While it may be hard to determine the most popular fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood is among the most popular of all time and has been told since the late 1600’s. Charles Perrault wrote the first iteration of the story in 1697, and numerous spin-offs and versions have been written ever since. The story has seen its way to the big screen in a number of different films, and has been performed in thousands of theaters across the globe. Most accounts of the tale are altered for the time period in which they were written. The early versions, particularly those before the 1900s have a huge amount of detail and descriptive writing. You could attribute this to the lack of pictures/animation available, and authors were required to be more descriptive so their audience could understand the characters involved.
One of the first versions of Little Red Riding Hood I read was that of Al Collin’s. Written in the 1950’s, the story was most definitely a period piece. Many slang terms of the period were used, such as “give me some skin” and “I’m hipped”. It was targeted at the younger audience, as most fairy tales seem to be. Given the extensive use of slang, the tale may be hard for children to read today. His tale also took a poke at social and political issues of the 1950s. The tale continued to follow much of the original, but with some added humor and detail as well. This version was eventually turned into a jazz song and recorded onto a vinyl record. While it wasn’t a major hit for the time period, it was a unique way of telling a fairy tale that attracted the younger demographics.
Little Red Riding Hood took off internationally as well. It has been adapted and published in a huge number of other countries. These versions tend to differ slightly from the original we know and love.
As you can see, the big bad wolf is not the only villain in these tales. Many other creatures and animals have replaced him, including bears, dogs, and pigs. Animals seem to be a huge part of fairy tales, and are included in almost every tale we know today. Why is that? Well there are numerous reasons. Since fairy tales are generally targeted at child, they can easily identify with animals. They also tend to have a great deal of symbolism and stick in our mind much more than human characters. These animals in fairy tales also tend to “act” like their real-life counterparts. The wolves are generally seen as vicious and deceiving, monkeys are portrayed as smart or clever. The list goes on and on.
The symbolism of the story has been much debated, and one of the biggest pieces lies in her red cap or cloak. While Red Riding Hood presents herself as submissive and in need of help from others, her mother still warns her to remain on the path to grandmother’s house. This is the red cloak implies she is rebellious or too curious for her own good. The red cloak may also be a sign of the future, implying bloodshed or violence that the wolf imposes onto her grandmother.