Little Red Riding Hood, also known as Little Red Cap, is a European fairy tale that is over 2000 years old. The story has gone through numerous adaptations and readings throughout history. The African version most likely evolved from the Middle Eastern iteration, The Wolf and the Kids. That version appears to be older than the European tale. However, one version of the European tale is more popular due to its inclusion in the Brothers Grimm collection 200 years ago. Red kills the wolf in the Grimm version. Charles Perrault published the fairy tale in written form for the first time in 1697. In his version the wolf kills granny, puts her dissected flesh in the pantry, and all her blood in a wine bottle. Then Red is forced to strip naked and climb into bed with the wolf before he kills her. Really charming.
The Disney version of The Little Mermaid involves a lot of singing, good conquering evil, and happy endings. Ariel sings in the deep ocean, dreams about walking on land, wishing for a different life, and mooning after Prince Eric. After some messy business involving Ursula the Sea Witch, Ariel ends up with Prince Eric and lives happily ever after. That is until that horrible sequel. The original tale is quite different. Hans Christian Anderson, a famous Danish author, published the original tale in 1837. In Anderson’s tale the young mermaid gives up her life under the sea in order to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince. The young mermaid gives up her voice in exchange for legs and tries to dance, even though it puts her in excruciating pain. Even though every step feels like walking on blades, she dances in an effort to win the Prince’s affection. However, the Prince turns her down and marries a different woman. While the mermaid has a chance to kill the Prince and regain her fins, she chooses to throw herself into the ocean and dies. Definitely not the Disney version.
Rapunzel is a German fairy tale that was published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 in their book Children’s and Household Tales. The Grimm Brothers’ tale is an adaptation of the tale by Friedrich Schulz published in 1790. Schulz based his tale on the 1698 story Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force. And Charlotte-Rose’s version was probably based on Petrosinella by Giambattista Basile written in 1634. The plot of the fairy tale has been parodies and used in various forms of media and its best known line-Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let your hair down-is now considered a popular culture idiom. Of all these version, The Brothers Grimm tale is the best known one today. In their version Rapunzel is a beautiful long haired maiden who was trapped in a tower by an evil witch. The Prince broke into the tower by climbing up a rope made out of Rapunzel’s hair and gotten her pregnant. The witch banishes Rapunzel from the tower and flings the Prince from the tower. He lands in the bushes, which saves his life but the thorns stab his eyes out. Tangled this is not.
Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper is a folk tale originating in Europe and is about rising above unjust oppression. The earliest recorded version of the tale is Rhodopis, a story about a Greek slave girl who is married off to the King of Egypt and was published in 7BC. And the European version was first published in Naples by Giambattista Basile in 1634. It was later retold by Charles Perrault in 1697. And the Brothers Grimm published the most well-known European version in 1812 in their Grimms’ Fairy Tales collection. In Grimm’s version the slippers are made out of gold, not glass. In order to fit into the slippers, Cinderella’s stepsisters ended up mutilating their feet. One of them cut off her large toe and the other cut off her heel. When the Prince picked them up to carry them off to the palace, a talking bush gives them away because of the blood dripping off the shoes. To add insult to injury, the Prince has the stepsisters’ eyes pecked out by birds as punishment for lying. Cinderella eventually ends up with the Prince. I do not think Disney will turn this into a movie anytime soon.
Snow White is a fairy tale originating in Germany and is one of the most recognizable tales worldwide. The Brothers Grimm published the original tale in 1812 in the first edition of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. However, the Grimm Brothers did not finish their final revision of the story until 1854. All of the Snow White tales circulating through the various cultures of the world feature several recognizable elements. Including: a magic mirror, a poisoned apple, glass coffin, an evil queen/stepmother, and seven dwarves. None of the dwarves were given individual names until the Broadway version of the tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, in 1912. Walt Disney’s 1937 film renamed all the dwarves and these names are the ones that remain popular today. There are no dancing forest animals in the original tale and Snow White is made of more than sugar and spice. In the original tale the evil Queen hires a huntsman to kill Snow White and harvest her liver and lungs. However, this plan is foiled when the Prince pulls a poisoned apple out of Snow White’s throat. Snow White and the Prince force the Queen to wear a pair of burning hot iron shoes on her feet as punishment. She has to dance in them until she dies. Dancing is now an act of murder.