Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding-Hood.

The illustrations to The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, 1922, by Harry Clarke. Click for full size.

I’ve included the moral of this one because Perrault had written Little Red Riding-Hood as a warning to readers about men who were trying to prey on young girls who were walking through the forest:

The Moral

From this short story easy we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn.
But above all, young, growing misses fair,
Whose orient rosy blooms begin t’appear:
Who, beauties in the fragrant spring of age,
With pretty airs young hearts are apt t’engage.
Ill do they listen to all sorts of tongues,
Since some inchant and lure like Syrens’ songs.
No wonder therefore ’tis, if over-power’d,
So many of them has the Wolf devour’d.
The Wolf, I say, for Wolves too sure there are
Of every sort, and every character.
Some of them mild and gentle-humour’d be,
Of noise and gall, and rancour wholly free;
Who tame, familiar, full of complaisance
Ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance;
With luring tongues, and language wond’rous sweet,
Follow young ladies as they walk the street,
Ev’n to their very houses, nay, bedside,
And, artful, tho’ their true designs they hide;
Yet ah! these simpering Wolves! Who does not see
Most dangerous of Wolves indeed they be?

Note: Although this particular book was published in 1922, Perrault first published his fairy tales in 1697.


  1. rq says

    What a strangely appropriate preface to the story, re: current events.
    And what a tragedy, really, that the problem was identified so long ago and jackshit has changed, really. Jackshit. (And the moral is applicable not only to young girls, of course.)
    The illustration is exquisite. I love the birds.

  2. says

    Oh, I know. I read this, and I remember reading what the ancient Greeks and Romans had to say about women. The fruits of patriarchy, and yes, it’s damn depressing this shit is still going on, and even when people speak out, all we get is the noisy keening of men whining about their loss of privilege.

  3. rq says

    “Just wait a little, we’ll get to you eventually, there’s so many other things going on and besides you can’t expect us to solve all your problems at once, give it a little time, we’re making progress, you could at least be grateful for that.”
    “Ha,” says Little Red Riding-Hood, “Fuck you.”

  4. says

    Shameless but on-topic plug: ‘Quite Contrary’ is about a girl who ‘becomes’ Little Red Riding hood and literally says ‘fuck you’ to the wolf, and to pretty much everyone else.

    Typical of her is an early scene where, at a fork in the road, the Wolf gives her a choice of taking the easy path or the hard path through the woods, confident both lead to him. When he swaggers off she trikes out sideways between the trees on neither of the paths.

    Quite Contrary, by Richard Roberts

  5. Tethys says

    What a gorgeous illustration. I too love the birds. The top picture with all the nobles slavering after Bo Peep in a red cloak is pretty creepy. Red Riding Hood was an ancient folktale when Liege recorded a version in the Medieval period.

    This researcher made evolutionary trees for various folk tales. The story about a red hat or hood wearing girl going into the woods and being eaten/not eaten by a wolf was rooted in the 1st Century. Red Riding Hood

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