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U-M HISTORY 375 - Unit Assignment #1 - Krupa Patel

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1The arbitrariness of fairy tales suggests that they’re not timeless alternative realities, but rather moral stories in response to the dominant discourses in society. For this reason, the infamous Red Riding Hood is not always a helpless prey of the predator Wolf, who can either be swallowed alive or rescued by the huntsman. The classical versions of the Little Red Riding Hood tale by Perrault and the Grimm Brothers created the victim status of the heroine and perpetuated patriarchal values that encourage women to self-discipline and obey, as well as protect other women against desires such as curiosity, rebellion against norms, and sexuality. These versions of the tale serve as justifications of the patriarchal discourses bounding women. Thus, reading Red Riding Hood to young children as a bedtime story teaches them about patriarchal morality.In Perrault’s version, the story has a gruesome ending with the wolf gobbling up Little Red Riding Hood after a famous dialog: "What great teeth! The better to eat you with1.” Grimm’s twist on the story portrays the wolf eating both the grandmother and Little Red Riding Hood, only to be rescued by a huntsman and his knife. This version ends with Little Red Riding Hood stating, "I will never again wander off into the forest as long as I live, when my mother forbids it2.” While this tale is short, its moral is obvious: children should obey their mothers when they walk through dangerous areas, and to beware of seemingly friendly strangers. Linking Little Red Riding Hood’s beauty and 1 Perrault, “Little Red Riding Hood,” 2.2 Grimm, “Little Red Cap,” 5.2innocence with her grisly experience is a fascinating tactic to share quite a gruesome and violent story with the simple lesson of not talking to strangers. Bruno Bettelheim's analysis of Little Red Riding Hood in his book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (1976) utilizes Freudian symbol searching. He believed that fairy tales like Red Riding Hood equip children with knowledge preparing them psychologically to deal with challenges in their adulthood: "the imagery of fairy tales helps children better than anything else [in] achieving a matureconsciousness3.” In his view, Little Red Riding Hood’s premature "budding sexuality" is creating deep unconscious conflicts between her id (animal nature) and her superego (conscience), threatening what Freud calls the "pleasure principle.” Unconsciously, she wants to be seduced by her father, and the wolf's eating her represents that seduction. According to Bettelheim, the red color of her hood symbolizes her unconscious sexual desires. The gift of the hood by the grandmother represents a transaction of sexual attractiveness from an old sick woman to a youthful healthy girl4. In Grimm's version, Bettelheim compares the hunter to a father figure. Furthermore, when he cuts open the wolf's belly, it symbolizes pregnancy and birth, and the harsh consequence of a father anddaughter’s sexual relationship. In a feminist approach to the tale, Lurie concludes that fairytales should be “one of the few sorts of classic children’s literature of which a radical feminist would approve5”. However, many feminist scholars challenge this belief with the example of 3 Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment, 23.4 Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment, 213-220.5 Lurie, “Fairy Tale Liberation,” 1.3Sleeping Beauty, which presents the opposite perception that women are helplessly dependent on men. For instance, some versions of Little Red Riding Hood include cannibalism in which the wolf makes Little Red eat some of her grandmother and drink her blood. Similarly, Sleeping Beauty also contains cannibalism in a version of the story where a jealous wife to the beauty's lover tries to devour both Sleeping Beauty and her children. In the “Sun, Moon, and Talia,” a king comes upon Talia unconscious and rapes her in her deep slumber6. In this regard, Sleeping Beauty promotes female passivity and submission, while Little Red Riding Hood encourages caution and obedience. In 1972, Lieberman wrote against Lurie’s claim in her article “Some Day My Prince Will Come: Female Acculturation through the Fairy Tale.” In this article, Lieberman thought it was difficult to see how children could be "prepared" for women's liberation by reading fairy tales; instead, her analysis of children’s fairy tales indicated that they serve to acculturate women to traditional social roles7. Lieberman argued that fairy tales transmit gender ideologies limiting women to their expected gender roles, as in the case of the Little Red Riding Hood tale discoursing liberation of women from their oppressed role as the subordinate sex to men. The tale portrays women in the contemporary world being subjected to the different ideologies of what makes a “proper woman.” The popular notion of Red Riding Hood being both a prey and the blamable who causes her own misfortune is an ode to the agenda of cultural memory, which condemns 6 Basile, “Sun, Moon, and Talia,” 2.7 Lieberman, “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” 383.4women’s transgression. The story illustrates for children the danger of strangers—particularly the threat posed by mature males to young females. The remembrance of the tale is fabricated in a way to provide justifications of women’s passivity and men’s shift ofblame on women on their misfortunes. The popularity of the tale as well as why and how the tale changed over time can be explained by how permitted versions helped normalize patriarchal control over women.ReferencesBasile, Giambattista. “Sun, Moon, and Talia.” Sleeping Beauty and other tales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 410. 1893. Trans and Ed. Ashliman, D. L., 2013. Web. <https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0410.html#basile> Web. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Knopf: distributed by Random House, 1976.Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. “Little Red Cap.” 1812. Little Red Riding Hood and other tales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 333. Trans and Ed. Ashliman, D. L., 2013. Web. <http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#grimm> Web. Accessed 19 Sept.2020.Lieberman, Marcia. “Some Day My Prince Will Come: Female Acculturation through theFairy Tale.” College English, 34.3 (1972): 383-395. Print. Perrault, Charles. “Little Red Riding Hood.” Little Red Riding Hood and other tales


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