Little Red Riding Hood --- German Fairy Tales (3)
November 30, 2017 12:09pm CST
The story in a nutshell: a little girl who always wears a red cap is told by her mother to take a basket full of food to her sick grandmother. She lives in the woods. The girl is told not to leave the path but go straight to granny’s house. On the way she’s accosted by a wolf who suggests she pick a bunch of flowers for her grandmother. While she is doing so, the wolf runs to granny’s house, devours her and lies down in her bed. When the girls arrives, the wolf devours her, too. Later a hunter comes, slits open the wolf and the girl and the old woman are rescued. They fill the wolf’s belly with stones and it dies. Little Red Riding Hood is one of the best known fairy tales of the collection of the Brothers Grimm. Many versions exist, many interpretations and also many parodies. It belongs to the subgenre of fairy tales which are meant to frighten and thus warn the listeners and readers. The girl is described as exceptionally cute and spoilt. It is naïve and has never experienced anything negative in her young life. Her mother does warn her to leave the path in the woods but only so that she won’t break a glass. She doesn’t warn her of a possible encounter with the wolf. Because of this the girl isn’t afraid when the wolf talks to her but answers politely. The wolf can be seen as the incorporation of evil, the wood for wilderness standing in contrast to the order and innocence of Little Red Riding Hood’s present life and the civilised life in the village. But it can also be seen as the male enticer exploiting her inexperience. The following catastrophe is not a blow of fate but the result of mother’s and grandmother’s mistake not to prepare the girl for all possible events in life. The hunter is the master of the woods, the positive male protector of the weak. But at the time when the fairy tale was found by the Brothers Grimm, wolves were not abstract concepts but realistic dangers for the people. Wolf attacks were something people knew about in those days. When Little Red Riding Hood comes out of the wolf’s belly, she declares that it was dark inside and that she’ll never disobey her mother again. Fear has helped her to mature. The red cap has invited many interpretations. The colour red symbolises life and joy, but it can also be associated with menstruation, thus indicating the development from girl to woman. Other interpretations see the colour red as a symbol for the sun, the swallowing as the onset of night and the reappearance after the hunter has come to rescue as dawn, a symbolic natural cycle. Take your pick! --- Picture from pixabay
15 people like this
• United States
Well, Little Red Riding Hood should have stayed on the path as instructed by her mother, and her mother should have told her to beware of the wolf. Those two females messed up. My mother made a Little Red Riding Hood costume for my sister to wear on Halloween. It was one of Mom's best creations.
2 people like this
• United States
@MALUSE No wolf was out and about when my brother and I took her with us, but I do believe if Sis had not been with us, the wolf would have gobbled her up! My brother and I never took our eyes off of our little sis, Wendy. We adored that kid; still do. This song was a big hit here back in the day.
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These fairy tales take me back to my childhood days - the days of my life when I had nothing much to worry about. I read that story so long ago that I don't recall Red Riding Hood being swallowed whole - but you did mention that many versions existed. I like the interpretation.
I only know the Grimm version. But then it's only logical that both grandmother and girl were swallowed whole. If not, how could they have jumped out whole after the hunter cut open the wolf? I hope you won't dissect the reality of the tale now like LadyDuck has done. You have to take fairy tales at face value. Otherwise, they don't work.
Little Red Riding Hood is the fairy tale I love best. Once I spent some time rewriting fairy tales giving them as many twists as I could. This girl for me symbolized the grow of humankind when we cut the strings from our education and experiment our own values. Sometimes we win, others we lose, but that is the reason why we are out of caves.
@MALUSE My fairy tales were written for adults. Usually there are too many adults who have not read the fairy tales when small. My own versions were read (and loved) by my children but they were adults by then. I started to write short stories when my daughters were teens.
Love this one as a child and I find myself cheering on the wolf. Same case with the wolf in 'The Three Little Pigs', I had wanted to hear and read a version that the wolf wins. Even as a child, I did not see fairy tales as simply 'good vs evil' but rather a way to place children into compliance and put into a bad light things that we do not understand completely.
• United States
Oh, I never even thought about the symbolism of her red cape - I didn't even think about the menstruation part . I have sometimes thought the red cape was like the ones used by a matador . . . red is a target . . . her naiveness made her a target for the evil wolf. I often wondered what if the hunter did not come to rescue Little Red Riding Hood . . . it's not always the case that a person would be saved . . . in fact in many such cases the outcome would be grim (no pun intended).
I love fairy stories and trying to piece together where they might originate. A mother here in the UK recently asked for a ban on Snow White being told to small children because it enforces the idea that women are weak and need saving and this subconsciously affects their place in the world as adults. Perhaps she thinks we should tell them the original version!