“Little Red Cap” is a folk text initially written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Today, it is also widely known as Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH). This fairy tale reveals a typical story about an innocent protagonist who encounters adversity and transforms or evolves in the resolution. Among the most popular versions of “LRRH” are those made by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. Of course, each of them changed this fairy tale and the relevant aspects to some degree, altering details and adding information that was not mentioned in the original.
Some many themes and ideas are laid into the story about the Little Red Riding Hood. One of the most important of them is the naivety of adolescents. First of all, this theme can be vividly seen in the episode when the Little Red Riding Hood first meets the wolf. In fact, in both versions, the Little Red Riding Hood shows her naivety when she thinks that her grandmother has completely changed because of her disease (Ashliman).
The only difference between the two versions is that in the Perrault’s adaptation, the girl gets into bed to her grandmother, while in the Brothers Grimm’s adaptation, she speaks with her grandmother standing beside the bed. Therefore, the degree of naivety in Perrault’s version is higher than in that by the Brothers Grimm. Additionally, their conversation is slightly different in each interpretation. Perrault begins it with: “Grandmother, what big arms you have! – All the better to hug you with, my dear.” The Brothers Grimm write: ”Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have! – All the better to hear you with” (Ashliman). However, the result of this conversation is the same in both versions.
The second theme in the story is the danger of trusting strangers. This is probably the central theme, as the consequences of trusting strangers are vividly demonstrated at the end of the tale. Thus, in Perrault’s adaptation, the Little Red Riding Hood trusts the wolf when she first meets him: “Well,” said the wolf, “and I’ll go and see her too. I’ll go this way and go you that, and we shall see who will be there first.” She believes that he wants to find out who will be the first to come to her grandmother’s house.
In the Brothers Grimm’s adaptation, she thinks that the wolf wants her to come deep into the forest solely because it is naturally beautiful there: “Listen, Little Red Cap, haven’t you seen the beautiful flowers that are blossoming in the woods? Why don’t you go and take a look?” (Ashliman). As a result, in both versions, the girl and her grandmother are eaten by the wolf.
Another theme that can be elicited from the story is the theme of men as protectors. Regarding this theme, the difference between the two versions is significant. In general, Perrault tries to express the idea that men are dangerous predators, whereas the Brothers Grimm show that men can also serve as protectors.
Thus, in the Perrault’s interpretation, there is the only one representation of men, namely, the wolf, who is shown as a cruel predator who wants only to satisfy his hunger: “As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up” (Ashliman). In the Brothers Grimm’s version, the wolf represents the same idea but with a different outcome, as he is killed at the end of the story by a hunter who symbolizes good men and shows them as saviors and protectors: “He has eaten the grandmother, but perhaps she still can be saved. I won’t shoot him,” thought the huntsman. So he took a pair of scissors and cut open his belly.”
The story under analysis is considered a tale of magic with supernatural adversaries. The main reason for this is that magically enhances the effect caused by the story. It adds exaggeration to the main ideas of the tale, thereby increasing their influence on the reader. Besides, a supernatural aspect attracts the reader more, as it is almost impossible to predict the events that will happen at the end (Ashliman). Particularly, in the Brothers Grimm’s version, it is quite unexpected that a hunter cuts the wolf’s belly with the scissors, pulls out the Little Red Riding Hood with her grandmother from there, and puts a pile of rubble inside.
In essence, it is clear that both authors follow a similar storyline and some similar thematic inclusion. Nevertheless, both adaptations are quite similar in terms of the theme of naivety, especially taking into account the fact that it leads to the Little Red Riding Hood’s demise at the end of the story.
One of the main contrasting aspects between the two interpretations is that in Grimm’s version, the huntsman provides a second image for what men represent which in this case is protection and a ‘paternal’ image; the initial image of men as predators clearly remains an important implicit thematic that revolves around both interpretations given that the wolf clearly represents the evilness that sexual predators in real-life use to prey on vulnerable youths. Additionally, this tale is a perfect candidate for falling into the category of “Tale of Magic with Supernatural Adversaries” considering that the tale’s villain is an animal with the ability to speak and prey on two human women.
Ashliman, D. L. “Little Red Riding Hood.” University of Pittsburgh, 2015. Web.