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Little Red Riding Hood (Short Story) Edit

Plot Edit

Little Red Riding Hood, or “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” in its original French title by Charles Perrault [1] written in 1697 [2], is what we tend to recognize as mostly the modern-day version of Little Red Riding Hood. Upon request of her mother, a young girl goes traveling to visit her unwell grandmother, and making her way through dangerous woods she encounters an unsavory character; a hungry wolf with humanistic characteristics (they have a brief conversation).

Her naivety leads to her being too trusting and she becomes the prey of the Wolf’s intent – to eat her. He clearly can’t eat her right then and there because the forest cutters might happen upon them. Instead, the Wolf talks with Little Red and learns of the plans of her plans to visit her grandmother’s house. The two agree to both visit her grandmother, but the Wolf tells Little Red that he’ll take the shorter path. Not in any hurry, Little Red takes the long way around and stopping to pick nuts and flowers along the way.

The Wolf arrives at the grandmother’s house first. Disguising his voice, knocks on the door and pretends he’s Little Red Riding Hood, and the grandmother instructs him to pull the special that opens the front door because she’s too weak to get out of bed. The Wolf enters the house and devours the grandmother in a hungry frenzy. But having been hungry for 3 days, the grandmother didn’t satisfy his appetite and he lays in hiding in the grandmother’s bed for Little Red.

Little Red Riding Hood makes her way to her grandmother’s house. The Wolf, pretending to be her grandmother and making his voice soft-like, instructs her to come in. Little Red Riding Hood finds some of the characteristic of her grandmother strange, but is trusting of her grandmother’s (the wolf’s) explanations. When she’s eventually moves close enough, the Wolf jumps out and eats her.

Character Analysis Edit

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Little Red Edit

One of the important things about this story, versus the more modern telling, is it’s start off describing Little Red Riding Hood as “a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was even seen”. She’s shown to be naïve, too trusting, and unaware of the dangers of the world, and possibly the effect of her own beauty. She represents purity and desirable beauty.

Wolf Edit

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The wolf, while portrayed as a character that is only interested in devouring her in relation to hunger, being a beast following his natural behavior and instincts, can be interpreted as a metaphor for sexual predator, or man whose true intentions are purely sexual but hidden in order for him to get closer to her. His “hunger” is metaphor for his sexual desires, which have often been portrayed or view as animalistic and uncontrollable in men. He represents men who hide their true intentions, preying and taking advantage of naïve young girls.

Mother and Grandmother Edit

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Both Little Red’s mother and grandmother are explained as having doted on her. While it’s not stated that neither having warned of the dangers of the world, it’s implied both has failed at this task. The mother even sends her out on a trip to her grandmother’s house all alone without warning.

Story Analysis Edit

General Edit

There’s an evident overtone to this story. This story is warning young girls of the dangers of men in the world, and being too quick to particularly trust strange men. The story explains the sexual desire and intent of men as essentially intrinsic, at least to some men, as natural as a beast or animal eats to stay alive. It serves as a warning to parents of the naivety of their children, as well as a warning to young girls of the unexpected dangers in the world.

Specific Message Edit

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The naivety of Little Red Riding Hood is very apparent. Even when she’s alarmed by the Wolf’s harsh voice when he’s trying to pretend to be her grandmother, she takes at face value the explanations of her grandmother (the Wolf in disguise). This goes for a series of questions and explanations, in which the Wolf is leading Little Red Riding Hood closer to his bed. This whole series of events during the grandmother’s house and Little Red, can been seen a metaphor for getting a young naïve girl to sleep (laydown or have sex) with him [5]. The bed represents the sexual act, and the apprehension leading up to it is always countered by the Wolf’s reassurance that there isn’t any danger. The Wolf pretending to be her grandmother is symbolic of a man hiding his true intentions; sexual desire. The explanations are to ease her interpretations until it’s too late – the act is done.

While this specific version of the story came out in early 1700's, it has remained a popular message even to this day. We carry a lot of the left over ideals of the Victorian era of how sexuality [3]was viewed as two distinct spheres of motives and desires. This story would have served as an early-to-entry level warning for young girls growing up during, and even post, Victorian era ideals of gender roles [4].

Sources Edit

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood#Charles_Perrault

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

3 https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/victorian-sexualities

4 https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century

5 http://www.werewolves.com/a-deeper-look-into-little-red-riding-hood/

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