Little Red Riding Hood
The main character of the story and her namesake, Little Red Riding Hood, is described in various versions as a sweet, young girl whom they loved very much.
"Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen."
She is dressed in a red hood, made by her grandmother, and she likes it so much that she refused to take it off. We don't know the child's name, thanks to the red hood.
"This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood."
What we can infer from the story is that the girl is kind and obedient, since her mother sent her on a mission. She must be trustworthy to complete the task, but also innocent and naïve because she is not afraid of the wolf when they first meet. She also needs a little to recognize the wolf who pretends to be her grandmother when she gets home. When she does, she's scared.
When Little Red Riding Hood comes to her grandmother's house before knocking, she discovers the door is open, but naively enters inside anyway. Little Red Riding Hood's first clue that something's not right was the tone of her grandmother's voice. It was much deeper than she had. But Little Red Riding Hood stays as she has come to visit her ill grandmother, so she must have a cold and thus a deeper voice.
"Little Red Riding Hood, hearing the big voice of the wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grandmother had a cold and was hoarse, answered, "It is your grandchild Little Red Riding Hood, who has brought you a cake and a little pot of butter mother sends you.""
The beginning of Perrault’s version follows the exact pattern as that of the one in the Brothers Grimm version. Even though it is not a young girl, but a pretty girl, the connotation remains the same. A single word change provides readers an indication of where this version of the story is heading and how it will possibly end.
What is surprising in this story is that there is no redemption for Little Red Riding Hood. She never got a chance to learn from her own mistakes. Also, Perrault plainly states the moral he planned after his tale (in a form of a conclusion):
"Moral: Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all." - Charles Perrault
This firmly noted moral by the author leaves no room or doubt for a different interpretation. The wolf charmed Little Red, then he fooled her to take off her clothes and lie with him in her grandmother’s bed. The wolf in the tale is allegorical. He is both man and wolf - a predator. Wolf eating Little Red Riding Hood is an allegory for rape.
Lives in the woods, Little Red Riding Hood is a fair trip to her cottage.
""Oh I say," answered Little Red Riding Hood; "it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village.""
She is both sick and weak, and for her health she needs food packaged by Little Red Riding Hood's mother. She is a woman who is old and fragile and cannot cope easily. We know this because when a wolf comes into the house, it can grab grandma and eat her. The old woman can't even get out of bed to open the door, so she invites the wolf to come in.
"The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.""
In the end, the wolf eats her just before she eats her granddaughter.
We meet the wolf for the first time in the woods during Little Red Riding Hood on the way to my grandmother's house. The wolf first introduces himself as a friend to the girl, but it's all acting.
"As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest."
He tries to trick her into telling him where she is going. When a girl behaves without fear and talks to him, he can get the information he wants and start coming up with a plan. The hungry wolf develops a quick plan to trick Little Red into taking a longer route whilst he'll have the shorter one. Little Red Riding Hood continues on her way stopping to collect some flowers and nuts. At the same time, the wolf was smarter and raced ahead to get to the Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother first.
The wolf in fairy tales represents "stranger danger". Such use of imaginary elements is meant to teach children they should be scared of strangers. This gives the story a somewhat "happily-ever-after" ending and a positive note, but not in Perrault's story. In Perrault's story, the clear winner is the big bad wolf who ends up eating the grandmother and, in the end, Little Red Riding Hood. Perrault not including elements of "happily-ever-after" could be the reason why the Brothers Grimm published their sanitized version in 1812.
Charles Perrault’s tale of Little Red Riding Hood, which was published in 1697, contains a darker end. It includes sexual overtones (especially with the wold) which changes the dynamics of the moral. His version is centered around young girls (Little Red Riding Hood) losing their innocence to male predators (wolfs).