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Western fairy tale. Genealogy of Little Red Riding Hood - Research Paper Example

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To explore the genealogy of a specific Western fairy tale and deduce what values its versions tend to convey to the audience, we need to clarify the very meaning of the term ‘fairy tale’ and the status that fairy tales have had in society…
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Western fairy tale. Genealogy of Little Red Riding Hood
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Download file to see previous pages Scholars agree that there is always something behind fairy tales that makes them more than nursery stories told for amusement. In particular, fairy tales contain representations of the general character of a people or, as Orenstein believes, of collective truths (Orenstein 12). They are reflections of visions of class, gender, and sexuality typical for specific historical periods (Martin 13). As for the definition of the term ‘fairy tale’, literary scholars have yet to come up with it. While the Oxford Dictionary defines a fairy tale as “an unreal or incredible story” or “a tale about fairies”, these definitions seem rather ambiguous: either too broad or too narrow. Thus, a few explanations of fairy tales are accepted in the world of fairy tales scholarship that tend to include the major distinctive features of the genre. One of them was formulated by Jack Zipes, one of the greatest researchers of fairy tales of the modern time. According to Zipes, the fairy tales takes place in “a universe where anything can happen at any time’ owing to the presence of ‘opportunistic’ heroes. The fairy tale is based on the sense of wonder, which produces ‘admiration, fear, awe, and reverence’ for life and for nature (Zipes 5). This paper seeks to explore one particular fairy tale popular in the Western culture in terms of its genealogy and differences of adaptations throughout time, as well as in terms of hidden meanings and morals it tends to convey. Specifically, the paper focuses on Little Red Riding Hood, a well-known fairy tale that is still popular in the Western culture. Genealogy of “Little Red Riding Hood” The story of a small girl that is wearing a red cape or a red hood and is carrying a basket full of food and beverages to her grandmother remains one of the most popular and adored fairy tales in many countries. In the European versions of this fairy tale, the little girl, known as “Le petit chaperon rouge” in France, as “Rot-kappchen” in Germany, and as “Little Red Riding Hood” in Great Britain, according to the plot, encounters a nefarious wolf. While modern accounts of Little Red Riding Hood that are well-known to children have been based on Perrault’s version of this fairy tale which dates back to 1697, as well as on the version of Little Red Riding Hood published by the Grimm brothers in 1812, which evidently derived from the one published by Perrault, the origins of this fairy tale are found in earlier oral narratives that revolved around a similar plot (Orenstein 6). Knight in his exploration of the Little Red Riding Hood and its implied meanings observes that the Little Red Riding Hood had had a lengthy tradition in France before it was published by Perrault. In particular, it is said to have originated from the late Middle Ages and to have enjoyed great popularity in the period between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries (Knight 7). Whereas Perrault’s and subsequent printed versions of Little Red Riding Hood followed the general plot pattern which varied insignificantly, oral versions of the fairy tale that were retold by the peasants during the days of the Old Regime contain a few interesting differences and seem to place emphasis on different things (Knight 7). The basic pattern of Little Red Riding Hood was classified by Stith Thompson in 1961 as follows: there are two major segments, which include the Wolf’s Feast and the Rescue. The former is about the masked wolf’s deception of a little girl who he encounters on her way to her granny’s home. The latter is about the wolf’s being cut open with his victims jumping out of the belly alive; the wolf’s abdomen being sewed full of heavy stones so that he drowns; the wolf’ ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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