Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Evolution of Little Red Riding Hood

In the popular fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, the road to grandmother’s house is no walk in the park – it is dark, ominous, dangerous. It also offers choices, but Little Red Cap tends to make those that lead to trouble. The innocent heroine’s decisions always involve a seductive stranger, usually a wolf. In the Brothers Grimm version of the fairy tale Little Red Cap’s naivety and poor decision-making get her into a lot of trouble, and though she eventually escapes, she cuts it quite close. In Angela Carter’s modern interpretation of the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood is forced to sacrifice her dignity and virginity in order to keep her life; this is the result of yet another credulous decision made on the way to grandmother’s house. While the general storyline of an innocent girl encountering a flesh-eating wolf on her way to grandmother’s remains largely congruent in both of these adaptations of the classic fable, the differences in moral and theme suggest an evolution of women from dependent and naïve to self-empowered and aware of the influence of sexuality.

In the classic Brothers Grimm account of Little Red Riding Hood the prevailing moral seems to be, as Little Red Cap puts it at the end of the story, “Never again...

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