The timeless old tale of a little girl who goes to her grandmother and meets a wolf has undergone several changes. They were in accordance with the authors’ social stance and what was politically acceptable in their place of living. Perhaps one of the oldest variations of the fairytale, Perrault’s story was written solely to entertain the royal court in seventeenth-century France. Originally gross, the folk tale was adapted to satisfy the refined taste of the court of King Louis XIV (Silva 170). At that time, France experienced a period of prosperity and absolute monarchial rule. The status of women was inferior, and the Church proclaimed strict moral rules which they had to follow. Thus, Perrault’s tale has its hidden moral meaning that men can take advantage of innocent women.
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The Brothers Grimm, though, rewrote the tale in their own way. At their time, the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation came to an end, and many of its parts were occupied by the French troops (Atkinson 657). German people were suffering from hunger and poverty brought by the war. Thus, the Brothers Grimm wrote their novel to cheer people up, showing them a world of miracles and happy endings. The fact that the tale takes place in Medieval Germany instead of contemporary Germany may be explained by the authors’ desire to remind people of the time of the strong Holy German Empire to inspire them and evoke a sense of patriotism.
If the Brothers Grimm had written about all the hardships experienced by their compatriots, the tale would not have gained such popularity among people struggling with suppression on a daily basis. The authors made an attempt to show Germans how powerful their country once was to make them proud of it and boost the feeling of nationalism. Also, the Brothers Grimm’s version erased every single element of eroticism brought by Perrault. While Perrault discourages women from being sexually promiscuous, the Brothers Grimm only advise children to stay obedient to their parents.
In summary, Perrault’s and Brothers Grimm’s versions of Little Red Hood differ in several ways. While Charles Perrault intended to entertain its readers and, which is more important, the royal court, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm aimed to distract Germans from the hardships of war and instill a sense of patriotism. Thus, Brothers Grimm’s tale is almost desexualized, whereas Perrault enriched it with peculiar elements of eroticism.
Atkinson, Christopher. A History of Germany 1715-1815. Routledge, 2018.
Silva, Vaz Da. “Charles Perrault and the Evolution of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.” Marvels & Tales, vol. 30, no. 2, 2016, pp. 167–190.