Fairy Tale Protagonists are the Real Monsters

Classic fairy tales usually involve a plucky young child taking on something dark and dangerous that represents the unknown and coming out on top. Those tales have been told, retold, and ultimately sanitized over the generations. When you go back to the source, however, a disturbing pattern emerges. While the horrors they face are immense, the fairy tale protagonists turn into horrifying monsters themselves when the tale reaches its conclusion and they embark upon the most satisfying part of their journey: revenge.

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Red Riding Hood

The Strange Tale of Little Red Riding Hood

Most people realize that a lot of the classic fairy tales we read today have been altered and sterilized. Many of them come from the Grimm brothers, whose first volume of fairy tales was criticized way back in 1812 for being unsuitable for children thanks to abusive parents, rape, incest, and other nasty stuff.

I recently read the story of Little Red Riding Hood as a bedtime tale for my daughter. Although this fable originated hundreds of years before the Grimm brothers were born, theirs is the version I chose to go with. The selection bothers me not because of the violence involved, but because the people in this story have such needlessly circuitous plans that they make 1960s supervillains seem downright efficient.

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