will meet her there and takes a short cut to the grandmother's house while the young girl takes her time picking flowers and chasing butterflies on her way. Upon arriving at the grandmother's house, the wolf mimics Red Riding Hood, enters the house, and eats the grandmother. The wolf takes the grandmother's place in the bed and waits for Red Riding Hood. When Red Riding Hood arrives she shrugs off her fear upon hearing the wolf's voice and enters the house. The wolf, still impersonating the grandmother, tells her to join him in the bed. Then the young girl proceeds to ask the wolf the classic questions, "what big arms you have...what big legs yo.u have...what big ears you have...what big eyes you have...what big teeth you have"[1]. At the last statement the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood and the story ends.

At the end of the fairy tale there is a moral, a statement of warning against well-bred, attractive, young girls against strangers of wolves. It also discloses that wolves may appear kind and courteous but secretly be dangerous and evil.

Comparisons Edit

Little Red Hat vs Little Red Riding Hood

This classic story of Red Riding Hood is similar to the Austrian/ Italian version "Little Red Hat"[2]. Like the French fairy tale, a young girl in a red hood unassumingly meets an evil stranger on the way to her grandmother's house. In the Austrian/ Italian version, this stranger is an ogre while in the French story it is a wolf. However, "Little Red Hat" is a more gruesome story, describing how the ogre used the grandmother's intestines as a door latch and put her teeth, jaw, and blood in the cupboard for Little Red Hat to eat when she arrives. There are similar statements about legs, ears, and mouth of the disguised ogre much like the statements directed at the cunning wolf in the French fairy tale, but unlike the French story, the Austrian/Italian one does not provide an ending moral.

In this adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood, the main character of the wolf seen in traditional tellings such as Charles Perrault’s adaptation is replaced with an ogre. This makes significant changes in the story as the ogre is traditionally a more gruesome villain. The origin of the word ogre comes from the French origin meaning “demon”. It is also said to have come from the Roman god Orcus of the underworld. Ogres have since spread across various cultures but all tellings have the same things in common. They are giant and often kidnap and eat children.

Therefore, an ogre is a fair replacement for the wolf in this classic tale. By exchanging these physical forms the traditional morals are not changed but the storytelling becomes darker. With this villain replacement, the story had more room for bloody aspects as Little Red Hat basically becoming a cannibal. This suits the world of the ogre much more than the world of the wolf villain.

Little Red Cap vs Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Cap[3] by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm is the version of Little Red Riding Hood favored by most modern storytellers as it has the happy ending.In this adaptation, Little Red and her grandmother are saved by the Huntsman wherein traditional tellings they pay the ultimate price and are consumed by the wolf. This happy ending has since been used in many modern adaptations such as the 2005 film Hoodwinked[4] and the musical (made into a movie in 2014) Into the Woods[5].

Little Red Cap vs Little Red Hat

These two versions are virtually opposite tellings from one another. While Little Red Cap has the happy ending that tends to satisfy the listener, Little Red Hat leaves the reader sickened by the dismantling of the grandmother and then heartbroken for the loss of Little Red. These adaptations are really only held together by the fact that the heroin wears a red hat and that at some point they get eaten.

