An Essay Examining Gender Roles In The Child's Fairy Tale Red Riding Hood, Or "Little Red Cap".

1016 words - 4 pages

Little Red CapAll too often we see fairy tales depicting one-dimensional characters put in difficult situations. This creates an almost eerie continuity between all fairy tales as we see similar situations played out again and again by even more similar characters. Little Red Cap is no exception, especially when looking at gender roles. Sexually innocent and unknowing of the world, Little Red Cap can be unsuitably titled our heroine of the story. Throughout the tale, what seems to be a primarily female driven storyline turns out to be dominated by the more intelligent, resourceful, stronger male characters. The tale teaches that young women should be cautious of smooth talking men when given some freedom of their own because they are vulnerable and at the mercy of strong men who have power over them.The Story begins with Little Red Cap's mother lecturing her not to "stray from the path" on her way through the woods (747). While this seems like basic advice its underlying message is that if Red Cap does stray from the path she would be in danger. This parallels what might be told to a young women today going out for the night. Straying from the path is symbolical of remembering what you have been taught growing up or straying from the moral path that you have always known. Red Cap is getting a taste of freedom and her mother seems anxious about this as shown by her lecture.Red Cap throws all this advice out the window when she encounters the wolf. He asks her "what are you carrying under your apron?" (747). He is alluding to the food Red Cap is delivering to her grandmother, but it could also be perceived as sexually suggestive. It is arguable that the story could be viewed as a chastity tale, preaching the importance of young women staying away from smooth talking men who see them as easy prey. Here we also see the predictably foolish Red Cap pinpoint the location of her destination for the wolf: "About a quarter of an hour from here...under the three big oak trees. You can tell it by the hazel bushes." (748). The clever wolf is able to gain information from the susceptible Red Cap and at the same time gain her trust. She is so clueless at this point that she is completely the mercy of the wolf.Right after Red Cap leaves his company, "[t]he wolf thought to himself, this is a good juicy morsel" (748). Two things are evident in this statement. First, the carnal appetite of the wolf (juicy morsel) is shown again in another suggestive remark. Secondly it shows the girl is an unthinking puppet at the direction of first her mother, then the wolf, who is capable of rational thought and devious logic. "Little Red Cap," he said, "just look at the beautiful flowers that are growing all around you! Why don't you look around?" (748). Once Red Cap is trapped by desire, it eludes her, and leads...

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