Saturday, 22 November 2014

Adventure Girls: Red

This series called "Adventure Girls" are about different heroines from fairytales, story books, folklore and legends. They're girls who've been on exciting adventures, and many of them had to survive or overcome their fears. Tough girls, and always seeking quests. Some have been led down scary sinister paths, or taken to other lands outside of their control, but soon regained their courage to get what they want. Many of these girls are pretty famous favourite characters from fairy stories. Others are not so well known but whose stories of adventure and magic have been around for a long time.

Adventure Girl Part 6 = Red
Name - Little Red
Appears in - "Little Red Riding Hood" (traditional fairytale).
Friends - Woodsman/Hunter
Other info - Healer

This story is about a victim, as well as the cunning and dangerous wolf, who lurks in the forest. As all might be very familiar with the story, a little girl walks alone through the forest, on her way to see her sick grandmother. The forest is full of predators, but she carries nothing except a basket of food and wears a bright red hooded cloak. This colour makes her a moving target. However, it must be worth mentioning that we now understand that wolves (and other canids) are not able to see the colour red.

The redness of her cloak is then symbolic and not as some fairytale psychologists think because of human sacrifice to wild animals. Red is a colour of blood, and the redness of the story means that there is going to be a death of the heroine. As in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", the colour red often emerges, especially on the features of princess Snow White who is "killed" after eating a poisoned apple. The colour of the magical shoes worn by a girl named Karen were red, and they wouldn't come off her feet. She was forced to dance and became very distressed, so her feet were chopped off. Despite the fact everyone believes Dorothy wore a pair of red shoes, or ruby slippers, as in the 1939 film adaption, her original shoes were really made of silver.

Death is a motif in many fairytales. The colour red is always associated with death in fiction and fantasy stories. In the gothic tale "Masque of the Red Death,"by Edgar Allan Poe, the idea was based upon death, disease and blood. Poe's wife suffered a horrible illness before he wrote the story.

The colour red is often linked with death and mourning in Africa. It's the colour of blood and fire. Some people have SSS (scotopic sensitivity syndrome) or visual stress, who react badly to certain lights and spectrum colours like red. A red flashing colour will bring on a bad epileptic fit in some people with conditions. Red is the strongest and most painful colour to humans. For wolves, red is almost grey and these animals are spared visual pain and photosensitivity.   

Getting back to the fairytale, Red has often changed. Perrault and Grimm brothers, plus various narrators over history, altered the appearance and storyline to suit their audiences. The Grimm brothers made Red into a sweet little child. They introduced the woodsman, the hero who became hunter and rescued Red and her grandmother. Yet they said she wore a little red cap. Before them, Charles Perrault didn't include the woodsman. Little Red was a young woman dressed in a long hooded red cloak. The wolf behaved like a man, who invited the heroine to get into bed with him. She was killed by the wolf at the end of his story. Both stories had an unfortunate grandmother, a sick old woman devoured by a cruel vicious werewolf. I say werewolf because that creature doesn't have the normal characteristics of a wolf and many stories used animals to emphasise human traits. 

The story is much older and can be traced back to a lot of fragments in the Dark Ages, from "La Finta Nonna" in France about a young woman in red that is tricked by a man-wolf, who kills her grandmother and disguises himself as her. Red has been unknowingly eating the remains and drinking blood of her dead grandmother, while the man-wolf (in costume) plays pretend. Some of the earliest versions of the story are horrible and Angela Carter's own take on Red Riding Hood in her story "A Company of Wolves" is so similar to how it was centuries ago. And the story "Lon Po Po" is a Chinese version about a ferocious wolf dressed up as a sick elderly woman who wants to trick a girl into eating her. There is another Far Eastern version with a tiger instead of a wolf.

Who is Red? Is she just an innocent? Or was there more to her? The girl sets out to cure her ill grandmother, and along the way she picks some flowers. The robe/cloak/attire is red, maybe to symbolise blood and death, or even fire, but the story doesn't include the element of fire. Sun priestesses like those at the Oracle of Delphi wore long red hooded robes. Was Little Red a budding priestess or good witch? It's open to interpretation.

By She Wolf Night

Actresses who played Little Red:
Amanda Seifried
Meghan Ory
Anne Hathaway
Danielle Ferland
Molly Ephraim
Suzie Toase
Sarah Stiles
Sarah Patterson
Christina Ricci

Links related to the post:
Dog vision
Brother's Grimm "Little Red Riding Hood"
Charles Perrault "Little Red Riding Hood"

"Red Riding Hood" picture by


  1. Very interesting. Where did you obtain the picture from? The image itself also provides an alternative explanation. The clue is in the image.

    1. Thanks, I did an art search for Red Riding Hood and liked this one better.