Little Red Riding Hoodby Charles Perrault
Little Red Riding Hood, also known as Little Red Cap or simply Red Riding Hood, is a European fairy tale about a young girl and a Big Bad Wolf. The story has been changed considerably in its history and subject to numerous modern adaptations and readings. The story was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in… See more details below
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Little Red Riding Hood, also known as Little Red Cap or simply Red Riding Hood, is a European fairy tale about a young girl and a Big Bad Wolf. The story has been changed considerably in its history and subject to numerous modern adaptations and readings. The story was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697.
The story revolves around a girl called Little Red Riding Hood, after the red hooded cape/cloak (in Perrault's fairytale) or simple cap (in the Grimms' fairytale) she wears. The girl walks through the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother.
A wolf wants to eat the girl but is afraid to do so in public. He approaches Little Red Riding Hood and she naïvely tells him where she is going. He suggests the girl pick some flowers, which she does. In the meantime, he goes to the grandmother's house and gains entry by pretending to be the girl. He swallows the grandmother whole, (In some stories, he locks her in the closet), and waits for the girl, disguised as the grandma.
When the girl arrives, she notices that her grandmother looks very strange. Little Red Riding Hood then says, "What a deep voice you have,""The better to greet you with," said the wolf."Goodness, what big eyes you have.", said the little girl."The better to see you with.", said the wolf. "And what big hands you have!" exclaimed Little Red Riding Hood, stepping over to the bed. "The better to hug you with," said the wolf. "What a big mouth you have," the little girl murmured in a weak voice. "The better to eat you with!" growled the wolf, and jumping out of bed, he swallowed her up too. Then, with a fat full tummy, he fell fast asleep.
A lumberjack, however, comes to the rescue and with his axe cuts open the wolf, who had fallen asleep. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother emerge unharmed. They fill the wolf's body with heavy stones. The wolf awakens and tries to flee, but the stones cause him to collapse and die. (Sanitized versions of the story have the grandmother shut in the closet instead of eaten, and some have Little Red Riding Hood saved by the lumberjack as the wolf advances on her, rather than after she is eaten.)
The tale makes the clearest contrast between the safe world of the village and the dangers of the forest, conventional antitheses that are essentially medieval, though no written versions are as old as that.
Besides the overt warning about talking to strangers, there are many interpretations of the classic fairy tale, many of them sexual.
Folklorists and cultural anthropologists such as P. Saintyves and Edward Burnett Tylor saw "Little Red Riding Hood" in terms of solar myths and other naturally-occurring cycles. Her red hood could represent the bright sun which is ultimately swallowed by the terrible night (the wolf), and the variations in which she is cut out of the wolf's belly represent by it the dawn. In this interpretation, there is a connection between the wolf of this tale and Sköll, the wolf in Norse myth that will swallow the personified Sun at Ragnarök, or Fenrir. Alternatively, the tale could be about the season of spring, or the month of May, escaping the winter.
The tale has been interpreted as a puberty ritual, stemming from a prehistorical origin (sometimes an origin stemming from a previous matriarchal era). The girl, leaving home, enters a liminal state and by going through the acts of the tale, is transformed into an adult woman by the act of coming out of the wolf's belly.
Bruno Bettelheim, in The Uses of Enchantment, recast the Little Red Riding Hood motif in terms of classic Freudian analysis, that shows how fairy tales educate, support, and liberate the emotions of children. The motif of the huntsman cutting open the wolf, he interpreted as a "rebirth"; the girl who foolishly listened to the wolf has been reborn as a new person.
Red Riding Hood has also been seen as a parable of sexual maturity.
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