Little Red Riding Hood: A Comparative Analysis of Two Cross-Cultural Retellings

Essay by loserdorkCollege, UndergraduateB+, March 2009

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Different versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” have been retold throughout written history. Each retelling was written in a culture of its own, which holds its own philosophies on each of the continuing main ideas in each version. One integral philosophy is their principles of femininity. Because so much time had past from the original work to the time of the newer retelling, the newer version had to be rewritten to tell a different tale, distinguishing the principles of femininity that the two cultures contrasted. Two versions that contrast very well are Brother Grimm’s “Little Red Cap” and Tanith Lee’s “Wolfland”. They offer different positions of femininity, one representing the innocence of the earlier 19th century, the other representing the dominance of the late 20th century.

In Grimm’s traditional version, the femininity of Little Red Cap and her grandmother is a rather fragile one. Little Red Cap is an innocent character.

She sees no danger in giving detailed information about the location of her grandmother’s house, her destination, to a complete stranger: “Her house is right under three large oaks. You must know the place from the hazel hedges near it” (Grimm 620). She is also a naïve character, following the advice of the wolf to gaze upon the flowers and birds in the woods, without ever thinking about his intentions, as she should not have listened to anyone: “Little Red Cap, have you seen the beautiful flowers all about? Why don‘t you look around for a while? I don‘t think you‘ve even noticed how sweetly the birds are singing“ (Grimm 621). Little Red Cap and her grandmother are submissive to masculinity. In this particular version, the grandmother is eaten by the wolf, and later Little Red Cap. Furthermore, both women in this story are rescued by...