Little Red Riding from Lighter to Darker Hood

We all have our own memories, or understanding, or concept of the Little Red Riding Hood story. Most of us would have come across a version or few, or heard, read or seen something similar. 


Before some light hearted versions by Claude, let's bypass Google results and pretend we're 100% happy with it's research into this matter:

Is there such a thing as the very first original Little red riding hood? What is it like?

There is no definitive "first" or "original" version of Little Red Riding Hood. The earliest known written version is by French author Charles Perrault in 1697, but the story almost certainly existed in oral folklore long before that.
Fairy tales and folk stories like Little Red Riding Hood evolved gradually over time and across cultures, with no single origin point. However, here are some key characteristics of very early oral versions that inspired later written accounts:
  1. The protagonist was simply known as "a young girl" or "little girl", not specifically named Red Riding Hood.
  2. The girl wears a red cap or hood that is notable, but not necessarily her most identifying trait.
  3. The wolf is portrayed as a dangerous wild animal, not always as anthropomorphized as in later versions.
  4. The wolf consumes the grandmother first by some accounts, her death not always shown.
  5. The story is focused on a simple warning about dangers of the woods/wilderness and trusting strangers.
  6. The girl is portrayed as naïve and defenceless against the wolf, not necessarily blameless.
  7. The ending varies - she may be rescued, outwit the wolf, or perish.
So while we don't have an exact "first" Little Red Riding Hood story, the earliest oral versions likely contained a mix of folk motifs about dangerous forests, wild animals, stranger danger, and disobedient youth. The red hood and wolf were familiar symbols that resonated and got passed along. Charles Perrault later captured an early oral tale in writing, adding defining features like the dialogue and moral message, starting centuries of further evolution.
Let's return to Charles Perrault a bit later - Claude was able to let go a bit and get into a bit more detail about the Little Red Riding Hood than expected. But first let's have some childish fun with Claude's fictional skills. How about we make this the story of a boy and his soft toy? I've picked the names of the characters at random.

Little Red Riding Hoodie

One morning, Joey's mom made him put on a goofy red cape and bring some sandwiches to Grandma's cottage.

"This hood makes me look dumb!" Joey complained.

"Stop whining and just deliver this," said Mom.

In the woods, Joey's stuffed dinosaur, Rex, jumped out roaring, "Hand over those snacks, Red Riding Dork!"

"In your dreams, Godzilla-breath!" laughed Joey, bonking Rex with the basket.

At Grandma's, Joey found the door unlocked. Inside, Rex wore Grandma's sweater and bonnet.

"Really, Rex?" said Joey. "You look ridiculous!"

"The better to eat you with!" Rex said in a squeaky voice.

Just then, Grandma walked in and shrieked. "Joey! What is Rex doing in my clothes?"

Joey gulped. Busted!

"And my bonnet is covered in cookie crumbs!" said Grandma, holding up the empty cookie jar.

"Hey, at least Rex didn't swallow you whole like in the story." Joey said with an innocent smile.

Grandma just shook her head and laughed. "Oh Joey, what am I going to do with you?"

Joey grinned as they cleaned up the mess. Rex had almost pulled off Operation Red Riding Hood! Almost.

Something different

That was nice and short. Harmless fun, that could become Claude's nickname. Let's have another one.

The Timmy Show

One sunny morning, Bossy Bets demanded Timmy take a basket of buns over to dear old Granny who was feeling poorly.

"Why me?" Timmy grumbled. "Make Joey do it!"

Bets tied a red cloak around Timmy's neck. "Stop moaning! Off you pop!"

So Timmy and his pup Happy ambled down the lane. Soon Joey leapt out from a hedge.

"I'm the big bad wolf!" cried Joey. "I'll gobble you right up!"

"Oh pish posh," said Timmy. "Stop messing about!"

Happy yapped and paraded around ferociously.

"Not you too, Happy!" sighed Timmy.

At Granny's cottage, Timmy found Bets already there, bundled under blankets in Granny's bed.

"Bets, what are you playing at?" asked Timmy. "Where's Granny?"

"I'm Granny now!" said Bets. "I swallowed her up! Now I'll swallow you too!"

"You're batty, Bets," said Timmy.

Just then, real Granny appeared with a tray of buns. "Save some for me, chickadees!"

Timmy gave Granny the basket. "We'd best skedaddle before Josie makes a mess back home!"

As they left, Timmy said, "I don't mind visiting Granny, but this Red Riding Hood lark is too much fuss."

Happy licked Timmy's cheek and off they trotted down the lane once more.

Moving on

That's nice. Nice, nice, nice. Completely harmless little stories, like kids who know the story would like to act it out in real life, which is nice. Not surprised, not particularly impressed either.

