Literary Criticism to: Little Red Riding Hood
All childhood stories have some origin and most have lost their way. Catherine Orenstein has discovered the original plot of Little Red Riding Hood. This original version teaches the reader lessons about life. Using the formalist approach I intend to show the reader how this old time fable can be informative to the reader and inspirational when making a decision that you only get one chance to make.
The author starts out by capturing the reader’s attention he opens with, “Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood.”(Orenstein, 2004) during the initial paragraph the author allows the reader to make up a beautiful girl in their mind to focus the story around.
The plot of this story was intriguing because you have a beautiful girl walking through the forest all alone on a mission to visit her sick grandmother. The surprise of the story was she was approached by a wolf. This wolf presented his self as a curious traveler who seemed to be friendly making conversation. This simple conversation that she carried out with the wolf would prove to be the most important lesson in the story.
All parents always tell their children not to talk to strangers and never give personal information out. The wolf inquired several times information little red riding hood should not have afforded him for example, He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf, said to him, “I am going to see my grandmother and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother.” “Does she live far off?” said the wolf.
“Oh I say,” answered Little Red Riding Hood; “it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village.” (Orenstein, 2004)
The author gives the wolf personification; he describes the wolf as a mysterious, dangerous character. He was presented as a clever hunter, who should be feared. He allows the wolf to actually mock being a human to hunt. This is shown in line 16 “The wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, “Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.”” (Orenstein, 2004). He had gotten into the bed and was pretending to be her grandmother. Little Red Riding Hood was described as a beautiful, sweet, naïve young girl. The writer presents her as a gullible child with no teaching of stranger danger. This story is written in third person it gives the reader insight of all things going on. It’s going into details about the mother of the young girl, her sick grandmother, the environment with the wood choppers, and the deceitful hunting wolf.
The most fascinating detail about this old time fable is knowing that this story referenced a young girl losing her virginity. The text states that the original story meaning was “According to the plot, she has just stripped out of her clothes, and a moment later the tale will end with her death in the beast’s jaws—no salvation, no redemption. Any reader of the day would have immediately understood the message: In the French slang, when a girl lost her virginity it was said that elle [a] vû le loup—she’d seen the wolf.”(Clugston, 2010). There was some use of ambiguity; it could be perceived that little red riding hood lost her virginity to a pedophile. The wolf inquired about her destination, arrived there and staged waiting for her and then took her. In addition the grandmother was eaten to which can be perceived as her losing her virginity late.
Not many people know the original origin of the old story Little Red Riding Hood. Knowing that there was a serious message behind this story allows your mind to think a little more in-depth about other popular folktales you grow up reading and loving as well. Catherine Orenstein made an old tale make a little more sense.