What does red riding hood wear

“Little Red Riding Hood” — A Tale of 18th Century Fashion? — Ahlstrom Appraisals LLC

Courtney Ahlstrom Christy

Once upon a time, there was a story about a girl in a red cape. Little Red Riding Hood has endured throughout the centuries, and her encounter with the big, bad Wolf of the nearby forest continues to be told to subsequent generations. Since Charles Perrault’s first publication of the narrative in 1697, “Little Red Riding Hood” has become a classic of children’s literature. Despite the various interpretations, one characteristic remains relatively intact with each version: the importance of clothing. 

From the heroine’s namesake to the Wolf’s disguise, clothing is especially evident in the illustrations. The portrayed costumes remain antiquated despite the progression of time. In particular, there is a trend among illustrators to depict the characters in eighteenth-century dress. A comparison can be especially made between the portrayal of “Little Red Riding Hood” and surviving examples of eighteenth-century clothing from various museums. An interesting question arises: has the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” become a vehicle for transmitting eighteenth-century fashion?

Like most fairytales, the writing of “Little Red Riding Hood” derives from peasant folklore. Originally part of an oral tradition, there were many versions of the story throughout Europe including the Italian tale of the “False Grandmother” and the French yarn known as “The Grandmother.”[i] Some folklore scholars even argue that the plot - a girl’s interaction with a wolf and its dire consequences for her grandmother - is medieval in origins.[ii]

Despite many variations of the oral tale, its written form has one definitive written origin. In 1697, the Frenchman Charles Perrault published a collection of tales titled, Histoires ou Contes du temps passé, avec es moralités (Stories or Tales of Past Times, with morals). Included among the story collection was the first publication of  “Le Petite Chaperon Rouge.” Although later versions have relied on Perrault’s narrative, the tale’s seventeenth-century roots did not become a model for later illustrators. Instead, the nineteenth-century French artist Gustave Doré created a series of illustrations for “Little Red Riding Hood” that had a profound influence on later illustrators.[iii] In particular, Doré chose to represent his characters in eighteenth-century costume, or rather, in what he thought was a previous century’s style of dressing. Thus, the heritage of “Little Red Riding Hood” in literary form is a hybrid of a seventeenth-century text and nineteenth-century imagery.

The Fairy Book, 1913

Dinah Maria Craik

Macmillan & Co., London

Red Wool Hooded Cape

Wool broadcloth

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Of all the articles of clothing mentioned and illustrated in “Little Red Riding Hood,” the red cape is the most memorable as well as the most faithfully maintained aspect of the story. After all, what would our heroine[iv] be called without her red cape? Yet, early tellings do not describe her hood as being red. It is likely that Perrault started the tradition of the iconic red cape.[v] In one version of the story written in the nineteenth century, the narrative beings with an explanation of how the little girl came to be named after her hood:

“This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her - the kind ladies wear to go riding - and it made her look so very pretty that everybody called her Little Red Riding-Hood.”[vi]

It is interesting that the term “riding hood” references equestrian wear for women, a fashion category that was greatly influenced by male tailoring. Perhaps the common red color of these cape garments derives from men’s military uniform. There are several surviving examples of red capes from the eighteenth century including the Red Wool Hooded Cape at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This cape or cardinal is made out of English wool broadcloth. Broadcloth was a popular textile for capes because of its felt-like texture, making it an ideal material for staying warm and dry. Another reason capes made out of broadcloth became a common garment for women was due to the boom in the wool trade.[vii] In The Fairy Book of 1913, the protagonist wears a red cape quite similar to the example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the hood attached to the cape.

Other garments worn by Little Red Riding Hood in fairytale illustrations are inspired by everyday dress from the eighteenth century such as the shift, the petticoat, and the apron. Early texts of the tale describe Little Red Riding undressing before getting into bed with the Wolf in disguise as her grandmother. For example, an 1885 text in French describes the scene:

“And each time she asked where she should put all her clothes; the bodice, the dress, the petticoat, the long stockings, the wolf responded: “Throw them into the fire, my child, you won’t be needing them any more.[viii]

While there’s the mention of underpinnings fir Little Red Riding Hood’s outfit, illustrators often choose not to depict the moment possibly because it was not considered appropriate for a children’s book. Instead, artists more frequently represent the moment with the girl already in bed with the Wolf. One the most well-known images is by Doré, who depicts the heroine in what is most likely a linen shift. Several items from Colonial Williamsburg including their examples of a linen shift, corset and wool petticoat have textile parallels to this scene.

