by Lisa Ruping Cheng
Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite stories when I was a kid. I believe the story was told in Chinese when I first learned about it. To my surprise Little Red Riding Hood is part of the Mother Goose Fairytale collected by French author Charles Perrault in 1696. This tells us Little Red Riding-hood is a folklore tale that has been passed on from generation to generation.
The characters of the big bad wolf, the grandmother, the little girl who wears a red riding-hood have been alive in my childhood memories. They were always found in the story books, in the cartoons, in the pop culture, in the movies. The history and popularity of the story makes the characters metaphoric to this day. It is not hard to understand why we have referred to “big bad wolf” as someone who appears to be gentle and smooth in appearance while is in fact dangerous. I often see morals and teachings embedded in folklore tales; Little Red Riding-hood is no exception.
What is a riding hood? It refers to a hooded outdoor cloak worn when riging horses. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “an enveloping hood or hooded cloak worn for riding and as an outdoor wrap by women and children”. Obviously today we do not ride horses for commuting; the imageries of the red coloured riding hood has become symbolic, suggesting the characteristics of innocence, vulnerability, gullibility.
Today I would like to visit the English version of this story from the book of the Tales of Mother Goose by Perrault in 1696 and share it with Wowospot Kids blog readers.
The full texts of the story, based on the new translation by Charles Welsh published in 1901 in the U.S. are as follows:
Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature that ever was seen. Her mother was very fond of her, and her grandmother loved her still more. This good woman made for her a little red riding-hood, which became the girl so well that everyrbody called her Little Red Ridhing-hood.
One day her mother, having made some custards, said to her:
“Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother does, for I hear she has been very ill, carry her a custard and this little pot of butter.”
Little Red Riding-hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother’s who lived in another village.
As she was going through the woods, she met Gaffer Wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up; but he dared not, because of some *fagot-makers passing by in the forest. He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and hear a wolf talk said to him:
“I am going to see my grandmother, and carry her a custard and a little pot of butter from my mamma.”
“Does she live far off?” said the wolf.
“Oh, yes,” answered Little Red Riding-hood; ” it is beyond that mill you see there, the first house you come to in the village.”
“Well,” said the Wolf, “and I’ll go and see her, too. I’ll go this way, and you go that, and we shall see who will be there first.”
The Wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the shortest way, and the little girl went by the longest way, amusing herself by gathering nuts, running after nutterflies, and making **nosegays of such little flowers she met with. The Wolf was not long before he reached the old woman’s house. He knocked at the door – tap, tap, tap.
“Who’s there?” called the grandmother.
“Your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood,” replied the Wolf, imitating her voice, “who has brought a custard and a little pot of butter sent to you by mamma.”
The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out:
“Pull the bobbin and the latch will go up.”
The Wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened. He fell upon the good woman and ate her up in no time, for he had not eaten anything for more than three days. He then shut the door, went into the grandmother’s bed, and waited for Little Red Riding-hood , who came sometime afterward and knocked at the door – tap, tap, tap.
“Who’s there?” called the Wolf.
Little Red Riding-hood, hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but thinking her grandmother had a cold, answered:
“Tis your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood, who has brought you a custard and a little pot of butter sent to you by mamma.”
The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice a little:
“Pull the bobbin and the latch will go up.”
Little Red Riding-hood pulled the bobbin and the door opened.
The Wolf, seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes:
“Put the custard and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come and lie down with me.”
Little Red Riding-hood undressed herself and went into bed, where she was much surprised to see how her grandmother looked in her night clothes.
She said to her:
“Grandmamma, what great arms you have got!”
“That is the better to hug three, my dear.”
“Grandmamma, what great legs you have got!”
“That is to run the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great ears you have got!”
“That is to hear the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!”
“It is to see the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!”
“That is to eat you up.”
And, saying these words, this wicked Wolf fell upon Little Red Riding-hood and ate her all up.
To listen to the story told by Lisa Ruping Cheng, please look for the WowoSpot Kids Podcast episode of the same title, to be released on Thursday, October 14.
*fagotmakers hard by in the forest in the texts do not make sense. It could have been errors in the print. Changed into fagotmakers passing by. By definition, fagot refers to a bundle of sticks used for fuel.
**small flower bouquet
Featured image attribution: