Little Red Riding Hood
According to historians, the origins of Little Red Riding Hood can be traced back as far as the 10th century. As with many European folk tales, there were a number of different versions told in different countries. While the plot details might have varied, the overall theme was the same: a young girl, named for her magical red hooded cloak, is stalked by a wolf as she goes to visit her grandmother. The cunning wolf recommends that she pick some flowers for her grandmother. Then, when the girl is distracted, he runs ahead to the grandmother’s cottage to lie in wait for his young prey.
In most versions of the tale, the wolf eats the grandmother whole. He then dresses in her bonnet and waits in her bed. Little Red Riding Hood is tricked into believing the wolf is her elderly relative and joins in him bed, where she is also eaten. Most famously, in the widely-read version written by Charles Perrault and published in 1697, there is no happy ending – nobody comes to rescue her and cut her from the wolf’s stomach.
More disturbingly, in Perrault’s version, the girl strips naked before getting into bed – a clear indication that the fairy tale was originally a morality tale warning girl of wily seducers. When the Brothers Grimm penned their version more than a century later, such sexual overtones were removed – and versions, where the wolf serves Little Red pieces of her own grandmother to eat, were ignored completely. Instead, they gave the tale a happy ending, with a brave and handsome huntsman saving the day by killing the wolf and cutting both the grandmother and her granddaughter free from his stomach.
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