Little Red Riding Hood, like any other classic fairy tale, is originated from ancient folklore that had been orally told for centuries from one generation to the next by often illiterate people before being written down. The tale had been considerably changing and subject to numerous adaptations as they spread throughout the world.
The Little Red Riding Hood Story had been in circulation since 14th century in several European countries. The earliest written version of this tale is the one collected by Charles Perrault in 17th century. Here are some notable differences between the earlier and the more popular version
In the earlier version the antagonist is sometimes a werewolf or an ogre. In its medieval version, the wolf leaves some of the grandmother’s blood and meat that he had eaten for Little Red Riding Hood to eat. The girl then cannibalized or own grandmother unknowingly. This cannibalism part had been omitted from later versions.
The redness of the hood.
Why the hood is red? The redness of the hood had been given many symbolic interpretations by folklorist and anthropologist. Some said that the red hood represents the bright sun and the wolf represents the night. When the girl safely escapes from the wolf, it represents the coming of May, the spring season escaping the winter.
Other folklorist argued that according to the moral of the middle ages, the red color is a symbol that the girl has come of age. The wolf then symbolizes a man or predator who seduces the girl. The wolf tricks the girl and eats her up. In this case, the story is about rape. In the earliest French version, Little Red Riding Hood is even asked to undress and gets into bed with
The fate of the Red Little Riding Hood and the Wolf
In the earlier version, the wolf eats the grandmother. After disguising himself as the grandmother, the wolf successfully eats the little girl too. There is no happy ending. The girl is dead, end of the story. A tragic end for the girl. The storyline is simple and cruel.
In the later version, the one recorded by Perrault in 17th century, a hunter comes saving both the grandma and the little girl that had been swallowed by the wolf by cutting the wolf’s tummy using scissor. Miraculously both ladies are still alive. And this not ends here. The hunter grabs some stones, put it inside the wolf’s tummy and sew it up. The wolf off course dies and the hunter triumphantly wears the wolf’s skin. A gruesome end for the wolf. The storyline is more complicated but no less cruel.
In the most recent version, while the grandmother hides in a closet, the hunter comes before the wolf eats the little girl and the hunter bravely chases the wolf out of the house. A happy ending for all, No one get killed, eaten or cut into pieces. This is the most sanitized version of the story. The one we read to our children at bedtime.
The moral of the above various versions remain the same: to teach young girl not to talk and trust stranger.