Let's change scenery next.

The wolves of New York

One morning, Betty got all dolled up in her favourite little red dress and heels. She was bringing a basket of baked goods across town to her dear old Granny who wasn't feeling so hot.

"Now don't you talk to any strange fellas on your way there," Betty's poppa warned. "Or you'll get into a heap o' trouble!"

"Oh poppa, you worry too much!" Betty said with a wink. She headed out into the bustling streets, singing a lively tune.

Before long, Betty bumped into a shifty-looking guy in a zoot suit. "Say doll face, where you off to lookin' so fine?" he asked slyly.

"I ain't got time for chit chat, pal," Betty replied. "I gotta bring these goodies to my Granny pronto."

As Betty walked off, the creep got a wicked idea. He raced over to Granny's apartment and picked the lock. Granny yelled "What's the big idea?!" but the man stuffed her in the closet before she could cause a scene.

Just then, Betty knocked on the door. "Special delivery for Granny!" she sang.

The creep did his best Granny impression. "Come in dearie!"

Betty sauntered in and noticed the guy looking peculiar. "Say, what big eyes you got! And what big hands!"

He grinned wickedly. "All the better to grab ya with!"

Just then Betty pulled out her trusty umbrella and whacked him over the head - POW!

"Ooh, what a creepazoid!" she said, freeing Granny from the closet. Suddenly the cops showed up and hauled the crook away.

Betty and Granny enjoyed the tasty treats together. Betty said, "I learned my lesson - never talk to strangers in this town!" Granny just laughed and laughed.

Comic Relief

Okay, let's put one final twist on this old tale. I should have asked Claude to name these stories, not sure what to call this one.


One day at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, George and Harold were reading fairy tales in Ms. Ribble's class.

"These stories are so boring," George complained. "The big bad wolf just gobbles everyone up."

"Yeah, we need to make this more exciting!" Harold said. The two pranksters got an idea and grinned mischievously.

When it was Melvin's turn to read Little Red Riding Hood, George and Harold used their 3D Hypno-Ring to zap him into the story! Suddenly, Melvin was wearing a red cloak and skipping through the forest.

Up ahead, Mr. Krupp popped out from behind a tree wearing a furry wolf costume. "I am the Preposterous Wolf and I'm going to eat you up!" he growled.

"Eat me?!" Melvin cried. "But I have to bring these goodies to my sweet old Granny Krupp!"

Mr. Krupp had tied up Granny Krupp and was pretending to be her in bed. "Come closer, dearie!" he said in falsetto.

But Melvin saw Mr. Krupp's big furry butt sticking out and screamed. He grabbed his math textbook and whacked the wolf on the head, knocking him out cold.

Just then, George and Harold appeared! They used magical fart spray to wake up Granny Krupp and free her.

"Hoorary!" cheered Melvin. "You saved me from that wolf's stinky butt!"

From then on, the boys brought Melvin on all their fairy tale adventures. Little Red Melvin Hood was a legend at Jerome Horwitz Elementary.

A step back

Let's go back a bit and see what our trustworthy guide has to offer.
What are the most unusual things about Little Red Riding Hood that most people have not heard about?
Here are some of the more unusual or lesser known aspects of the Little Red Riding Hood story:

  • In early versions, the girl is not named specifically as Little Red Riding Hood. She's simply referred to as "a young girl" or "little girl." The red cloak was added later.
  • The wolf was sometimes depicted as a werewolf rather than a regular wolf. There was a blurring of folklore surrounding wolves and werewolves in early tellings.
  • In Charles Perrault's 1697 telling, Little Red Riding Hood strips naked and gets in bed with the wolf before being eaten. This was seen as a cautionary tale about young girls' naivety and sexuality.
  • In some early versions, Little Red Riding Hood escapes by her own wit - she tricks the wolf into letting her go outside to relieve herself then runs away.
  • The wolf is not always the villain or eaten at the end. In other versions he's simply shooed away once the huntsman finds the girl is still alive.
  • The wolf consumes the grandmother first by some accounts. In other versions, he locks her in a closet instead of eating her right away.
  • The story has apparent roots linking back to the ancient mythologies of Fenrir or Cronus - wolf or god figures that swallow people whole.
  • Little Red Riding Hood has a brother in some versions. He is sometimes the one who suggests she take food to the grandmother.
So while modern tellings have standardized details, the original story has quite a bit of nuance and variation lost over generations of oral and written retellings. The constant evolution of folk tales and myths over centuries is fascinating.
So I noticed there's this writer Charles Perrault getting a mention and his 'version' is apparently one of the earlier ones around. While the werewolf also deserves a closer look, I'd like to find out more about the earliest available version. 
Can you summarise in more detail Charles Perrault's 1697 telling

