Monday, February 22, 2016

Wolf Tales and Little Red Riding Hood

 I like wolves. Wolves are fascinating. In a way, I think they're a good metaphor for introverts. Although there's no such thing as a lone wolf, when you see wolves (unless you haunt the nature channel), you usually see only one. Alone. 


When wolves hunt, they aren't actually together. They're spread out. They give each other their space. But when they find what their looking for, or when there's danger, they're just a howl away.


I don't know if that actually makes sense to anyone else but me. 

So, I thought it would be neat to look at some different fairy tales involving wolves. Yeah, that went over blazing well. HAHAhahahe. *cries*

Lilo and Stitch

Talk about crushing the belief that Little Red Riding Hood is a kids' story. I knew a most fairytale had dark origins, but this? WHO IN THE WORLD THOUGHT FAIRYTALES WERE FOR KIDS!? If the original (especially The Grandmother) version of  Little Red Riding Hood was told today, parents would rebel. As a movie it would be R, as a book it would be banned.

Wolves in fairytales are practically synonymous with sinister. Understandably so, wolves were a huge threat long ago, especially to agricultural regions. Even when wolves are not depicted as pure evil, they're still greedy and brutal.

The Native Americans seem to be the only people who speak well of the wolves. You've probably heard of the Tale of Two Wolves. If not, then you've clearly not seen Tomorrowland. In which case, shame on you. Go watch Tomorrowland. (Uh, no it's not a faiytale, but that's beside the point.)

I love this deeply. One of the biggest truths to my mind. I am part Cherokee, a small part. None-the-less, I am very proud of this heritage. May we all be conscious enough to choose what we feed ourselves--physically, emotionally, spiritually.:

This site talks about the different archetypes that wolves play in stories. This other one talks more about the symbolism of wolves.

I love this picture; it clearly doesn't own dark origins.

The White Wolf is an exception to the sinister wolf. As we discussed previously, this story is drawn from East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The wolf in this story isn't necessarily bad. He could be considered a wise wolf since later in the story he very tactfully makes his wedding guests understand about his first lover. 

The Wolf and the Man is somewhat interesting. The wolf seems to represent pure brutality as well as pride, while the fox represents cleverness. You can probably guess who will win. 

Little Red Riding Hood is very interesting and yet macabre. The original is in fact quite dark with a meaning that is very unsuited for young children. There are many variations of it, one of them being The Wolf and the Seven which isn't half as gloomy.

Little Red Riding Hood is thought to be derived from a story in 11th century Belgium. It is kind of interesting that Perrault's version simply ends with the wolf eating Little Red, while the Grimm brothers are actually more forgiving. They give Red Riding Hood a second chance. This site here talks about why Perrault's version was so harsh. Also, I really like the explanation at the end of this one. It says the LRRH was a story that explained the lunar eclipse. Which is more innocent than the interpretation of the the French version (this site does discuss the mature nature of the story, just to forewarn).

Red Riding Hood:

The French version is actually titled The Grandmother and was probably intended for a more mature audience. Although it's probably the most gruesome, in this version Red Riding Hood saves herself. I have a small thought that this was probably the first story of Little Red Riding Hood.

When different people groups pick up a tale from a different culture, they tailor it to their own traditions and customs. The thing is not all stories are going to be passed between culture lines. One culture may be adverse to another's take on a tale. The message or morals of the story may not appeal to everyone. 

Yet nearly every culture has a Red Riding Hood look alike (Cinderella also; you could drown in a sea of Cinderella stories). Something about the story must be universal. 

Who's afraid of the big bad wolfe?:

At it's core, Little Red Riding Hood is about naivety meets predator.

The story, especially The Grandmother, indirectly asks, is naivety and innocence the same thing? Can a person be one without the other and vice versa? I have always believed they are two separate ideas. Naivety is a lack of good judgement, and in some ways ignorance. Innocence on the other hand is the quality of having done no wrong; innocence is blamelessness. In the story of The Grandmother, Little Red losses her innocence because of her naivety. If she had better judgement or had been more informed (the story's purpose for its audience), she could've kept her innocence. 

There have been many modern reinterpretations of Red Riding Hood that vary widely from the original interpretation. Sometimes it's more kid friendly. Like Hoodwinked.

What do you think? Are their any other wolf stories out there? 


  1. Ooo I didn't know little Red Riding Hood had such dark origins. I mean,I guess I did, but you tend to forget about it especially when it's mostly played off as a fairy tale, and most fairy tales are told to kids. Maybe I shouldn't have been so harsh on Crisom Bound, but it wasn't the dark stuff that bothered me, the creepy stuff was great. I just felt like it was twisted spiritually, and that bothers me. I guess I found some parts demonic in nature, and I'm sensitive to that stuff.
    Thanks for sharing all these stories. You seem to read a lot of the original stories. I am jealous of your knowledge of these fables.