Le Petite Chaperon Rouge, 1867

Gustave Doré

J. Hetzel, Paris

Woman’s Shift, Corset, Petticoat, c.1750

linen, cotton, wool (crewel work)

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

In Walter Crane’s 1875 series of illustrations for Red Riding Hood, there is an image illustrated in the beginning of the story when Little Red Riding Hood’s mother tells her to bring a basket of food to her grandmother. The young girl is shown wearing a white apron along with her signature red cape. And while aprons are apart of eighteenth-century attire for women and girls, they were not for everyday wear.[ix] For example, the English Embroidered Apron from Colonial Williamsburg, with its thin muslin material and ornately embroidered Dresden work, demonstrate how aprons were for intended for formal occasions and not a jaunt through the forest.

Despite this common misconception about aprons when depicting Little Red Riding Hood’s outfit, it nevertheless provides the opportunity to discuss the function of such an accessory in eighteenth-century fashion. Another point would be the similarity between the clothing of children and adults during the eighteenth century. Although the character of Little Red Riding Hood is a child, her clothing would be identical to that of an adult woman.[x] Consequently, both the description and representations of “Little Red Riding Hood” in children’s fairytale literature provide an opportunity to discuss aspects of dress during the eighteenth century ranging from the simple linen shift to the richly colored red cape.

Little Red Riding has also been shown in a dress reminiscent of a polonaise gown with the gathering of fabric in the back. This specific draping is made more obvious when looking at the Polonaise Striped Dress from the Kyoto Costume Institute. Yet like the apron, a Polonaise styled dress was an unlikely part of a woman’s everyday attire. Walter Crane’s and other illustrators’ interpretation of eighteenth-century clothing was more likely informed by what was worn by middle-class women during the nineteenth century, which included the changed function of the apron and the draping of fabric for a woman’s dress.

Little Red Riding Hood, early 20th century

Source Unknown

Polonaise Striped Dress, c. 1780

Striped silk, fly fringe

Kyoto Costume Institute, Japan

Little Red Riding Hood is not the only character to be antiquated costume. The attire of the Wolf gradually evolves to clothing that is also evocative of the eighteenth-century. Not only is there the difficulty of depicting a animal wolf in human clothing, but portraying his attire with an eighteenth-century flare adds to the challenge. In an early twentieth-century illustration, the Wolf is depicted wearing a coat, breeches, and a tricorner hat. This outfit is suggestive of a country gentleman’s suit, which can also seen in the painting Monsieur Seriziat by Jacques-Louis David. Although both the Wolf and Monsieur Seriziat wear a white ruffle and top boots, the fullness of the Wolf’s coat refers to a cut earlier than the late-eighteenth century coat as that worn by Monsieur Seriziat.

Monsieur Seriziat, 1795

Jacques-Louis David

oil on canvas

Musée du Louvre, Paris

Linen Shift, late 18th century


Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Illustrators rarely depicted the Wolf accurately when disguised as the grandmother. However, part of this inaccuracy is due to the lack of knowledge of what was actually worn for sleep during the eighteenth-century. It was possible that the linen shift, like the one from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, functioned as a form of nightgown. For the book Household Stories from the Collection of Brothers Grimm in 1875, the Wolf is shown in guise of the Grandmother likely wearing a linen shift.

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, fairytales for children’s literature fell out of favor and were criticized for their lack of moral pedagogy. Yet during the nineteenth century, these tales experienced a revival of popularity partly due to the Grimm Brothers.[xi] In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published traditional German folklore and fairytales in the book Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) which included a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

In contrast to Perrault, the Grimm’s take on “Little Red Riding Hood” has the addition of the Hunter as the heroic character who saves Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother. [xii] It makes sense that when the Hunter is depicted, he is often shown not in eighteenth-century garb, but clothing that is more reminiscent of the nineteenth century. Like the Wolf, the character of the Hunter does not always remain faithful to social norms. That being said, Walter Crane also did an illustration of the Hunter is a hybrid of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century styles of clothing for a fashionable Englishman. In particular, the cut of the coat and the style of hat worn by the Hunter are evocative of an Englishman’s ensemble from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Little Red Riding Hood, 1875

Walter Crane

George Routedlge & Sons, London

Englishman’s Coat and Waistcoat, c. 1795

Silk, applied ribbon work; poplin lined with cotton, steel buttons

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Through these musings of the similarities between eighteenth-century clothing and the illustrations of costume in “Little Red Riding Hood,” it is clear that the imaginary landscape found in the world of children’s literature contains traces of past centuries. Although illustrators have not always been historically faithful in their portrayal of eighteenth-century attire, these images nevertheless indicate a continuing fascination with clothing from the past as character signifiers. While “Little Red Riding Hood” is a tale about a girl named after her red cape, it is also a story where text, image, and fashion intersect to celebrate fashion history.