Struggles of the Youth and comparisons in “Little Red Riding Hood”Edit

In Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood ” the many fears and vulnerabilities of growing up are present. Many of us have heard this story times before but I do not believe that everyone sees the true meaning behind it. This story shows the dangers that the youth face.  In “Little Red Riding Hood” Little Red was taken advantage of by a wolf, due to her youth and innocence that ultimately leads to her death. When the wolf approaches her, he asked where her grandmother lived and she responded, “it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village”. The hungry wolf knew that he would be able to get the little girl to tell him where her grandma lives because of her youth. Which is very similar to “Little Red Hat”  but instead Red Hat’s involved an Ogre that took advantage of the young girl. Every time Little Red Hat would question the ogre, he replied with a statement following “Keep quiet!”  The ogre did this because he knew that he would easily fool the girl.  A common theme in werewolf stories and movies are about growing up.“I Was a Teenage Werewolf”  is about a character Tony who was taken advantage of by his doctor. His doctor was older than him and knew Tony had anger issues and saw him as the perfect candidate to test werewolf-ism on. Just like the other girls, he got taken advantage of because an older figure saw their vulnerability. All three of these stories have a common theme of young people being taken advantage of by people older or stronger than they are because the characters are seen as easy targets. Showing the importance in being safe about whom you trust especially strangers.“The werewolf’s daughter”  contradicts this. In this case, it was the werewolf’s youngest daughter that defeated him.  The youngest was described as the prettiest, like was two the other two stories but in this case it the youngest and prettiest was the one who defeated the werewolf. The father was caught off guard and did not expect his youngest daughter to be so wise and the one who would be part of his ultimate defecation. I like this story because it shows the opposing side of the other three short stories mentioned.

ReferencesEdit

The Werewolf's Daughter 

Little Red Riding Hood 

Little Red Hat 

I was a Teenage Werewolf

The Moral Edit

The moral at the end of the Perrault's fairy tale states: "Moral: Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all"[1].

It is clear from Perrault's explicit warning that the "wolves" young attractive women should be aware of are not the canine animal, subtly hinting at the human male and his "urges" that young women should avoid. However, the warning is not against explicitly bad men but against men who have nice dispositions and live in the same house with younger women. This warning against older men pursuing younger women can hint at pedophilia and the dangers of males and females living together. This warning against pedophilia is further hinted at in the fact that the wolf asks Red Riding Hood to remove her clothes before she gets into bed with him. The inclusion of a moral at the end of the story is not uncommon among Perrault's retold fairy tales. Each of his stories was retold in a way that portrayed a specific purpose or underlying meaning to fit the concerns of the time period.

It is interesting to see that the correlation that werewolves are male and majorly attack young female characters correlates to Parrault's moral suggesting that young ladies should be more cautious of who they speak to and interact with, especially if they are not known. In the song 'Lil Red Riding Hood" By Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs[6] the singer is clearly sexualizing a young girl dressed a particular way that interests him. He makes references by calling her little multiple times using in terms of age and compares himself by calling himself the "Big Bad Wolf". Parrault moral in this story resembles a lot of little red riding hood stories and in the majority of these folk tales the werewolf in each is a older male stalking a barely teenage girl. In all red riding hood tales the female is always wearing the same outfit that seems to attract the attention of the male figure who is the werewolf. Because this is a cautionary tale Parrault made sure his audience, who is young females, understood the consequences of talking to strangers and didn't give the story a happy ending. He wanted to make his message loud and clear, if you talk to strangers you could potentially be risking your life. Back to the song, by Sam the Sham he is describing little red riding hood and is caling himself the big bad wolf and describing the things about little red that make him want her, She mentions her lips and suggests that "shes everything a big bad wolf could want". By describing himself as a "big bad wolf" we note that his intentions are not the purest and the appropriateness of age can be questioned, as mentioned above, Parrault may be suggesting that the wolf is a pedophile and women who travel alone should be cautious for their own safety.

Characters

The Wolf

The wolf was untrustworthy, the woodcutters were always watching him, so he would not commit any misconducts. The wolf was fear by everyone in the villages because he was knowing for tricking people. One day the wolf sees the Red Riding Hood walking through the woods and he takes his chance to go talk to her. He approaches her in a friendly matter, knowing that she looked innocent, only to take advantage of her. The wolf with creepy smiles convinced her to take the longer path to see her grandma. The wolf takes the chance to take the short path and see Red Riding hood grandmas first. The way that the wolf approached Red Riding hood, she thought that he was a sweet wolf and that he tried helping her by telling he to take another path that was going to be shorter. Obviously, the wolf lied and send her to the longer path. In this case, the wolf being a stranger to the Red Riding hood, he took advantage of her but, because she was so innocent she let him convinced her but everything was a brainwash. When the Little Red Riding Hood got to her grandma’s house, she notices that her grandma looks different. The clothes that she is wearing are completely different, and that is because the wolf had come to the house and ate the grandma. The wolf has eaten the grandma and has worn her clothes to make it seem that he looks like Red Riding Hood’s grandma. After the wolf asked, "Take off your clothes and get into bed with me!"[7] the wolf still persuading her to do something that she does not have any idea what she is doing. After getting into bed, the Red Riding Hood started asking questions to the wolf, after the questions, And, “saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up”[8]. Back in this age people fear wolves and stranger and this was a great way to educate children that when someone approaches you and seems nice it might be a lie, do not trust people that you do not know, you do not know what would happen and people can end up like the Little Red Riding Hood. 

