I think everyone loves the story of Little Red Riding Hood…or at least holds some fascination for the little girl that strayed from the path and faced the Big Bad Wolf all by herself. He reappears in a lot of other fairy tales, The Three Little Pigs, Peter and the Wolf, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and a few others that I can’t remember right now. I think the Wolf is supposed to represent temptation, darkness and greed. And in my opinion I think Red Riding Hood liked that about the Wolf. Why else would she have strayed from the path? I think everyone goes through that phase in life as one point or another. Wanting to see what’s going on off the trusty path. What’s lurking in the darkness? But that’s just my humble opinion, that’s what I get out of the story. Again…maybe that’s why people are so fascinated by the fairy tale.
There are several versions of this story, personally I prefer the Brothers Grimm version. 🙂
Here’s what I got from wikipedia:
The story revolves around a girl called Little Red Riding Hood, after the redhooded cape/cloak (in Perrault‘s fairytale) or simple cap (in the Grimms’version called Little Red-Cap) she wears. The girl walks through the woods to deliver food to her sickly grandmother (grape juice and banana bread, or wine and cake depending on the translation). In the Grimms’ version at least, she had the order from her mother to stay strictly on the path.
A mean wolf wants to eat the girl, and the food in the basket. He secretly stalks her behind trees and bushes and shrubs and patches of little grass and patches of tall grass. 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 then says, “What a deep voice you have,” (“The better to greet you with”), “Goodness, what big eyes you have,” (“The better to see you with”) “And what big hands you have!” (“The better to hug/grab you with”), and lastly, “What a big mouth you have,” (“The better to eat you with!”) at which point the wolf jumps out of bed, and swallows her up too. Then he falls fast asleep.
A lumberjack (with the Brothers Grimm, and always in German tradition, a hunter), 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. Specifically, the tale parallels how an innocent victim can be taken in and controlled by a criminal mentality, therefore, facilitating further subjection of a crime or harm against a vulnerable victim through mischievous criminal intent by removing the victim from a familiar or “safe” public location – facilitating the crime in an effort to isolate the victim by drawing her to another location “away from the public eye” where the criminal entity has complete control over the victim.
It also warns about the dangers of not obeying the mother (at least in the Grimms’ version).
In the 19th century two separate German versions were retold to Jacob Grimmand his younger brother Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, the first by Jeanette Hassenpflug (1791–1860) and the second by Marie Hassenpflug (1788–1856). The brothers turned the first version to the main body of the story and the second into a sequel of it. The story as Rotkäppchenwas included in the first edition of their collection Kinder- und Hausmärchen(Children’s and Household Tales (1812)).
The earlier parts of the tale agree so closely with Perrault’s variant that it is almost certainly the source of the tale. However, they modified the ending; this version had the little girl and her grandmother saved by a huntsman who was after the wolf’s skin; this ending is identical to that in the taleThe Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, which appears to be the source.
The second part featured the girl and her grandmother trapping and killing another wolf, this time anticipating his moves based on their experience with the previous one. The girl did not leave the path when the wolf spoke to her, her grandmother locked the door to keep it out, and when the wolf lurked, the grandmother had Little Red Riding Hood put a trough under the chimney and fill it with water that sausages had been cooked in; the smell lured the wolf down, and it drowned.
The Brothers further revised the story in later editions and it reached the above mentioned final and better known version in the 1857 edition of their work. It is notably tamer than the older stories which contained darker themes.