"Little Red Riding Hood": A Warning Against Temptation

Essay by ecameronCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2006

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I think that from one angle of this fairy tale, there is a very clear undertone of sexuality, temptation and/or rape. While it was passed down for centuries as a children's tale, maybe meant to warn them to obey their parents or to illustrate the ancient adage "don't talk to strangers," upon looking closely one can easily find submeanings and put the story into an entirely different context.

Beginning with Little Red Riding Hood herself: while she can be portrayed as an innocent child, she is also a girl on the cusp of womanhood, someone who is repeatedly illustrated as very pretty, playful and curious. She wears red, which has long been considered a color of sin or passion and is definitely not the choice color of someone meek, who does not wish to stand out/attract attention.

She in a way loses this innocence, going through a sort of sexual awakening.

This can be seen for example in a passage from the Grimm's version: the wolf entices her to look around and notice the beauty, and as if for the first time, Red Riding Hood "saw how the sun had broken through the trees and everything around her was filled with beautiful flowers" (136.) She continues to stray from the path upon which she was specifically instructed to stay by her mother in most versions, picking flowers (which in itself is often a metaphorically sexual act.) This passage brings to mind a similar passage about sexual awakening from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: "She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a...