The earliest known version of the classic tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” was written by Charles Perrault and dates back to 1697. Unlike the more modern version of the story which has a happy-ever-after-ending and considered appropriate for a younger audience, this version has a more gruesome ending to teach a hard lesson that can present itself to children and especially young ladies. The story (1) begins by introducing a beautiful young girl that wears a red hood her grandmother gave her so impeccably, she earns the nick name Little Red Riding Hood. Her mother instructs her to visit her sick grandmother in the other village and take her a “cake and a little pot of butter.” While traveling through the woods, Red Riding Hood encounters a wolf who secretly wishes to eat the girl, but is unable to because there are wood cutters who could possibly see him. The wolf easily retrieved the location of where the grandmother lived and even toyed with Red Riding Hood to race her to the grandmother’s home. When he gets to the home, the wolf tricks the grandmother into thinking it is Red Riding Hood at the door and eats her, then sets a trap for red riding hood. When she finally arrives, Red Riding Hood climbs into the bed naked with the wolf and is then eaten.
Perrault’s Moral Lesson and other Lessons to be LearnedEdit
Perrault wanted to clarify the moral of the story(2) to avoid any possible misinterpretations and explained that children, especially pretty girls, will do well and not listen to strangers, and wolves(men) don’t necessarily come in gruesome, monstrous forms; instead they can portray gentle, kind, and even attractive qualities, but these “wolves” are in fact the most dangerous to the naïve child. This story also warns children of the immediate danger pedophiles (3) pose by stalking their prey in close, familiar places that are presumably thought to be safe.
This version also has its sexual suggestions when Red Riding Hood proceeds get naked and get in bed with the wolf. The French saying for a girl losing he virginity is “elle avoit vu le loup”, which translates to “she has seen the wolf.” One might interpret this as a cautionary advice to virgins to be weary of charming “wolves (4) .”