Sunday, June 15, 2003

LRRH General Overview

15 June 2003 LRRH General Overview

Charles Perrault is credited with the first written version of LRRH in 1697. Superficially, it appears as a witty parable akin to Aesop's Fables with a twist of satire similar to the Turtle and the Eagle or the Frog and the Ox in presenting a warning about being overly naive or foolish.

Sur la Lune Fairytales: Red Riding Hood Perrault

The Ass in the Lion Skin

The Frog and the Oxc

The Tortoise and the Eagle

The story became immediately popular and jumped the Channel to be included in children's collections in the 18th century, appearing in A Pretty Book for Children and An Easy Guide for the English Tongue in 1784.

When the story appears by Grimm in 1812, it is substantially different. It is written with more melodrama and symbolism that lends itself to a wide array of interpretation. The girl survives; the wolf gets killed and there is a happily-ever-after ending. Nineteenth Romanticism and Victorianism manipulated the story further to make heavy-handed moralizing for children, casting LRRH as an innocent, hapless girl who is deceived by a sly, vicious beast preying on innocent, naive girls entering puberty. With such a theme, there is much interpretation and criticism emphasizing sexual issues within the possible symbols of the story.

Momberger version 1856

Father Tuck's Little Folks version 1890

Ashlimann: Little Red Riding Hood Grimm

The story has suffered from moralists at both extremes; not only those eager to declaim it as chauvinistic propaganda for women's subordinate role in society, but also for abstinence—not of sex, but wine. Two Californian schools banned the story because LRRH was asked to carry a basket containg wine to her granny. The prohibition is ridiculous as California is internationally known for alcohol, drugs and violence; not to mention that it is a major player in the internatioal wine industry. Perhaps the schools shouls also ban Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, becasue the word "grapes" appear in the title. Or better still, California should ban the wine industry altoghether.

University of Penn Books Online Special Collection Banned Books
see Unfit for Schools and Minors banned 1989

Balkan Press Banned Books

Politically controversial LRRH has been used for Nazi propaganda and probably religious satire as early oral versions present a story that closely resembles a Baba Yaga tale in which LRRH wears a red hat and partakes in a cannibalistic feast. Little imagination is required to recognize the red hat of a cardinal and the elements of the eucharist in the bones and blood of granny.

Ashlimann: LRRH version Italy-Austrian

Carina Coulicoglou traces the symbolic nterpretation of fairytale in Reconstruction beginning with Frued's interpretation of Dreams (1900) and his Wolf Man (1918), stating that the child recognizes himself in the wild animals and therefore accepts the mix of human-animal dialogue. Perhaps, this is why Sendak's book, Where the Wild Things Dwell, is universally popular. LRRH is the natural ground for sexual and feminist interpretation with Fromm stressing that the red cape signifies menstruation and sexual vulnerability and Bettelheim later stating that the tale expresses ambivelence between the pleasure and reality principle as well as the reactionary Oedipal-effect in puberty reflecting Freudian interpretation. The wolf-huntsman is actually a dual image signifying two sides of the same person: the father of LRRH.

Psychomedia: Reconstruction

little red

A Study on the Association Between Fairy Tales and the Unconscious
di Carina Coulacoglou (1)

With such interpretations, it is no wonder that feminists bristle and fight back Another perspective concluded in reconstruction by Coulicoglou is that children's identites are easily swallowed up by over-demanding parents, like Saturn devouring his children.

Because LRRH is so easily manipulated by authors to suit their interpretations, it also lends itself to being politically correct. The politically correct version must satisfy all the polarized demands of the special interest groups and yet detonate any possible conflict between deceitful wolves and naive girls.

Politically Correct Little Red Riding Hood

But as any right-thinking, alert person knows, wolves are generally harmless and only help to keep the world in balance.

Defenders of Wildlife : Little Red Riding Hood Lied
Myths and facts about wolves : Do Wolves Affect White-Tailed Buck Harvest
In Northeastern Minnesota
L. David Mech and Michael E Nelson

Little Red Riding Hood Project
University of Southern Mississippi
multiple versions available here with images

The Fairy Tale Project: Bridge from Language to Literature
The Fairy Tale Project, based at Ursinus College last updated 3/23/99.

The Fairy Tale Project: Red Riding Hood
not for the color blind as it is blue type on red background

False Grandmother


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