Below are the question prompts we would have discussed in full during class on Thursday, if technology has been on our side:
In her introduction to the versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Maria Tatar notes the “free-wheeling violence” of many fairy tales a common feature of stories in earlier centuries and one which provided, as it does today in many cartoons, entertainment and excitement (3). Discuss the role of violence in the “Little Red Riding Hood” tales we read for today, particularly in “The Story of the Grandmother” and the versions by Perrault and Grimm. Do these versions present the same degree of violence? What role does violence play in each story?
As you think about those two larger questions and compare the versions, here are some other questions to get the comparison underway: How graphic is the violence in each of these versions? Who kills whom? What role does violence play (if any) in conveying the moral?
Adult readers are often surprised and rather appalled (as you may have been) by the sexual components and connotations of these versions of “Little Red Riding Hood.” So, let’s talk more specifically about the character of Little Red Riding Hood in the versions we read for today, particularly in “The Story of the Grandmother” and the versions by Perrault and Grimm. What image of girlhood do these versions present? Is it better to have knowledge (say, of sex), according to these versions, or to remain innocent or ignorant of such knowledge?
As you think about these two larger questions, here are some to get you started: In each of these versions, is the Little Red Riding Hood character clever or naive? Does she save herself or is she saved by another? Does her character lead her to her death or to continued life? What role does her character play in conveying a moral?
In her introduction to _The Classic Fairy Tales_, Maria Tatar notes, “Fairy tales register an effort on the part of men and women to develop maps for coping with personal anxieties, family conflicts, social frictions, and the myriad frustrations of everyday life” (xi). In fairy tales, these conflicts and themes might include the struggle to achieve independence, the discovery that we’re all alone on our journey to maturity, anxiety about meeting parents’ expectations, and anxiety about being replaced by another.
Which of these conflicts appear in the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood”? Do all versions of the tale showcase the same conflict or theme, or showcase it in the same way?
Please respond to these two questions for a final posting:
1. If, as author Angela Carter suggests, versions of fairy tales are like versions of a recipe for potato soup, which recipe for “Little Red Riding Hood” do you prefer from today’s menu options? Why?
2. Instead of accepting what’s on the menu, would you prefer (like James Thurber or Roald Dahl) to revise one of the tales? If so, which one and why? If not, why not?