Household Stories from the Collection of Brothers Grimm, 1875

Walter Crane

Macmillan & Sons, London

© Courtney Ahlstrom Christy

Ahlstrom Appraisals | Personal Property Appraisals and Art Consultations | Serving Atlanta & Southeast

Fine Art, Antiques & Historic Materials  

[i] Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales (Boston: Mariner Books, 1992), 412.

[ii] Jan Ziolkowski, “A Fairy Tale from before Fairy Tales: Egbert of Liege’s ‘De puella a lupellis seruata; and the Medieval Background of Little Red Riding Hood,” Speculum 67 (1992): 556.

[iii] Sandra Beckett, Sandra. “Recycling Red Riding Hood in the Americas” in Studies on Themes and Motifs in Literature: Interdisciplinary and Cross Cultural In North America. (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), 10.

[iv] Different versions of the tale call the heroine by several names all of which reference a red colored garment for outerwear (e.g. Red Cape, Red Cap, Little Red Riding Hood).

[v] Mary Douglas, “Red Riding Hood: An Interpretation from Anthology,” Folklore 106 (1995): 4.

[vi] The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, (London: The Folio Society, 1998), 27.

[vii] Elizabeth Ewing, Everyday Dress: 1650-1900 (New York: Chelsea House Publications, 1984), 35.

[viii] Jones, Steven Swann. “On Analyzing Fairy Tales: “Little Red Riding Hood” Revisited,” Western Folklore 46 (1987): 104.

[ix] Class notes.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ségolène Le Men, “Mother Goose Illustrated: From Perrault to Doré,” Poetics Today 13 (1992): 23.

[xii] In the Perrault version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” it is the heroine’s own cunning that saves her from the Wolf. See Jones, Steven Swann. “On Analyzing Fairy Tales: “Little Red Riding Hood” Revisited,” Western Folklore 46 (1987). 

In 19th Century, 20th Century, Fashion, Prints/Illustrations, 18th Century Tags Fairy Tale

Red Riding Hood – The Story Adventurer


Little Red Riding Hood (1983)
as illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

“Little Red Riding Hood” wears one of the most iconic pieces of fictional fashion ever, but what is it?

The versions of the story that we are most familiar with today largely describe her in a red cloak – a “riding hood”, which was a large, enveloping cape with a hood that women wore riding in winter. Since the story clearly takes place in spring or summer (since she is stopping to pick flowers), it’s an odd garment to be wearing. But spring can still be cold, so perhaps she needs the extra warmth, even if there are flowers growing!

Little Red cap as illustrated by
Eugen Klimsch in the mid-1800s

In the older versions, especially those from Germany, Red doesn’t wear a cape at all. She’s “Little Red Cap” and various illustrators imagined the cap as a mob cap or a bonnet. Given that women and girls often wore caps all the time, this was an easy thing to make bright and iconic.

I like the illustrations where she has a close-fitting bonnet-like cap, such as this one from Eugen Klimsch. It’s cute and feels younger to me than the flopping mob caps generally do.

But Red has gone through so many incarnations in the modern era. Sometimes she’s a fierce wolf hunter in an oddly cute short hooded cape, other times she’s a wide-eyed child in a red cloak with ribbons hanging down. The classic tale is somewhere in between, but the modern movies and stage adaptations certainly play with every possible version of her!

  • Danielle Ferland as Red Riding Hood in the original Broadway cast in 1987
  • Meghan Ory as Ruby in Disney’s television show Once Upon a Time
  • Lilla Crawford in her open-sided Red Riding Hood cape for the 2014 movie version of Into the Woods
  • Red from the animated Hoodwinked movies (2006 and 2011)
  • Amanda Seyfried in the frightening 2011 movie Red Riding Hood
  • Red wears a red skating helmet as a superhero for PBS’s animated show Super Why!
Red Riding Hood on stage and filmThe cape as drawn by Arthur Rackam, 1909

While the red cap or cape is the most iconic part of the story and generally all the name the main character gets, it’s rarely described and plays almost no part in the story itself! The tale would be effectively the same if Red was wearing something completely different. But at this point, it’s such a part of her story that it makes an appearance of some kind in just about every version.

