Little Red Riding Hood

Door KateWilliamson gepubliceerd op Wednesday 18 March 18:24

Modern age gives people a chance to enjoy different literature trends and works of young and talented authors. Some stories, novels, and poems truly reveal the current social situation and topics which enthrall the readers. However, there are many pieces of writing that are not new but are seen as a captivating page in the history of literature due to their eternal plots which remain actual and serve as the basis for further interpretations in literary works. One of such stories is Little Red Riding Hood, which was first published by Charles Perrault and then received new forms in fairy tales by Angela Carter and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. This paper compares the versions of the named story as they are presented by all the mentioned authors and focuses on the depictions of the wolf in them.

Any person knows that Little Red Riding Hood is a story about a small girl who had to bring some food to her grandmother but met a wolf which tried to eat her in the forest. However, not everyone can tell in detail what happened to the girl, because there are at least three different versions of the story: Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves and the Grimm brothers’ Little Red Cap. These stories differ not only in their names, but also in the way the events are presented. An important difference lies in the fact that in Perrault’s story and the Grimm brothers’ version the mother sends her daughter to the grandmother. In contrast, in Carter’s variant the girl herself insists on going. The most essential discrepancy of the plots is in their endings, because in the Grimm brothers’ tale and Perrault’s version the girl is eaten by the wolf, but, according to Carter, the main character of the story has sexual relationship with a werewolf. Becket tells that “a wolf has long been a metaphor of aggressive male sexuality. Thus, the first two versions of the story are adapted for children with a hidden hint on intimacy from Perrault, and in the third one Carter tries to openly restore the sexual context.

The images of a wolf in the stories are worth special attention as they are presented differently. A wolf eats the little girl and her grandmother in Perrault’s version, makes an attempt to eat the little girl and eats her grandmother in the Grimms’ interpretation and establishes a romantic relationship with a girl in Carter’s story. The brothers Grimm present the wolf as merely a clever animal which manages to trick the girl. Grimms’ image of a wolf is based only on one motive – the wolf and the kids. Carter, following her purposes, creates an image of a werewolf which is charming and handsome as a young man and uses a positive connotation of this creature, which was typical of her time. When Perrault was creating his story, the images of werewolves were less popular Orenstein makes a conclusion that Perrualt’s wolf walks, talks, eats humans just like the bzou of yore is not more than a metaphor in the context of a fairy tale. The depictions used by the authors are not completely stereotypical of wolves. A usual people’s stereotype of this wild animal is that it is quick, wicked, and smarter than some other animals. Some of these traits are partially revealed by the discussed authors, but the general images are not stereotypical depictions.

The discussed versions of the same plot represent people’s problematic associations with animals and explain that wild animals live according to the laws of nature and are not obliged to follow any rules which have been established by people. Moreover, Little Red Riding Hood versions teach some lessons not only to children, but to adults as well. The Grimms’ Little Red Cap is a lesson of obedience for all children who should understand that going down the path which was not determined by their parents can have fatal consequences. Perrault’s story is useful for the young ladies who cannot resist temptation and can suffer because of yielding to it like a naive girl who is easily deceived by an older and far more experienced villain. Finally, in Carter’s version, the main heroine hears many stories of a wolf, not only from his life, but also from the life of his brothers and sees a young charming man in the image of a wolf. She uses her beauty and wits and prevails in the situation as the wolf is also trapped by her ability to conquer young men. Therefore, the people’s associations with the wolves are broken by the discussed plot variants as certain men’s traits are adopted by these animals and typical wolf attributes are lost.

To conclude, it is worth noting that different versions of Little Red Riding Hood prove to be a valuable material for analyzing how the images of a wolf are presented in them and which lessons it is possible to receive with the help of these images. Thus, Perrault, the Grimm brothers and Carter depicted different wolves, generally speaking, a charming young man, a clever animal and a young womanizer charmed by the main character correspondingly. These three versions make people consider wolves as animals revealing some typical human traits. Though these associations break some stereotypes of wolves formed both by children and adults, the lessons drawn from all the three versions of the story are valuable for children and young ladies.

Kate Williamson, bloger and writer at

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