The story opens with an explanatory moral stating that young women, especially attractive ones, can be prone to vanity and deception.
A young village girl is given a red cap by her grandmother (simply called "Mamma") who loves her very much. Her mother tells her to bring some baked goods to her ill grandmother who lives in the woods.
Along the path, the girl encounters a wolf who asks where she is going. Naively, she tells him, not knowing of the danger.
The wolf takes a shortcut to the grandmother's house and gains entry by pretending to be the girl. He then devours the old woman whole.
The wolf puts on the grandmother's nightcap and gets in her bed. When the girl arrives, she notices he looks very strange in her cap.
The wolf persuades the girl to get in bed and strip naked by telling her to keep the sheets from getting dirty. She obliges due to his convincing manner.
Once she's in bed, the wolf devours the girl since he now has them both. Perrault makes clear only her clothes are left behind.
In the moral, Perrault states that young lasses with "immature" minds are susceptible to wolves who pretend to be gentle and kind when their intentions are quite the opposite.
So the early French version contains overt sexual undertones and serves as a morality tale warning young women about potentially predatory men or the dangers of desire. The girl's naivety and willingness to disrobe make her culpable in her demise.
That's pretty dark and probably has a much clearer teaching than some of the later versions. I much prefer this to the version where the woodcutter chops the wolf open and out jump Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother.
Not sure Claude is up to the task of rewriting this style of story? We better find out:
Can you rewrite the Betty version and base it on the Charles Perrault version
And the answer is no - Claude didn't really want to. But we asked again:
Please rewrite the version but follow much more closely the Charles Perrault's 1697 telling
Claude tried to keep it short but finally managed to come up with the following:

Only her clothes are left behind

One sunny morning, Betty prepared to visit her ailing grandmother on the other side of town.

“Sweet pea, bring these treats to Granny pronto,” said her father, handing Betty a basket of jams, sweets, and wine. “And do not dally along the way!”

“Of course, Pop!” replied Betty cheerfully. She donned her red hooded cape and set off into the bustling city.

As Betty skipped down the busy sidewalk, singing a happy tune, she drew the attention of a passing gentleman.

“Where to, little lady?” asked the man, eyeing her up and down.

“To my grandmother’s house, kind sir,” answered Betty naively.

“Mind that you hurry," said the man. "Dangerous sorts roam these streets." Betty thanked him and continued on.

Her route took her through Central Park, where crimson and amber leaves danced in the autumn breeze. The paths were strangely quiet and deserted. As Betty hummed to herself, a dark figure emerged from the bushes ahead.

It was an enormous grey wolf dressed in fine clothes like a man. “Pardon me, dear girl,” said the wolf in a gravelly tone, “Allow me to accompany you through this park to your grandmother’s home. The city harbors many evils.”

Not wanting to seem rude, Betty permitted the wolf to walk with her, though she felt uneasy in his presence.

The cunning wolf then raced ahead once they exited the park, arriving at Granny’s apartment before Betty. He burst inside and violently slaughtered the old woman, devouring her remains in an instant.

When Betty arrived just minutes later, she was met at the door by the wolf posing as her grandmother. “Who is it?” he called out in Granny's shaky voice.

“Only me,” replied Betty.

“Enter, my child,” said the wolf from the bedroom.

Betty went inside and was struck by the sight of the enormous wolf tucked into Granny's bed. She was hesitant to approach.

"Come closer, girl," insisted the wolf. "Climb into bed beside me."

Though unsettled, Betty dared not refuse. She remembered her father's warning to always obey her elders. She climbed onto the bed, averting her eyes from the wolf's penetrating gaze.

"Grandmother, what strong arms you have," said Betty nervously.

"The better to hold you close, my dear," said the wolf, running his clawed hand along her cheek.

Betty shuddered and pulled away. "Grandmother, what sharp claws you have!"

"The better to caress your soft skin, my beauty," he replied.

"But Grandmother, what enormous teeth you have!" cried Betty.

"The better to consume you with!" roared the wolf, throwing off the covers and pinning Betty down. She shrieked and flailed in terror.

The wolf snarled above his helpless prey. "Your granny was but an appetizer. Now I shall feast on your succulent flesh!"

Betty wailed and pleaded for her life as hot saliva dripped upon her face. "I beg you, spare me this fate! I will do anything you ask of me!"

The wolf appeared to consider her offer. "Very well, I shall permit you to leave unharmed...if you fully surrender yourself as payment."