Into the Woods, a Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, actually incorporates the cape as a magical item in and of itself. It becomes one of four iconic fairy tale objects that must be collected for a magic spell.

The red riding hood is so evokative by itself that it can be reimagined endlessly into different shapes and styles without making the character any less recognizable, even though there’s nothing else about her that is!

  • Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Barbie Giftset (Mattel 2008)
  • What Big Eyes You Have Red Riding Hood (Effanbee 2009)
  • Red Riding Hood Forest Frolic (Tonner 2010)
  • Ever After High Cerise Hood (Mattel 2013)
  • Enchanted Red Riding Hood (Enchanted Dolls 2012)
Modern doll versions of Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood is a favorite subject for doll artists and nearly every major doll designer has created a version of her. From traditional to sweet to sexy, there is a doll version of nearly every incarnation of Red Riding Hood. These are just a few of them from recent years.

Danielle Ferland in her wolf wrap
in Into the Woods

One of the things I loved most about the story when I was a kid is almost never used anymore, though. In the end of some of the old versions (after Grandma comes up with the cruelest death for the wolf possible), Red hunts down her own wolf and makes herself a cape of it’s pelt. I assume this detail is simply to show she has become self-sufficient and wise enough not to fall for the same tricks again, but I always loved the idea of her trading in her innocent little girl cape or bonnet for a (probably much warmer) fur wrap of her own making from a wolf she hunted and skinned herself. I mean, it’s the ultimate proof that Red has come out of her ordeal stronger than ever before!

Like this:

Like Loading...

  • Fictional Fashion

The true story of Little Red Riding Hood

The true story of Little Red Riding Hood

© Tatyana Vorontsova

190 years ago, on October 18, 1812, two young scientists, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, put the final point in the book bestseller of German-language literature. The book was called “Children's and Household Tales”, and it was from it that the world became known

“Once upon a time there was a little, sweet girl. And whoever looked at her, everyone liked her, but her grandmother loved her more than anyone and was ready to give her everything. So she once gave her a cap of red velvet, and because this cap suited her very well and she didn’t want to wear any other, they called her Little Red Riding Hood ... ”Who in childhood was not fascinated by this seemingly naive, artless text? Nevertheless, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is not so simple: it is tortuous and intricate, just as human consciousness is tortuous and intricate. nine0007

The first literary version of this old folk tale was published by Charles Perrault in 1697 in Paris - in the book "Tales of my mother Goose, or Stories and tales of bygone times with teachings", dedicated to the princess of the French royal house. In those days, the story of a girl who went to visit her grandmother and met a wolf on the road was told all over Europe - both in the homes of commoners and in the castles of the nobility. The tale was especially popular in the Tyrol and the foothills of the Alps, where it had been known at least since the 14th century. Actually, it was a lot of stories: in the north of Italy, the granddaughter brought fresh fish to her grandmother, in Switzerland - a head of young cheese, in the south of France - a pie and a pot of butter; in some cases, the wolf was the winner, in others, the girl ... Perrault took one of the options as a basis, dressed up the nameless girl in a “companion” cap of scarlet velvet and bestowed the name - Little Red Riding Hood. I must say that in France at the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, when social differences in clothing were strictly regulated, only aristocrats and middle-class women wore such headdresses. A simple village girl, who easily walked in a velvet cap of a defiant color, and even - contrary to her mother's orders - entered into a conversation with a stranger, obviously understood a lot about herself, which the harsh era of the Enlightenment did not encourage. In the finale, the wolf taught a cruel lesson to all the windy young ladies: he "attacked Little Red Riding Hood and swallowed her." nine0007

The gallant author crowned the “cute trifle” (as he called his fairy tale) with a moral:

Little children, not without reason

(And especially girls, beauties and spoiled girls),

Encountering all kinds of men on the way,

No speeches

Otherwise, the wolf might eat them...

