Entertainment for Adults or Teaching Tool for Children?

Thursday’s class began with a Mickey Mouse presentation starting the semester off right! The presenters went through the entire history of Mickey Mouse and how Walt Disney was able to accomplish all that he did through this famous icon. We were told that mickey mouse is one if not the most influential symbol in the entire world. With all the popularity coming from this little mouse, Walt Disney decided to get it copyrighted and trademarked in order to keep its icon only within the Walt Disney Company. The presenters also showed us a cool transition of the Mickey Mouse icon starting from the first one in 1928 to the current Mickey Mouse today. Although this mouse has small parts about it that has changed, overall this little mouse of Disney is still globally known today.

After the very informing presentation, we moved on to our first discussion of one of The Classic Fairy Tales, “Little Red Riding Hood” in all its many versions. We had the joy of being able to go through and discuss all eight versions of this fairy tale. It was interesting to point out who the hero, villain, and helper of each of these versions were. Although there are aspects of the story that remain consistent throughout the different versions, I personally was very surprised by how much these versions varied. It is evident that the moral of the story is dependent on the culture’s values. For example, some authors wrote of Little Red Riding Hood overcoming the wolf and working with her grandmother to kill the wolf, but then another version of this fairy tale tells of the wolf eating the grandmother and even the little girl. Very clearly there are different lessons or purposes for these tales being written in the manner that they were.

Most Americans probably grew up hearing the Grimm Brother’s version of “Little Red Cap.” The American version of this story was to teach children lessons. To be honest, Little Red Riding Hood is one of the fairy tales I remember the least in comparison to Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and so many other stories that were able to expand, entertain, and keep my attention more so than the “Little Red Cap.”

The last version written in this Norton Critical Edition is “The Three Little Pigs.” I would assume just about every child has heard the story of the three little pigs, but I know that personally I had NEVER heard the version of Little Red Riding Hood coming to the rescue by killing the wolf, and then turning around and killing the sweet little pig. There is probably a reason I had not read that version—I know that if I had any children I would not want them to hear the gruesome and depressing ending of Roald Dahl’s tale.

The other five versions of Little Red Riding Hood have their unique quirks and morals dependent on how the author wrote. “The Story of Grandmother” has more of a focus on the mother of Little Red Riding Hood and her command for her daughter to take the hot bread and milk to grandmother. Although the wolf did kill grandmother, Little Red Riding Hood was smart enough and managed to escape her death. There were still aspects of this story like the description of grandmother’s blood in a bottle and her flesh in the pantry that I am not sure I would want my children to read, but overall the story is entertaining and at least Little Red Riding Hood survives!

Charles Perrault also wrote his fairy tale in a gruesome way, but the most interesting characteristic of his story is his separated moral section at the end of the tale. Typically authors write stories and leave it up to the reader to determine what the moral or point of the story was, but instead Perrault felt the need to clarify and explicitly lay out the lesson of the tale.

“The Little Girl and the Wolf” and “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf” provide a more modern aspect to this tale by providing the little girl with an automatic weapon that ultimately saves her life and kills the wolf. “Goldflower and the Bear” tells the tale of a brave little girl who kills the beer with a spear. There is the additional aspect of Goldflower’s brother presence yet no help to the little girl in this life-threatening situation. The moral of the story here is most likely to encourage little girls to be strong and brave to defend themselves.

Finally one of the most entertaining versions of the tale in my opinion is “The False Grandmother.” Little Red Riding Hood goes through all these obstacles of the Jordan River and the Rake Gate to get to her grandmother’s house, and then when she has to escape and run away from the wolf, the Jordan River and Rake Gate end up helping her out!

Little Red Riding Hood tale ranges from teaching tools for children to pure entertainment for adults. The authors of these different variants of the tale expanded and transformed the tale with their own beliefs and desires allowing this tale to be spread and used for all different means throughout the world. The now publication of these tales will hopefully help to continue the spread of Little Red Riding Hood for the rest of time.

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