Thursday, December 25, 2014

Darker Human Nature: Red Riding Hood

Have you ever wondered if iconic characters of books and television had a hidden side to them? What if Princess Aurora was a rebel? If she were depicted in modern times, would she be that bad girl who always went against her parent (or legal guardians, in Aurora's case)? What if Daisy Duck had a secret online shopping addiction? Was Ursula once a mermaid? Bits of a person's character that have only been touched on or never explored. In short, the darker human nature. My friend Mark Venturini loves to explore the darker side of human nature with his characters. For more on that, see my last post where we had a very interesting discussion about The Hobbit. But Mark inspired me to take a look at a few characters and explore their darker side -or hidden side, depending on which character we're looking at.
(Little Red Riding Hood by Isabel Oakley Naftel, 1862)

(Meghan Ory as Ruby/Red in ABC's Once Upon a Time )

(Little Red Riding Hood by Evanira )

I want to start with someone a lot of people are fairly familiar with: Little Red Riding Hood. In the tale by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, Red is depicted as a young girl, quite innocent, venturing into the mysterious forest to do a good deed: bring goodies for sick, old Granny. She ends up being swallowed whole by the wolf, but then saved by the Huntsman before she can be digested.... Charming. (The version by Charles Perrault, which came before Grimm's, is similar, except the Huntsman slays the wolf before he can eat the grandmother and Little Red.) In another version, while the wolf is threatening Red and her grandmother, Red pulls a gun from somewhere and handles the villain Old Western style. ABC's Once Upon a Time (which I'm terribly behind in) depicts Red as... wait, too much of a spoiler. But in Scarlet, a book by Melissa Meyer, the main character who is a depiction of Red Riding Hood is a streetwise farmer who is trying to find her missing grandmere. So you have lots of different perspectives on this one character, although a few details stay the same, like the red theme, the wolf, and the grandmother.
It's interesting that in each of the tales, Red has to go on some kind of journey. It's also interesting how from the Grimm's version to now, there is a perceptible decrease in Red as being purely innocent. It's as if the tale by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm were the very start of Red's adventures, when she was a child, and as the story has evolved, the character has grown up and matured, becoming bolder and less predictable.
I like to think characters learn from their mistakes, even if they are make-believe. What did Red learn from all her experiences? Is the wolf merely metaphorical? Is the grandmother supposed to be the goal we are always trying to achieve, and the wolf the obstacles we must overcome? And what of Red's nature as a person? How did she change? Did she become more pessimistic or worrisome? Did the experiences make her braver? Did she crave danger? I think she would have made a good cop or PI. I don't know why, but for some reason those two just stick out to me.
Hopefully in a couple of days I'll have another character for you. Which would you prefer: heroes, villains, or secondary characters? Let me know in the comments. :-)


1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your musings. I would like to hear what you say about heroes.