The popularity of Perrault's book was amazing, although the 69-year-old author himself, a prominent royal official and member of the French Academy, fearing ridicule, at first did not dare to put his own name on the collection, therefore for the first time, "Tales of Mother Goose" was published signed by the 11-year-old son of the writer - D'Armancourt. nine0007

But the “canonization” of the text did not end there. From the pages of a French book, Little Red Riding Hood returned to oral stories, and a hundred years later reappeared in a literary version - in German Kassel. This time, the philologists brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm acted as authors, who saw in fairy tales by no means “trifles”. Grimms perceived folk tales as a necessary link in the unification of the fragmented German principalities-electors, who spoke different dialects, into a single national state. The goal of the Grimms was to collect and voice "living folk poetry", to preserve the authenticity of folk art. They believed that the “German pramith” was contained in fairy tales, and in their book “Children's and Household Tales” they selected only those stories that were popular in the territory of German settlement. Grimm's fairy tales were considered as pantries in which a single memory of the mythological ideas and beliefs of their ancestors was preserved, and they saw their task in revealing the “authenticity”, the true nationality of the plot. Based on the idea of ​​the unity of the people, the Grimms did not distinguish between written and oral sources, as well as the belonging of authors to different social and cultural strata, believing that in any of the options there is both truth and artificiality. They presented their own version of Little Red Riding Hood, combining oral stories, the fairy tale of Charles Perrault, as well as the verse play “The Life and Death of Little Red Riding Hood”, written in 1800 by the German romantic writer Ludwig Tiek (it was Tiek who introduced the hunter who saves the girl and grandmother from the belly of a wolf). nine0007

A feature of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm is the abundance of details, sometimes seeming nonsense, sometimes everyday life, sometimes just rudeness and cruelty. The girl's grandmother does not live in another village, but in the forest itself. Little Red Riding Hood brings her a piece of cake and a bottle of wine in her apron, and her mother sternly admonishes her: “Go modestly, as you should; don’t turn aside from the road, otherwise you’ll fall and break the bottle, then grandmother won’t get anything. And when you enter her room, do not forget to say hello to her, and not only to look back and forth in all corners first. The wolf reproachfully tells the girl that she is going, “as if she is in a hurry to go to school”, offers to “have fun in the forest”, and Little Red Riding Hood, succumbing to persuasion, enters the forest thicket and begins to collect flowers. Having eaten the grandmother, the wolf not only lays down in her bed, but first puts on a dress and cap. At the same time, he leaves the door wide open. Having swallowed the girl, the wolf snores so loudly throughout the forest that the hunter passing by the hut thinks if he needs to help the old woman. Seeing the wolf, the hunter takes the scissors and rips open the sleeping belly: “As soon as he made the first incision, he sees that the little red cap is visible inside. He quickly made a second incision, and a girl jumped out of there and screamed:

— Oh, how scared I was! It was so dark in the wolf's belly!

Grandmother also got out after Little Red Riding Hood, barely alive - she could not catch her breath.” Then the wolf is punished: his belly is stuffed with large stones. Waking up, he wants to run away, but heavy stones are pulled down, and the wolf falls dead. Each of the winners receives his reward: the hunter takes home the skin taken from the wolf, the grandmother, after eating a cake and drinking wine, gets better, and Little Red Riding Hood learns a life lesson: “From now on, I will never turn off the highway alone without my mother’s permission” . Soon the girl meets another wolf in the forest, and this meeting turns out to be fatal for him: Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother drown the stupid villain in the trough without anyone's help. nine0007

The first publication of "Children's and Household Tales" did not arouse much enthusiasm. The Brothers Grimm's book was seen as a cross between a scientific document and children's fun, the publication was not bought up - readers demanded fabulous romantic short stories. However, after some time, either the authors successfully finalized the material, or the public got used to a strange mixture of archaic oral folk tradition and its literary fixation - the book began to diverge with a bang. Numerous translations were also not long in coming...

Since then, "Little Red Riding Hood" has become the most popular folk book fairy tale in Europe, and then in the world - always relevant and full of hidden meaning, which many tried to comprehend, sometimes crossing all sorts of boundaries in their conclusions.