    1. It is really dark. And I don't blame you though. Things that are spiritually dark tend to make me uncomfortable to (and I don't consider that to be a bad thing).

      Haha! Thanks! But it's really not that much. After deciding to do a fairytale theme, I realized how ignorant I was about fairytales,since I didn't grow up on them like other people. so I cram researched for a month (and panicked). But I learned sooo much.

  2. :D I feel a little awkward admitting it, but the reason I prefer Red Riding Hood over most of the other popular fairytales is because of the mature symbolism behind it. I guess part of what grabs me about it is that it is quite different in tone. It's not about getting your prince or anything. The various interpretations of both the wolf and Red have always fascinated me. I think it's maybe because my mind sees more leeway in the story--more ways to translate it for younger viewers. The symbolism can be changed and yet kept equally powerful. For instance, instead of the original wolf and what he represents, a modern story could have the wolf-symoblising greed and Red could be a young business person who comes into the field blindly and caves to greed. (That was just spur of the moment, so, rather rough--but I hope I still made sense. :P)

    Also, I really like what you said about wolf packs, and I think that would marry well with the symbolism in Red Riding Hood. Like, in my modern translation that I just came up with, she assumes Greed is a lone wolf, and so she caves, but then suddenly all these other bad elements come into her life because they were part of the pack. :P

    Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed reading this post. I haven't had a chance to click on all the links yet, but I do plan to return soon to explore them all. Thanks for pulling everything together like this! :D

    1. I liked Red Riding Hood before, but honestly when I started researching it I started to like it even more for the exact same reason. My favorite is actually the French's The Grandmother and that one's probably the darkest of all the versions.

      Oh, I didn't even think of that. But you're so right. There's so much potential for Little Red Riding Hood in modern reinterpretation. That's so cool! I really like those ideas. Especially casting the wolf as the ideal of greed, since in a lot of fables wolves did represent greed. There would be so many chances to play with metaphor and symbolism. *nods* I like it!

      Yep. No problem. :) I knew next to nothing about fairytales so this project actually made me learn so much. I definitely enjoyed it so I'm really glad you have too!

  3. I started thinking about the dark side of fairy tales lately, and Red Riding Hood definitely came into mind. I haven't researched nearly as extensively as you did, but I still really like the story and think it's really interesting. I think it's even more interesting that there are so many versions, and that one little change to the story can change a lot of the meaning.
    Amazing analysis! I really enjoyed reading this post :)

    1. So true, jut a little tweak and it changes everything in the story! It's really amazing how profound that is. But yes, LRRH is definitely one of the more macabre fairytales, especially The Grandmother.

  4. What's Tomorrowland?

    I've never seen a wolf.

    I heard that story about the two wolves recently though, as a talk illustration. You have a spiritual dog and a dog of the flesh, and you have to choose which to feed. So my church friends and I now tell each other, "feed your spiritual dog!"

    My favourite Red retelling is this poem by Duffy, which I properly love. It's the first in The World's Wife Collection.

    Interesting that both Red and Cinderella have so many manifestations. I guess we all want a story about the underdog getting the better of her tormentors and finding her prince; but the flipside of that, necessarily, is a cautionary tale about running off with whomever you meet. Cinderella could probably have done with hearing Red. Maybe she wouldn't have trusted Prince C so quickly.

    1. Tomorrowland is a movie. You've never heard of it? I really liked it. A nice sci-fi movie, buuuut. . . it does have a touch of time travel. Not sure if you would like it? But it's good all the same. Fun too.

      I've never seen a wolf except for on TV. Although I have seen coyotes.

      Yeah? Somebody told me that story when I was a kid, like sevenish. Maybe it was my dad?

      Hm, that poem is very interesting!

      Oo, I never thought of it that way. But you're so right. The two tales are nearly in direct opposition with each other. I always did wonder what would've happened if Cinderella was a little more skeptical about people, and not so trusting. I guess back then though, she wouldn't have had any other way out of her family life though then to marry out of it? *shrugs*

    2. No, never heard of it, but I'll look out for it. (Ugh, but time travel!)

      I have seen ... a dog. A fox. A badger. A mole? That's as exciting as it gets in Britain.

      RiiiiIIIght? "Yes, Emily, I shall read much Duffy posthaste!" Right you are! ;)

      Hmm. I feel a retelling coming on!

    3. No, Emily, no retelling. I can't handle anymore ideas right now.

      Although it would be really interesting because--

      No, stop it!


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