The Big Bad Wolf/Werewolf concept was created from the trials of the Middle Ages, “[t]he fear of wolf attacks was a very real problem during Medieval times in Europe and many other regions…” Oftentimes, the mentally ill and disturbed were targeted as having a shape shifting ability. Witch trials encouraged the belief in supernatural occurrences and people blamed perfectly explainable events on mythical acts. Stories like “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Three Little Pigs”, and “The Werewolf’s Daughter” feature a wolf/werewolf as the antagonist. “In the early versions, the wolf was sometimes a werewolf, making it relevant to the werewolf trials at the time and aggregating the sexual and cannibalistic undertones that would remain in many versions of the tale.”
This idea allowed for lessons to be taught to children in an understandable way. It was (and still can be) very easy for young kids to disappear without a trace, so the concept of straying from home or trusting strangers was important to address. In Charles Perrault’s “ Little Red Riding Hood” the wolf pretends to be a little girl’s grandma and persuades her to get into bed with him. Shortly after, “this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up.” It’s clear, in the tale, that Little Red Riding Hood questions the characteristics of the wolf, but she is given prompt explanations for the dissimilarities. The wolf had experience and knew the naivety of Red would allow her to believe his lies.
Werewolves were common themes of European folklore and grew in popularity during the 17th century. “The Werewolf’s Daughter” is another gruesome story reminding younger people to be weary of whom they trust. The ninth daughter of the werewolf knew of her father’s condition and still gave him the benefit of the doubt when her sisters went missing. It wasn’t until she witnessed the grave of her sisters that she realized the evil that had unfolded. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the count shape shifts into a werewolf when he coaxes Lucy out of her house. Again, the creature is portrayed as a seducing, evil force.