So, since the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm came out in the year of the victory over Napoleon, in 1812, and were collected at a time when the lands of the Rhine were under the French heel, some researchers saw the French “intruder” in the wolf, and the suffering German people in Little Red Riding Hood , and in the hunter - the expected disinterested liberator. And a century later, the ideologues of the Third Reich, who declared "Children's and Household Tales" by the Brothers Grimm a sacred book, wrote in all seriousness that Little Red Riding Hood embodies the German people, persecuted by the wolf of Jewry. nine0007

The Grimms themselves, deeply religious people, saw in Little Red Riding Hood a single symbol of rebirth - a descent into the darkness and transformation. A hundred years later, Christian researchers who developed this idea declared Little Red Riding Hood the personification of human passions: vanity, self-interest and hidden lust. In the wolf, these same passions are embodied clearly and definitely. Only freed from the wolf's belly, as if born again, the girl is transformed.

Neo-mythologists, supporters of the so-called “wolf-solar theory”, who also considered themselves followers of the Grimms, argued that the fairy tale reflects the change of natural phenomena: the grandmother living in the forest in a house “under three large oaks” is mother nature, Little Red Riding Hood is the sun , the wolf is winter, and the hunter is the new year. Neo-pagans (there were some) considered the wolf to be the most positive character in the fairy tale. The red color of the girl's headdress seemed to them the embodiment of danger, and the grandmother, living in a dense forest, evoked associations with Baba Yaga and the goddess of death of the ancient Germans (by the way, pies and wine were a common sacrifice for the dead and other representatives of the underworld among all Indo-Europeans). So the wolf seemed to them to be something like an ancestor hero, who was trying to free the world from death and fell victim in an unequal struggle. nine0007

Initially, in the oral tradition of the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf was not just an animal, but a werewolf (this is where his ability to speak in a human voice and successful attempts to disguise himself as a grandmother come from). The Grimms, like Perrault, did not advertise it, but implied it. At the end of the 20th century, interest in mysticism provoked a number of relevant interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood, among which the most famous interpretation of the British "Oscar" Neil Jordan - he turned this story into a love thriller about werewolves "In the company of wolves". nine0007

People of the 19th century saw a pure image in Little Red Riding Hood. A fan of "Children's and Household Tales" Charles Dickens in his "Christmas Stories" shared naive childhood reflections: "I felt that if I could marry Little Red Riding Hood, I would know true happiness. " And the Grimms themselves, who dreamed of returning to their national roots, generally believed that before the world was asexual, and “people produced children with just one look (as God acts only with a thought)” - only “then they needed kisses for this and, finally, hugs and carnal intercourse." “Teutonic religious neurotics” (so the brothers were dubbed by little-believing psychoanalysts of the 20th century) when preparing fairy tales for publication, they expelled from them all to any extent erotic scenes and expressions, because they believed that “old poetry” was “innocent”. nine0007

The 20th century made Little Red Riding Hood a brand and a diagnosis. So, in the 30s, supporters of Freud's student Erich Fromm declared that Little Red Riding Hood is a fully matured girl, and her headdress is a symbol of physiological maturity. The mother's warnings to stay on the road and beware of breaking the bottle are warnings against casual relationships and loss of virginity. The main characters of the tale are three generations of women. The wolf, embodying the masculine principle, is a “ruthless and treacherous animal”, and the hunter is a conventional image of Little Red Riding Hood's father (which is why he is not among the despised men). In general, the story tells about the triumph of the female half of humanity over the male and returns the reader to the world of matriarchy. nine0007

In the 1960s, the era of the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism, researchers began to talk about swallowing as rape, a symbolic description of uncontrollable sexual appetite. At the same time, the girl herself provokes the wolf to active actions: she wears a bright hat, talks to a stranger, has fun in the forest ... At the same time, the wolf turns out to be a transvestite and secretly envies the woman's ability to become pregnant. That is why he swallows his grandmother and granddaughter whole, making an attempt to put living beings in his stomach. At the end of the wolf, stones are killed - symbols of sterility, which is a mockery of the desire to play childbirth . ..

There were not so many of those who remembered that Little Red Riding Hood was a fairy tale for children. They timidly pointed to the educational aspect: an innocent child should beware of life's dangers and obey mother's orders. The initial “innocence” of the story was also indicated by the fact that the wolf did not die when the hunter cut open his stomach in order to free the girl and grandmother.

The story of the second wolf was forgotten in the 20th century, it is not mentioned in all modern editions of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales. In essence, this is a sequel, a story about a completely different girl - more experienced, correct, who learned the lessons of the “previous series”. And Little Red Riding Hood, who has lost her innocent naivete, is not interesting to the world - even if it has comprehended everything and survived all possible revolutions ...

source: Everything for the teacher of literature

Pro Little Red Riding Hood | Science and life

Many peoples of the world have fairy tales that are very reminiscent of the plot of the well-known fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood. Anthropologist Jamshid Tegrani seems to have figured out where the girl and the wolf come from.

