Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays: Little Red-Cap (aka Little Red Riding Hood)

Special Thanks to my Personal Faery Friend for the Button Art: Ye Olde Faery Shoppe

I am once again posting Fairy Tale Fridays late and I want to apologize profusely here . . . Sorry, sorry, sorry!!  I am feeling a turn-a-round.  I even already have next week's FTF already written!!  

With that out of the way, let's move on to one of the most well-known fairy tales, Little Red-Cap or what is more commonly known as Little Red Riding Hood.  Little Red is known because of her red clothing, whether it be a cap or a cape or a cloak, depending on the version you are reading.  She has a great relationship with her grandmother, who just so happens to have given her the red cap.  One day, she hits the road to take some treats to her grandmother, meets the wolf, and ends up in an unexpected predicament . . . both the grandmother and Little Red end up in the stomach of a sleeping wolf!  Of course, the woodsman comes to the rescue and cuts them out still in one piece, saving the day and allowing all (but the wolf) to live happily ever after!

This is one of the more prevalent stories in my inspiration for FTF, The Book of Lost Things.  As I was reading further into the research for this book, I came to discover that Little Red Riding Hood has many sexual undertones!  What?!?!  Once I read more about it, these undertones did become more clear to me, but I don't know if I would have ever caught this on my own.  In a nutshell, the wolf can be symbolized as a man, ready to eat up the sweet and innocent Little Red!

What I have found to be the most interesting about this tale is all the different versions or adaptations or references over the years.  In fact, there is this website known as the Little Red Riding Hood Project, compiled via University of Southern Mississippi and edited by Michael N. Salda.  It contains 16 versions of the tale along with amazing images of the books and stories themselves. As I perused these different versions, I came to discover that in some, Little Red is simply eaten up.  In others, she is eaten and then rescued by some version of the woodsman.  And, as in my own personal copy, she survives thanks to the woodsman, but then encounters another wolf on a later trip and once again succeeds and survives.  There are a multitude of similarities, but the endings and most intriguing, the morals all pretty much differ! . . . Don't talk to strange man.   . . . Never stray from the path. . . . Listen to your mother/elders. . . . Be cautious of those animals within us . . . That is just a few that I've come across and can think of!!

Which "moral" of Little Red-Cap do you like the best?  What are your thoughts in regards to the sexual undertones mentioned above?


Friday, April 16th: New, modern version of a classic tale 
Friday, April 23rd:  The Butterfly by Hans Christian Andersen
Friday, April 30th:  One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three Eyes by Brothers Grimm
Friday, May 7th:  The Three Bears by Robert Southey


  1. What a great undertaking! You seem to have some solid insights into the tales, plus this is just fun. I am going to put you on my blogroll at I blog and teach about fairy tales.

  2. I think the moral I like best is the one that I still think is the most necessary for young girls and women today and that is to look out for strange man/the man who claims to be in touch with his feminine side/all men. It's a little jaded but true, it was true then and is still true today. You have to keep your eye our for "those type" of men and learn how to escape or risk being devoured, the sooner you learn it, the better.

    I also think that the sexual overtones (that the uptight Germans and Victorian Americans stripped out, go figure) was what made this story survive and pass down through the middle ages into today. It's a coming of age story and a cautionary tale for the Red's of the world. That's why it continues to hold true through the centuries, slightly different permutations throughout but, at its heart, still Red.

  3. I'm not sure I believe in the sexual overtones ... after all, the wolf ate the grandma first. ;)

  4. I left two links this week, one for thoughts on the original, the other for a re-telling I read. I never caught the sexual overtones, either.

  5. @Kristen M. - When Perrault wrote the story it was believed that he based the wolf on a real life person: King Louis XIV's bi-sexual brother who often dressed as a woman so he could lay in the beds in the female-only lounges and seduce the virgins stupid enough to get into bed with him.

    "Devouring" in that case was simply stripping out the woman and putting on her frills so that young women would drop their guard around him.

    Think of it like a 16th century metrosexual, with an agenda. Or those guys that pretend to be gay just to get into women's pants. It's the same type of thing.

  6. KateW . . . Thank you for stopping by! I will definitely be checking out your site as well! And, please feel free to read and discuss along with us! I would love to hear your thoughts!!

    bitsy . . . I always enjoy reading your thoughts and I can't wait to read your link about it! I will be visiting soon to see what you have to say about it! And, as for your second comment . . . VERY interesting about King Louis XIV!! I have NEVER heard this before!! Hmmm . . . definitely food for thought on this one!!

    Kristen M. . . . I seriously laughed out loud reading your thoughts!! Very good point about the grandma going first!! :)

    carolsnotebook . . . I can't wait to read both of your links! Unfortunately, it is way late and I must go to bed!! Too tired!! I will be by soon!!

  7. I missed it this week but just wanted to say I love Little Red Riding Hood-especially Trina Schart Hyman's illustrations.

  8. Peaceful Reader . . . I always love to hear your recommendations on fairy tales! Illustrations really play a huge part in my judging of books, particularly picture books. And, I think we have a lot of the same interests in this area!!


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