art by ciahra.
- Name. In some accounts, the name of the girl in red riding hood is Maisie.
- A tale of seduction. A French engraving that accompanies the first published version of the story (1697) shows a girl in her déshabille, lying in bed beneath a wolf. The story says that she has just strips out of her clothes and joins the beast in bed, whom she thinks is her grandmother.This is Charles Perrault’s version (Le Petit Chaperon Rouge). The wolf’s act of “eating” is sometimes interpreted as a metaphor for sexual assault.
- Lost Virginity. Because of this tale, the popular slang elle avoit vu le loup, which translates to “she’d seen the wolf”, is an expression commonly used when a girl loses her virginity.
- Color of Sin. Still in Perrault’s story, the color red of the hood signifies the girl’s “sinful nature”. Perrault said that red symbolizes scandal and blood, which in turn implies the girl’s sin and her impending fate in the hands (or jaws) of the wolf. Some versions said this symbolizes rape.
- Wolves in Court? In the earliest versions of the tale, the antagonist is sometimes portrayed as an ogre or a werewolf (also known as a ‘bzou’). This makes the story a bit relevant in a time where inquisitions and witch trials are rampant as well as trials for werewolves (see the case of Peter Stumpp).
- No happy-ever-after. Little Red Riding Hood was intended to teach children and well-bred young ladies the danger of talking to strangers. In the Brothers Grimm’s desexualized/sanitized version, a hunter or a last minute rescuer comes for the heroine; in the earlier versions, she is just devoured by the wolf, and no rescuer came.
- Cannibalism. In an Austrian version, the grandmother is eaten by the wolf before Little Red Riding Hood arrives. Granny’s entrails are used to replace the string on the door latch and her teeth, jaws and blood stored in her cupboard. When Little Red arrives, she is hungry and so is directed to eat her dead grandmother’s teeth (rice) and jaw (chops) and drink her blood (wine).
- Variations. Since then, a lot of other writers create their own versions of the tale. There is one where there is striptease or defecation involved; there’s one where the werewolf is a vegetarian and the heroine is a lesbian; there is also a version where Little Red Riding Hood kills the wolf with a revolver.