Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault is a story every child learns that is about a young girl with a red riding hood who goes into the woods to deliver some food to her very ill grandmother and in her journey she encounters a wolf who in the end wants to trick her into believing he is her grandmother. However children only enjoy a simple fairy tale for the fact of being imaginary, as when we were children we never sensed a double meaning to this story.
In Charles Perrault version of this popular tale he adds a moral to this tale which is “Children, especially attractive well bred, young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various types of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all” (Perrault).
With this moral at the end of the story we can realize how he is using a gender based opinion by how he is directly stating young girls as defenseless and only assuming girls to be a target. When he mentions children he states rapidly the term “young ladies”, not realizing also that young males are also a target for predators. This story provides an incentive of paranoia for a child with his words of describing a wolf terrorizes the idea of speaking to a stranger which makes it seem he is describing a male.
Even if his intentions are to raise awareness on the dangers that are out there this purpose fails since he makes the mistake of not alerting the audience of both genders, only referring to a specific one. I refer to children because he relates them with young women, the similarity he sees between them is of defenseless, naive and vulnerable in every way. The male however represents a wolf and it is easy to figure out once you see how Charles Perrault refers to women being the weaker gender.
Needless to say stories sometimes withhold more meaning than mere words; the context of each story is what holds the real purpose of the writer’s words. That is why in this version Little Red Riding Hood is portrayed as a helpless young girl in need of protection. This story is very symbolical because the author feels the need to depict how vulnerable red riding hood was when in his story he wrote “Little Red Riding Hood took off her clothes and got into bed” (Perrault). We can also realize how graphic the scene gets after this when they confront each other in the bed and finally he ends up eating her up.
Notice how in the end the author lets the wolf have his way and neither the grandmother or red riding hood made it alive. The story had no happy ending like every traditional tale did. Just think how can we have freedom when we are confining ourselves and others to have stereotypes that don’t allow us to think freely since it narrows our mindset to one thing? We can’t. It affects our young society to live with these stereotypes that limit their potential; a girl could grow up thinking she should aspire to only be a housewife and not anything else.
I personally have been affected by these stereotypes because they still exist to this day. Sometimes I feel like my presence doesn’t make as much as an impact as a man would in the business world. Not only did this not end happily ever after, the main characters died and left the readers with a negative thought. The main audiences for this story are children and the plot ends a bit too harsh, we could agree that this isn’t really child appropriate. If we want to keep the children of our society innocent and teach them in a much healthier way not to trust strangers this story is not the way to do so.
It encourages the thought of stereotypes and could give the wrong idea to what children should consider dangerous. The author describes the wolf as what we could call a sociopath. It is not a child’s duty to know everything since they are children and that is why parents should care for them to look out for their wellbeing. Furthermore it is not healthy to create so much doubt in a child since this could result in anxieties that can develop in a child’s mind creating traumas.
Comparing a wolf to a stranger is not the best way to teach a child to not trust strangers and in addition to this; strangers are not always the bad guys giving the fact that most child abuse happens among those who aren’t strangers. Let’s teach our children regardless of race to be alert of any signs that they should consider dangerous strangers or not. In addition women should be respected by not being compared to children since this belittles them as a person. Women and men are created equal so it isn’t right to underestimate either gender because this can affect the person’s outlook on life in the long run.
Courtney from Study Moose
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