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Theme Analysis: Red Riding Hood

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Most literary stories carry themes that jab at a central topic throughout a narrative. This is especially apparent in most short stories. The reader doesn't have to sift through hundreds of pages to get a grip on a specific message that the story is trying to ultimately convey. It is also difficult for a reader to get attached to characters or care about a plot if they only read it for a few minutes, so themes can be used as an extra sense of satisfaction that the story or character elements couldn't provide with such little time. The "Little Red Riding Hood" story is classic and deciphering the theme can be pretty straightforward. The class analyzed both Little Red Hat (Schneller) and Little Red Riding Hood (Perrault). An ogre served as the "villain" in Little Red Hat, while in Little Red Riding Hood the wolf played the role. The only major differences between the stories is the antagonists themselves, and the scene that plays out once the female protagonist enters her grandmother's house.

The story is pretty well known: A girl travels along a trail to reach her grandmother's house, while on the way she meets a stranger. She spills the beans about where she is going, and the stranger runs ahead and eats/kills the grandmother before she arrives. The stranger then poses as the grandmother, and in the end eats the girl as well. Little Red Riding Hood pretty much follows this to the bone and it is the story that seems to be more frequently told. This is most likely because Little Red Hat includes the ogre tricking the little girl to consume the body parts of her grandmother before eating her. Considering that this story has practically been adopted into a children's story, a scene like that should probably be left out of the story. Perrault explains that the theme of the story is directed towards "Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies..", while Little Red Hat could be aimed more towards a general young audience. In Perrault's story, he makes it known at the beginning that the girl was the "Prettiest creature who was ever seen". Its Italian counterpart just states that Red Hood is a young girl. The theme for both stories is that children growing up (and even women in their teens and older) should be aware of the dangers associated with strangers, and to never "provide dinner for the wolf". At the end of both stories the antagonist tells the girl to take off her clothes and hop into bed with him. I noticed this detail to be quite strange and out of place since the story that I was most familiar with didn't have the girl strip naked and hop into the bed. It makes sense though since the Perrault version is aimed towards girls. The story mostly told now has been adapted into more of a children's tale , where the girl survives in the wolf's belly. The story The Werewolf's Daughter shows an example of a woman that the takes time to make her own decisions and not "feed the wolf". All of these stories are centered around the theme of "caution" (Red riding hood with strangers and Werewolf's daughter with ignoring the past). Over time the story has been rewritten and modified to relate to a larger young audience, and to be more about strangers rather than sexually dangerous men like Perrault once wrote.

Works cited:

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/wolfdaughter.html

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

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

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

https://americanliterature.com/childrens-stories/little-red-riding-hood

http://www.dltk-teach.com/rhymes/littlered/story.htm

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