A Comparison of Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault and Little Red Cap by the Brothers Grimm
The stories ?Little Red Riding Hood,? by Charles Perrault, and ?Little Red Cap,? by the Brothers Grimm, are similar and different. Moreover, both stories differ from the American version. The stories have a similar moral at the end, each with a slight twist. This story, in each of its translations, is representative of a girl?s loss of innocence, her move from childhood or adolescence into adulthood. The way women are treated within each story is different. Little Red in the French version was eaten; whereas in the German version, she is rescued by the woodsman, and this further emphasizes the cultural differences.
The common elements in the two stories are the wolf, Little Red (Riding Hood/Cap), her grandmother, and her mother. The beginnings of the stories are also similar: Little Red?s mother sends her to grandmother?s house because the grandmother is ill. Both stories mention that Little Red is personable, cute, and sweet. This is something that, on initial inspection, seems irrelevant but holds a deeper meaning for the symbolism behind the story. In both stories, the wolf, wandering through the woods, comes on Little Red and asks where she is going. When Little Red responds that she is going to visit her sick grandmother, the wolf distracts her with the suggestion that she should pick some flowers so that he can get to her grandmother?s house first. The wolf arrives at Little Red?s grandmother?s house before Little Red and disguises his voice in order to be let in. When he is let into the house, he promptly devours the grandmother and disguises himself in her clothes in order to eat Little Red as well. At this point, the two narratives diverge.
The ending is the major difference between the two stories. Perrault mentions immediately that Little Red is the ?prettiest creature who was ever seen? (Schlib, 2003, 667). She is naïve and does not realize that the wolf is trying to trick her so that he can eat her. She is easily distracted by the flowers, nuts, and butterflies that she finds along the path he sends her on. When she gets to her grandmother?s house, although she feels that something is wrong, she enters anyway. Little Red strips off her clothes and gets into the bed with the wolf, still disguised as her grandmother. The wolf promptly eats Little Red, and, apart from the moral, that is the end of the story.
In the Brothers Grimm version, Little Red gives the wolf specific information about where her grandmother lives. The wolf easily distracts her, showing, once again, her naivety and innocence. After the wolf shows up and eats the grandmother, Little Red arrives. Her mother instructed her not to look in all the corners when she arrived, and so, even though she was scared, she did what she was told, and the wolf swallowed Little Red and falls asleep. A wandering woodsman hears the snoring and enters the house to see...