Terrified but trusting his word, Betty submitted to the wolf's craven demands. She removed her red cloak and dress until she stood naked before the fiend, vulnerable and ashamed.

"My, what a succulent creature you are," said the wolf, eying her greedily, his deception complete. "It is a pity I have no use for your beauty once I have tasted your flesh!"

Betty closed her eyes and wept as the wolf's hot breath washed over her now exposed flesh. With his deception complete and the girl's innocence his, the beast wasted no time sinking his fangs deep into her supple neck, ending her young life with one violent bite of his jaws.

Only her crimson hood remained as evidence of the wolf's despicable misdeeds. Thus ends the woeful tale of Betty, an obedient child lost forever to the wickedness of the wolf. Let all young ladies beware roaming this city alone, lest they end up in the jaws of the beast.

Where's the wolf?

Right. Let us not trust a wolf. Obviously there's also the werewolf - I had not thought about that, but it does not make it any less obvious. So what's that all about anyway?
There are a handful of Little Red Riding Hood adaptations and retellings that feature a werewolf rather than a regular wolf. Here's an overview of the werewolf subgenre:
Usually darker, scarier tone than the original fairy tale
Focus on horror elements and gore when the werewolf transformations/attacks happen
Portray the werewolf as a more primal, ferocious beast than a normal wolf
Emphasize the animalistic nature of the werewolf with descriptions of fangs, fur, claws, etc.
Use the werewolf lore to add supernatural elements of curses, full moons, etc.
Famous Versions:
The Company of Wolves (1984 film): A gothic adaptation set in medieval times. A young girl encounters a werewolf on her way to her grandmother's. Very dark and sensual.
Wolf (1994 film): Dramatic modern version starring Jack Nicholson. He plays a werewolf who seduces then transforms into a beast.
Little Red Riding Hood (2011 film): Amanda Seyfried battles a werewolf curse that plagues her village. Filled with action and creature effects.
"The Werewolf" by Angela Carter (1979 short story): A darkly erotic version with strong connotations between Red Riding Hood and the wolf.
"Little Red Riding Hoodlum" by Roald Dahl (1982 poem): A humorous take in which Little Red pulls a pistol and shoots the wolf herself.
Various YA books like Red by Bethany Griffin and Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.
So while not as ubiquitous as the original, there are definitely enough werewolf-themed versions out there to constitute a distinct subgenre with its own style and flavor. The werewolf lore lends itself well to creating an edgier, scarier take on the classic fairy tale.
Well I think we should have a werewolf as well, don't you think?


Little Red Riding Hood pulled her crimson cloak tighter as she walked the forest path to her grandmother's cottage. The autumn wind rustled the barren tree branches, their claw-like fingertips scraping the full moon. Red's lantern cast dancing shadows across the gnarled faces carved into the ancient trunks - remnants of old magic and primal spirits.

Her mother had warned her to stay on the path, but Red was fearless. The forest held no danger for her that she could not confront with pistol or knife. Still, she kept her hand upon her basket where the rifle lay loaded beneath the wines and sweets for grandmother.

In the village it was whispered that on the full moon, men were cursed to roam the woods as ravenous wolves. But Red had no fear of beasts tonight. A strange energy thrummed in her blood beneath the moon’s hypnotic glow.

As the trail curved, Red heard a snap of twigs behind her. She grasped her concealed pistol and turned swiftly, her lantern's glare illuminating two shining eyes between the shadowed branches.

"Show yourself, beast," demanded Red. "Step forward so I may see your face before I take your life."

A grey wolf slowly emerged from the thicket, hackles raised and teeth bared. It was larger than any ordinary wolf, and stood upon its hind legs like a man. Red leveled her pistol at its heart, but stayed her finger. The wolf’s earthy, primal scent intrigued her.

"Pardon me, miss," said the wolf in a low snarl. "I mean you no harm on this night. I wish only to guide you safely through the woods, lest other creatures stalk your path."

Red knew she should fear this wolf, yet its glowing amber eyes reflected the moonlight seductively. Its dark fur rippled over powerful muscles. She found herself lowering the pistol.

"Very well, beast. You may accompany me," said Red coolly. The wolf's lips pulled back further, revealing fangs. It fell upon four feet and padded silently beside her along the winding trail.

As they walked on beneath the pregnant moon, Red sensed a growing, unfamiliar energy between herself and the wolf. With each glance at its graceful predator's form, each whiff of its musky pelt, a strange exhilaration built within Red's core. Was this terror she felt, or something far more primal?

When at last the forest thinned and grandmother's cottage came into view, the wolf led Red off the path toward a darker, more perilous route. She followed without protest, entranced by her lupine companion.