Since childhood, the fairy tale about Little Red Riding Hood has been known to us under the authorship of Charles Perrault. The collection Tales of Mother Goose, published in 1697, included the now widely known stories of Cinderella, Bluebeard, Sleeping Beauty, and Puss in Boots. But all this is just a literary processing of folk tales, which the author collected. The collection was a fantastic success not only in France, and thanks to Perrault, the fairy tale became a popular literary genre. nine0007

Science and life // Illustrations

Science and life // Illustrations

Science and life // Illustrations

Science and life // Illustrations

View full size

In different countries, the story of a girl who went to visit her grandmother is told in different ways. In some places, a girl becomes a boy (for example, in Iran, where little girls do not walk alone), and somewhere, as in Southeast Asia, the wolf becomes a tiger. But the essence remains the same everywhere. British anthropologist Tegrani decided to find out where Little Red Riding Hood comes from, using the phylogenetic method, which is usually used to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of living organisms. nine0007

The scientist analyzed 58 versions of the story from around the world according to 72 features - the appearance, gender of the characters, the methods by which the villain deceived the victims. According to the Aarne-Thomson-Uther classification, the story of Little Red Riding Hood belongs to the category of plots where a hero with supernatural powers acts (this also includes the stories of Rapunzel and Bluebeard), and is codenamed ATU-333.

According to Tegrani's calculations, around the 1st century AD, this story "originated" from another popular tale - about a wolf and seven kids (ATU-123), and it happened somewhere in the Middle East. Having reached East Asia and Africa, the tale mixed with local versions of the story about the wolf and goats and acquired its own unique features. In Europe, the fairy tale has also been transformed depending on the region. For example, in northern Italy, a girl had fresh fish in her basket, in Switzerland a head of young cheese, and a young French woman carried a pot of butter and pies to her grandmother. The age of the heroine also varies - somewhere she is a little girl, and somewhere a young girl, and a meeting with a wolf, according to some researchers, has a sexual connotation. nine0007

The cap itself, back in the time of Charles Perrault, was a chaperon - a fancy headdress with a cape, and the original French name sounds like “ Le Petit Chaperon Rouge ”, which means “Little Red Chaperon” in French, and in many illustrations it is still the beginning of the XX century, the heroine of the fairy tale is depicted in a red cape with a hood.

The author of the study compares his work, the results of which were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, with the restoration of the fossil record. “Folk tales, like biological species, develop, acquire various modifications in comparison with the ancestral form, and each subsequent generation of storytellers brings something of their own to them. In many ways, this is similar to restoring the evolutionary record. Paleontological history, like folklore, is heterogeneous, so you can use the same methods to reconstruct it,” says Tegrani. According to him, various versions of the tale form three large clusters - the Far East, African and European, and they all are based on a common ancestor, which, unfortunately, is impossible to establish now. In support of his theory, the scientist cites the results of calculations that show that the version of the Little Red Riding Hood tale proposed by the Brothers Grimm originated from the version recorded by Charles Perrault. But the scientist considers the main result of his work to be the proof that traditional phylogenetic methods can be used for linguistic research. As the author writes in his article, cultural and biological evolution have much in common, Richard Dawkins spoke about this, who introduced the concept of "meme" as a unit of cultural information by analogy with the gene. Tegrani uses the concept of "philomemetics", proposed two years ago by researchers Howe and Windram for the phylogenetic analysis of works based on plots popular among different peoples. nine0007

Researchers have previously been interested in the origin of the popular Little Red Riding Hood story. Some believed that the authorship belongs to Perrault, according to other sources, as early as the 11th century, a poem was known that mentioned a priest telling a story about a girl in a red cloak who meets a wolf in the forest. Some believed that the plot of the tale came to Europe from China along the Silk Road. But Tegrani believes that everything was the opposite - the fairy tale came to the Far East already from Europe. nine0007

It is curious that the famous dialogue between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf appeared relatively recently:

Why do you have such big eyes?
It's to see you better.
Why do you have such big ears?
To hear you better.

It is absent in the 11th century source, but it is already in the Chinese version of the story, the first mention of which dates back to about the same time as the French version of Charles Perrault.

Learn more