Little Red Cap in images explained
Red Riding Hood is undoubtedly one of the best-known fairy tales in the world. While many suppose everything is already known about it, there may still be a lot of confusion, mostly due to numerous versions. We will, of course, present the most popular variation by Brothers Grimm, richly illustrated with a combination of colorful and black and white pictures by German illustrator Arpad Schmidhammer, but before that let’s compile a quick FAQ about the fairy tale:
Little Red Cap FAQ
Q: Who is the author of Red Riding Hood?
A: While are most familiar with a version from the collection by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, it was Charles Perrault who gave her a signature red hood. The girl had the hood even in older versions (by unknown authors), but the color was not defined or it was golden. So if we are looking for authorship of the character, Perrault definitely deserves the credit. If on the other side, we need an author of best-known version (with a wolf, who is killed in the end, and the girl who is rescued with her granny by the hunter), we need to credit the Grimms.
Q: Are there any alternate endings?
A: Yes, apart from already mentioned (and later presented in detail) ending there are literary hundreds of alternative endings, varying from extremely pacifistic to unbelievably aggressive ones. Here are a few examples:
The girl convinced the wolf his intentions are not acceptable and she offers him to join her and granny at the picnic. They become friends.
The wolf eats granny and after that, the girl too. No hunter comes by. This is the version by Perrault.
After the most known ending, the story continues. Sometime later Red Cap goes to the wood again and meets another wolf. She learned the lesson, so runs to the granny’s house where they together defeat the wolf.
The girl is already prepared for the meeting with the beast. When he stops her in the woods, she takes a shotgun out of her basket and shoots the wolf.
Q: What’s the meaning of red riding hood?
A: There are several explanations about the meaning of the hood, especially considering its color.
We can start with Perrault, who opted for this color for the first time. He probably chooses red as the color of sin (only a lady of easy virtue would wear red in his times) or the color of life (the hood came from her granny who is clearly losing life power and it may represent menstrual blood as the ultimate sign of the girl turning into a woman).
Folklorists explain red as the color of the sun. Sun is often represented with red color (just think about Japanese flag) and the fact about the golden hood which was known in older variations (one published by Lang in his rainbow series) supports this theory.
Feministic perception looks at red as the color of revolution. For them, Red Riding Hood is clearly the story about rape, suppression of women by men and they see it as a call to rebellion.
We can go on and on…
Q: What is the moral lesson of the story?
A: Depending on the version and the interpretation, we can offer numerous different morals.
It can be a cautionary tale (Don’t stray from the path.)
It can be a consolation story about the cyclic changes in nature (Sun will rise again tomorrow.)
It can be a coded message about the single most important belief in Christianity (rebirth).
It can be seen as a critic of relationships in the existing economy (Powerful old men prey on naive young girls.)
We can go on and on …
Q: When was Red Cap published for the first time?
A: It was included in the first edition of Grimm’s Children and Household Tales in 1812. It was also printed in Perrault’s Tales of Mother Goose in 1697. Its origins can be traced back at least to 10th century but we’ll never know who ‘invented’ the first version and when.
Q: How many versions of Red Riding Hood are known?
A: You can find a very confident assertion about 58 versions of the story, written on the web. But there are definitely hundreds of existing variations, just like other super popular tales like Cinderella and we can expect many new stories about Little Red Cap being written in years to come.
Let’s focus on the story in pictures:
Once upon there was a little girl who got a red cap from her granny. She always wore it so everybody started calling her Little Red Cap. Granny lived in a house in the woods. The girl lived with her mother on the edge of the wood. Then the grandmother fell ill. So the mother told the Red Cap to visit her.
She took a basket with some food and drink with her. On the way, she met a wolf.
The wolf tricked her and overtook the Red Cap on the way to her granny.
He ate the old lady and got in bed to wait for the girl.
In the meantime Red Cap picked flowers.
Then she came to the house of her grandmother.
But she looked strange. She got really big eyes and ears and hands and mouth!
After so abundant meal the wolf fell asleep. His snoring was so loud a hunter heard him.
He entered the house but didn’t shoot the wolf.
He decided to cut his stomach and rescue his victims before that.
He saved the Red Cap and her granny while the wolf was still sleeping.
Then the girl went out and got some stones.
They put it in the wolf’s stomach and sewn it back together. When the wolf woke up he felt out of the bed and died.
It was a perfect time to celebrate!
This edition was published in 1904 by Richard Scholz Verlag as the number 4 in the series of illustrated fairy tales. The first picture is from Munich edition. All others came from Mainz edition, also from 1904.