The Disturbing Origins of 10 Famous Fairy Tales

Little Red Riding Hood

If you can believe it, the Brothers Grimm actually made this story a lot nicer than it was when they got their hands on it. In Charles Perrault’s version, included in his 1697 collection Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times: Tales of Mother Goose, there is no intrepid huntsman. Little Red simply strips naked, gets in bed, and then dies, eaten up by the big bad wolf, with no miraculous relief (in another version, she eats her own grandmother first, her flesh cooked up and her blood poured into a wine glass by our wolfish friend). Instead, Perrault gives us a little rhyming verse reminding us that not all wolves are wild beasts — some seduce with gentleness, sneak into our beds, and get us there. The sexual undertones are not lost on us — after all, the contemporary French idiom for a girl having lost her virginity was elle avoit vû le loup — she has seen the wolf.