Little Red Riding Hood 

Little Red Riding Hood is a young, beautiful girl, and the main protagonist of this story. She is tasked by her mother to bring her grandmother cake and butter. The character of Little Red Riding Hood represents innocence and compassion. However, these traits do not play in favor of Little Red Riding Hood because her innocent curiosity keeps her oblivious to the intentions and actions of The Wolf. In addition, Little Red Riding Hood seeks to manifest a lesson for all people, especially young women, to follow. This message is that strangers can be extremely dangerous and one should not trust, approach, or interact with strangers because their true intentions can never be known. Throughout the story, we see in Little Red Riding Hood a sense of ignorance to her surroundings. This is a major character trait, which is exemplified by her complete disregard for her grandmothers enlarged and animalistic features. In other versions of this story, Little Red Riding Hood's cloak and hood can be seen as a form of divine protection because she is saved after her untimely demise. However, in this version, the hood can be viewed as an article that fuels her ignorance. To elaborate, her grandmother gifted her these articles, which reinforces the trust she has for her grandmother even though it is The Wolf in disguise. Lastly, Little Red Riding Hood represents a battle between the dark nature of society, The Wolf's animosity towards human life, versus innocence, trust, and compassion, Little Red Riding Hood. 

Themes Edit

In Little Red Riding Hood there is a classic clash of Good v. Evil. The animalistic and spiteful nature of The Wolf represents the dark and wretched pieces of mankind. On the other hand, Little Red Riding Hood represents innocence, compassion, and trustworthiness through her unwavering care for her grandmother, which is the main reason she suffers an unfortunate fate.

Believe it or not, the fear of both budding sexuality is a theme that is rife with prevalence in the tale of Little Red Riding Hood (or Little Red Cap, from Italian lore). Originally a tale by Wilhelm Grimm published in 1697, it follows a naïve and beautiful girl on her journey through the woods to her grandmother’s cabin tasked with giving her grandmother pastries and other food-related goods. The conclusion can be drawn from the time period that it was written that the girl is a maiden, as she is young and running an errand for her mother, and is by definition a virgin. The story ends with her meeting a wolf in the woods, who goes to her grandmother’s cabin before she gets there and devours her grandmother before disguising himself as the deceased woman in wait for Riding Hood’s arrival. Upon her arrival, she is wary of the wolf as his voice is obviously not that of her grandmother’s, but is coerced into entering the cabin regardless. Once in the cabin, the wolf gets Riding Hood to get into bed with him, despite her obvious wariness, and proceeds to devour her to, where the more obvious moral of the story is to not talk to strangers that you meet while walking alone through the woods to your grandma’s cabin. Common sense to some.

              However, looking deeper into the story, the themes of sexuality is rather apparent. One can say that Riding Hood represents the fear of new sexuality, as the moment she is taken into bed by the wolf she is devoured, just as her grandmother was. The wolf can represent the temptation of sexuality. He meets Riding Hood in the woods and follows her, much like temptation of any kind coming back time and again to people. He coerces her into the cabin, much like someone would a wary sexual partner (not that anyone should be coerced into committing sexual acts) and metaphorically deflowers her by taking her to bed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Cap_(poem)

