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Little Red Riding Hood

The Origins

Perrault was the first to write down "Little Red Riding Hood," but the tragic ending of this version has caused some to question whether it has a genuine folk origin.  

The version most widely known today is based on the Brothers Grimm version. 

It is about a girl called Little Red Riding Hood, after the red hood she always wears. The girl walks through the woods to deliver food to her grandmother. A wolf (often identified as the Big Bad Wolf) wants to eat the girl but is afraid to do so in public (sometimes thare are woodcutters watching). He approaches the girl, and she naïvely tells him where she is going. He suggests the girl to pick some flowers, which she does. In the meantime he goes to the grandmother's house and gains entrance by pretending to be the girl. He eats the grandmother, and waits for the girl, disguised as the grandmother. When the girl arrives he eats her too. A woodcutter, however, comes to the rescue and cuts the wolf open. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother emerge unharmed. They fill the wolf's body with heavy stones, which kills him.

The tale makes the clearest contrast between the safe world of the village and the dangers of the forest, conventional antitheses that are essentially medieval, though no versions are as old as that. It also seems to be a strong morality tale, teaching children not to ‘wander off the path’.

The theme of the ravening wolf and of the creature released unharmed from its belly is reflected in the Russian tale 'Peter and the Wolf,' and the other Grimm tale The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, but its general theme of restoration is at least as old as Jonah and the whale.