I’m breaking away from the winter theme for a week (because it’s surprisingly hard to find them) to examine Little Red Riding Hood. This week the movie Into the Woods comes out (and I am beyond excited to see it!) and part of the story follows Little Red as she attempts to navigate the woods to her grandmother’s house. Little Red Riding Hood was a story told for years before being published. Charles Perrault wrote the earliest version in 1697. The Grimm Brothers’ version was published in 1812. The Grimms actually based the story off of two separate versions and split the tale into two parts; the original and the sequel. The first part is nearly identical to Perrault’s, so they probably drew inspiration from it.

Perrault’s Version

Perrault’s tale features a young lady travelling to her grandmother’s house. A scheming wolf tricks her into telling him where the grandmother’s home is and he heads there, avoiding the woodcutters in the forest. He eats the grandmother and when Little Red arrives, he tricks her into climbing into the bed where he’s hiding and he eats her as well. That’s it. No happy ending. It’s rather depressing. It was published in a book called Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals. So the moral of Little Red? Don’t talk to strangers. At least, not wolves.

Grimm’s Version

The only change the Grimm Brothers made to the first part of the Red Riding Hood story was the ending. In their tale, a huntsman saves Red and her grandmother when he kills the wolf for it’s skin. The sequel shows Red and her grandmother wiser for the experience; after another run in with a wolf, Red and her grandmother lay elaborate traps for it, eventually killing it.

Fun Fact #1

In the Grimm story, the main character is actually called Little Red-Cap because she wears a red cap, not a red hooded cloak.

Fun Fact #2

As is often the case with fairy tales, the older tales are much more gruesome than the ones we see today. In some of the earliest tellings, the wolf tricked Red into eating parts of her grandmother and tells poor Red to take her clothes and throw them in the fire before getting into bed. In some versions, he eats her. In others, she manages to escape.

Fun Fact #3

Instead of a wolf, some versions feature an ogre or a werewolf.

If You’re Interested….

Like I said, Disney’s Into the Woods comes out on Christmas. It’s a film adaptation of Sondheim’s musical, which I have loved for years. I highly recommend the movie, even though I haven’t seen it yet. What I’ve seen from commercials and teasers looks fantastic! The plot also features fairy tale favorites Cinderella, Jack and his beanstalk, Rapunzel, and of course, Little Red.

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

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