Symbolism and Meaning Edit

While it is easy to imagine why the wolf was picked for the role of antagonist and a young girl the protagonist. On Google search, when you search for the meaning of a wolf you get a description of a beast of honor and loyalty, described as a wise, almost sage like animal that uses its cunning and instinct to help companions. A far cry different from the wolf described in the story. The wolf in this story is a creature of deception and violence, that takes advantage of the young little red and from her information, is able to fool and thusly gobble her up. The end of the story has a little “synopsis” section where the moral of the story is made clear “Pretty young girls should not trust strangers, lest they be taken advantage of ”[9]. It even goes so far as to mention that there are many kinds of wolves and some are “charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet.” This obvious reference to a “wolf in gentleman’s clothing” is a key point of the true lesson the story wishes to convey. Take this understanding and use another aspect of the story in that Little Red Riding Hood meets her end while in bed with the wolf and a clear subtext to the story is seen. This story capitalizes on the importance of a young woman’s need to guard her chastity and be wary of the opportunistic “wolf” who might steal it away from her under the guise of lies. Another important aspect of the story is the red hood itself. This story takes from the sexual ethics of the time where blood red clothing was synonymous with the menstrual blood that accompanies womanhood. In many iterations of the story, the final act of little red is for her to get into bed with the wolf. Sometimes the wolf asks her to disrobe and other times not, either way, she is usually told to be naked at some point during the story. Such an example is in the story “Little Red Hat”, or even stories that do not include similar plots to Little Red Riding Hood, as found in “The Werewolf’s Daughters”[10] where the youngest daughter flees naked away from her werewolf father. Regardless, little red is without clothes and in bed with the wolf. Again this is very sexual in context, especial since this story was conceived in a time where most people when to bed in a slip or nightgown of some form. This entering into bed and then summarily being eaten has a very strong semblance to rape, given the location, violence of the act, and the innocence of the main character. Lastly, the role of Little Red Riding Hood herself is a symbol on its own, usually, a young girl or a beautiful woman embodies the idea of a pure and innocent existence. The idea of making the protagonist pure and good is so that the actions that are done by or to that character are magnified by the notion that such a pure and good thing should not do wrong or be wrong. A beautiful young girl befalling a tragedy makes for a more impactful tale as opposed to an unattractive one. At length, this tale was a warning for young ladies about to reach womanhood or already there to be wary of those who could wolfs, and to especially be warned of strangers lest the young girls become victims to cunning and voracious men.

REFERENCE
  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault
  2. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#italy
  3. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#grimm
  4. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443536/?ref_=nv_sr_1
  5. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2180411/
  6. [1]'Lil' Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
  7. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault
  8. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault
  9. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#perrault
  10. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/wolfdaughter.html

Similar Stories Edit

Little Red Hat

Little Red Hat is an Italy/Austria story that follows a very similar plot and moral to Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood. The protagonist is described as "a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen." This keeps with Charles Perrault's theme of using a young, attractive female protagonist. She is sent to another village to bring her ill grandmother a pot of butter and some cakes. Along the way she meets an ogre who she tells about her journey. The ogre directs her through a field while he states he will travel through the thorns to her grandmother's house. The young girl is distracted in the beautiful fields while the ogre makes his way to her grandmother's house before she does. There the ogre kills her grandmother and leaves her blood and jaws in the cupboard and her intestine in the doorway for the young girl to find. Once in the house the ogre calls the girl to open the door, despite her complaints, and eat and drink her grandmother's blood and jaws, when she asks for food and drink. She is told they are meat and wine. When she finally confronts the ogre she is told to get in bed with him and she remarks about her hair, hands, and mouth when she is finally eaten by the ogre. This almost exactly follows the theme of Charles Perrault's story except it utilizes an ogre over a werewolf. However, the ogre can act as a similar symbol to the werewolf, both representing hyper masculinity and preying on younger, attractive girls, as seen in both Little Red Hat and Little Red Riding Hood. The ogre is described as hairy, much like a werewolf, and large and violent, eventually eating the young protagonist just as the wolf did in Little Red Riding Hood.

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