The wolf halted before the door and spoke: "Your grandmother awaits inside, my pet. Step forth and fulfill your purpose."

As Red reached for the handle, the wolf suddenly seized her wrist, splintering the bone in its crushing jaws. Her pistol and basket tumbled into the dirt as hot saliva dripped upon her face.

"Why do you accost me, beast?" Red shouted through the pain, struggling to break free. "You swore to protect me on my journey, and I showed you only trust!"

The wolf dragged her pinned body against the cottage wall, claws piercing her cloak and dress. "Foolish girl," it growled in her ear. "The full moon reveals my true nature. I am compelled by forces far beyond your comprehension to feast upon your supple flesh and sate my ravenous hunger."

Red screamed and thrashed within the cage of its muscled limbs, but succeeded only in tearing her clothes to shreds. The wolf threw back its head and unleashed an otherworldly howl before wrenching open the cottage door.

Inside, Red saw her grandmother's bed soaked with fresh blood, the savaged remains barely recognizable as human. The wolf flung Red upon the mattress and hovered over her, fangs poised at her throat.

Certain this was her end, Red went limp, surrendering to the beast's primal urges. But instead of piercing flesh, she felt its searing tongue trail across her naked skin, eliciting shudders beyond her control.

"Do not fear, my pet," purred the wolf. "You shall not leave this world tonight. Instead, you will transcend it."

Red whimpered as its claws traced her vulnerable form. When it had rendered her fully bare, the wolf pressed Red into the bloodied sheets where earlier her grandmother had met a gruesome fate.

Every instinct told Red to fight, yet she found herself yielding completely to the wolf's savagery. As they moved together in lupine frenzy, Red felt her psyche fracture and transform.

When dawn's light cut through the shattered cottage windows, it fell upon Red lying tangled in the wolf's embrace. Her companion had resumed a man's form, though his fur still prickled beneath her fingertips and his fangs flashed when he pulled her closer. Fresh bite marks marred Red's pale shoulders.

As she gathered the bloodstained remnants of her red cloak, a sublime calm possessed Red. The vestiges of humanity had abandoned her. She now belonged only to the moon and the wolf.

Red walked back through the silent forest without sorrow or fear. Soon her mother would awake to find a monster wearing her daughter's face. But the claws and teeth of the wolf had awakened something primal in Red that could not be undone.

She would roam these woods forever beneath the full moon’s glow, blood staining her lips to match her crimson hood. The wolf had awakened her truest self - a vessel for the savage impulses that dwelled in the shadows.

Red's last shreds of human frailty burned away as swiftly as morning mist. She was wolfish now. And tonight, once again, she would come alive beneath the cold caress of the moon.

End with a light note

We had several posts with Hansel and Gretel, but ended up getting quite enough material of the Little Red Riding Hood in this post - and a long one it is. So probably next we need to move on to something completely different again. As the stories kept getting a bit darker towards the end, here's one to hopefully not give you nightmares.

Sound Advice

One sunny morning, Little Red Riding Hood skipped merrily through the forest, belting out hilariously off-key tunes as loudly as she could. She was on her way to bring some yummy snacks to her dear old grandma’s cottage.

Red was known for two things: wearing an utterly massive red cape with an equally massive hood, and having absolutely no indoor voice whatsoever.


The birds flew out of the trees in terror and one squirrel covered its ears and cried, “Have mercy, child!” But Red skipped along, caterwauling away, oblivious to all the chaos she created.

Suddenly, a Big Bad Wolf leapt out from behind a tree!

“Well, hello little girl,” said the wolf, licking his lips. “My, what a tasty-looking basket you have there!”

The wolf eyed the basket hungrily. But then Little Red Riding Hood began belting out another earsplitting tune.


“Aaahh, stop that horrible singing!” howled the wolf, covering his sensitive ears. “I’ll do anything if you just stop!”

Little Red Riding Hood considered this. “Hmm, okay Mr. Wolf! See you later!” And she pranced off, sparing the wolf her terrifying singing.

A bit later, the wolf arrived at Grandma’s cottage disguised in her nightgown and cap. “Snack time!” said Red as she burst through the door.

“What big ears you have, Grandma!” said Red.

“The better to hear your...lovely singing?” replied the wolf weakly.

“OH GRANDMA, CAN’T WAIT TO SING FOR YOU!” shouted Little Red Riding Hood.

The wolf whimpered in horror. “On second thought, I’d rather be shot!” he cried, jumping out the window.

So Little Red Riding Hood brought the snacks to her real Grandma and they had a lovely picnic—once Grandma soundproofed the whole cottage so the birds and squirrels could live in peace.