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View Diary: Bookflurries-Bookchat: Animals in Stories (217 comments)

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  •  "The Big Bad Wolf" (16+ / 0-)

    It's interesting how often a "wolf" appears in folklore & mythology, representing a threat to the natural order.

    • In Norse Mythology, it's foretold Odin will be killed by the wolf Fenrir
    • The Three Little Pigs
    • Peter and the Wolf
    • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
    • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
    • Little Red Riding Hood

    Most modern versions of fairy tales come from two sources: The Grimm Brothers from Germany, and Frenchman Charles Perrault, the collector of the "Mother Goose" tales. The big change they made to [Little Red Riding Hood] was the ending. That woodsman showing up seemed a little like a third act re-write of a movie due to bad test screenings, didn't it? Where the hell did the woodsman come from?

    Well, the woodsman was a later addition to the tale. In the early versions of the story, Red and her Grandmother are dead. The. Goddamn. End. Also, in most versions the woodsman cuts the pair out of the wolf's belly, where they're mostly none the worse for wear despite being eaten, which implies to us the wolf in that story world eats like some sort of python, by unhinging its jaw and swallowing prey whole. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

    Much earlier versions also liked to spice up the sexuality angle of the story, by having Red outwit the wolf by performing a striptease for him while he's lying in bed dressed as her Grandmother, and then running away while he's "distracted" (Note to any young girls out there: if you are ever abducted and menaced by someone, DO NOT DO THIS).

    Wait, it gets worse. This is the most horrifying bit that got filtered out before the tale reached both the Grimm's and Perrault (and in fact, only made it into a few written texts). In this version, the Wolf dissects Grandmother, then invites Red in for a meal of her flesh, presumably with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti. Then he eats her, too.

    Story's over! Sweet dreams, little Sally!

    Variations of almost every element of Little Red Riding Hood appears in modern horror movies. The Big Bad Wolf is the archetypal "slasher" villain; a predator who shows almost supernatural abilities to deceive & manipulate his victims, which are almost always women. Throw in Perrault's sexual symbolism, and you have the virginal "Final Girl" of many horror films.

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