I’m currently in a Fairy Tales class in college which has to be the coolest class of all time. In it we are delving into the history of Fairy Tales. How they began and where they came from and what they’re really all about. Right now we’re talking about Little Red Riding Hood and I’m sure all of you know the basic story. Girl going to grandma’s house, wolf eats grandma, then eats red riding hood, huntsman comes in kills the wolf and frees red and the grandma and they all live happily ever after. But that’s not how it originally went. In fact the original version has no huntsman, red saves herself. The later version, no one saves either of them they just get eaten up. And of course eventually we get to the one that we all know of today. But I find it very interesting the journey the story took.
First off, did you know the stories were originally told by women sitting around, most likely sewing, and telling each other stories. It was the fact that they were told by women that so many sewing items tend to pop up. The most famous would be the spindle Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on. The original tale of Little Red Riding Hood is called the Path of Pins and Needles. Namely because there are 2 paths she must pick from, ones named Pins and the other is Needles. Which is why in the original telling shows the girl being smart enough to know that that furry creature in the bed isn’t her grandmother and then tricking him into letting her go. As she’s running away it’s women washing sheets at a river who help her across on a sheet and then let the wolf get half way across before letting go of the sheet and he drowns. That’s right, women can be smart.
Later on though, when Charles Perrault (no the Grimms didn’t tell it first) got the story he changed it to be about basically loosing your virginity. The warnings of getting into bed with a wolf. This is the telling where the wolf eats up the grandmother and then poor little red burns her clothes as she’s instructed to do and then climbs right into bed with the big bad wolf. Where he eats her and there is no saving her. After all you can get your virginity back, when it’s gone it’s gone. The Grimm’s version is the one that changed it to a telling for kids and added the happier ending where a woodsman comes and saves Red and the grandmother and blah blah blah. But though I hate it for old granny I like the first one best. It’s kind of tiring that in all the fairy tales it has to be some guy that comes and saves us poor weak and silly creatures better known as women. But it’s also got me really looking at these old tales. What really started them all and what do they mean. And I’m especially thankful for authors like Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale, and Jessica Day George, who have all taken the old stories and remade them where the girls got some sense and oft times it’s them saving the Prince.