ding HoodThe tale of Little Red Riding Hood has transformed a great deal through the course of time. Numerous reasons can be attributed for this change. These include, but are not limited to, the opinion of the author, expectations of the audience or readers, and what was socially acceptable during the time period. One small element that stuck out was the differences in the underlying moral at the endings of the three tales.
A large difference is seen between the ending of the first rendition of Little Red Riding Hood and the other two versions that will be discussed. In The Story of Grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood uses her wit to escape unharmed from the wolf. Rather than a dire warning it appears to be a coming-of-age story in which the girl is not punished for turning from a child to a woman, she tricks the wolf and escapes. An interesting detail to note in this version is that she unknowingly eats part of her grandmothers flesh and drinks her blood. There is no implied reason for this facts significance in the story, but it may be a reference to societies that practiced cannibalism in the past who believed that by eating their enemy, they would take on their strength. The girl in this story appears to be growing up and taking on the knowledge and wisdom of her grandmother. She can deal with the threat of the wolf in her own way and uses this knowledge, wisdom, and maturity to escape.
Charles Perraults tale of Little Red Riding-Hood ends on a more negative tone and conveys a rather different message. The underlying moral in this tale seems much clearer. Do not stray from your path and dont talk to strangers. If you do, then you will be punished for your actions. In the end, Little Red Riding Hood is clearly punished for her actions because the evil wolf eats her. This moral is carried out further because grandmother is also eaten. She is being punished for foolishness in allowing the wolf in to begin with. This tale implies that there is no sympathy for those who commit these acts and they are not forgiven in the end. In other words, people who mess up do not receive a second chance.
The Grimms tale of Little Red Cap ends on the most positive note of the three renditions that have been looked at. The story has both Little Red Riding Hood and grandmother being eaten by the wolf. In the end, grandmother and the girl need a man to save them from their peril, while the original heroine takes on the wisdom which comes with age, and survives on her own wits. This also says something about societys opinion of the role of women during this time. The wolf is punished for the first time in this version. His body is filled with stones and the huntsman removes his skin. It is possible that the wolf is punished, if not for trying to eat Little Red Riding Hood and grandmother, then for being lazy and falling asleep in grandmothers bed instead of somewhere safe. The main difference here is that Little Red Riding Hood is punished for her actions but then is forgiven and allowed to learn from her mistake.
Altering the underlying moral is an integral element to the story. It reflects the changing views of the author and society between one time period and another. At one point it was generally agreed upon that people should not be forgiven for their wrongdoings. When this view had changed, that element of the story was changed as well. The case is the same in the role of women throughout history. There was a time when the step for a girl to grow up and become an independent woman was looked upon in a positive manner. This perspective changed and later, when women were expected to be subservient and dependent upon a man, a newer version of the story reflected the current view.