« In my house, when I was a little boy, it was my grandfather who told me stories. He was wonderful. He told violent, mysterious tales that enchanted me. There were just two or three, always the same, but my favourite one was Little Red Riding Hood. I knew it by heart, but I never stopped asking Grandfather to tell it. I identified with Little Red Riding Hood, I had the same fears as she, I didn’t want to die. I dreaded her death — or what we think death is. I waited anxiously for the hunter to come. » (Luciano PAVAROTTI, Introduction to Little Red Riding Hood)
Of all the traditional fairy tales, Little Red Riding Hood (LRR) is indisputably the one that has existed for the longest period of time and which has spawned the greatest number of likenesses in the field of children’s literature. Written down in French already three centuries ago , the story of Red Riding Hood has crossed both time and space until in our days it has left in its track several variations, revivals, and re-inventions. There are innumerable examples of authors and artists from all over the world and during many different generations who — with the aid of their pencils, pens, or paintbrushes — have had the pleasure of illustrating one of the versions dedicated to the fairy tale, or who have modernised, altered, lengthened, or reconstructed the adventure of the famous little girl. [p. 8]
Still today the character of LRR remains a key figure in the imagination of children as well as for adults. To use the expression of Claude de la Genardière, even in this new millennium LRR « is evident everywhere ». Her picture continues to regularly haunt the albums intended for children ; also she is regularly used for other ends by publicity agents who exploit and develop this ‘legendary’ figure as they choose.
Yesterday as today, the character of the little girl with a hood is the focus of our interest and, as the title of the fairy tale already indicates, she is the central figure in this story — a story that we would be mistaken to reduce to simply a kind of peek-a-boo game of seduction in which the curious couple of the LRR and the wolf are involved.
Bruno Bettelheim emphasises the central place of the man in this story ; he considers the maternal characters unimportant . I would like to propose the contrary reading of the fairy-tale by looking rather at the fate of the three female figures, representing the three generations of women which have been put centre stage in this story. The main character LRR doesn’t really exist by herself (both on a physical level and on a figurative level) ; she is intimately connected with the two other women present in the story : the mother and the grandmother. Rather than it being the story of a little girl who is travelling the road of autonomy and who leaves to discover the adult world — of men ? —, the story of Little Red Riding Hood, as I see it, is the story of three women, or better put three stories (three fates) about women who are reference points in the story : They are three women who are at turning points in their lives, three women at a cross-roads.
My objective in this paper is to investigate the stories of each of these three women and of the relationships between them. In order to do so, I will use these three types of research documents :
The Glutton (Red Riding Hood)
The wolf or other monster devours human beings until they are all rescued alive from his belly.
1. Wolf’s feast. (a) By disguising himself as the mother or the grandmother, the wolf deceives and devours (b) a little girl (Red Riding Hood) whom he meets on the way to her grandmother’s house.
11. Rescue. (a) The wolf is cut open and his victims are rescued alive ; (b) his belly is sewn full of stones and he drowns ; (c) he jumps to his death.
The two parts of this structure correspond to the two contradictory versions of the story, one attributed to Perrault and the other to the Grimm Brothers. In Perrault’s version the story involves only the first part of the structure. It finishes badly for the grandmother as well as for Red Riding Hood, since both of them are eaten up by a triumphant wolf. In Grimm’s version, on the other hand, the story does not stop there. It continues and finishes well for the two female characters concerned : the heroine and her grandmother are removed from the belly of the wolf by a hunter. The transgressing wolf is punished and put to death.
Depending on whether they are drawn to Perrault’s tragic version or the positive version of Grimm, critics interpret the story to be either a warning or a tale of initiation. [p. 10]
Surprisingly, Grimm’s version of LRR has a double ending. The ending that is most often retained and is the best known involves the arrival of the hunter who functions as the little girl’s saviour. This ending closes a story in which Red Riding Hood doesn’t seem to play a very active role in relation to the events she is submitted to. However, it leads to a condensed re-telling of the story, as if the tale repeated itself another time : « It is said that on another occasion when LRR again brought a cake to her old grandmother, another wolf tried to distract her attention and make her stray from her path » . Being tempted a second time, LRR shows that she has learned her lesson well. She is neither distracted nor slowed-up by this other wolf, and she arrives at her grandmother’s house in time to warn of the imminent arrival of the animal. This time it is the grandmother who plays the most important role in the story by resolving the problem of the wolf. She revenges both herself and her grandchild by effecting a strategy that fools and successfully eliminates him. This strategy requires LRR’s help ; manifesting enthusiastic co-operation she fills the stone pot in which the wolf will eventually drown with the water that her grandmother had used to boil sausages.
The popular oral versions of the LRR tale present a scenario that encompasses the initiational aim of the story and gives it even more coherence. This scenario gives rise to a third point of view and invites a re-consideration of the relationship between the three women who span three generations, in particular the relationship between LRR and her mother. Switching the focus from one woman to the other there is an exchange of confidence, even of roles. Here then the female characters are truly at a cross-roads, at a moment in their lives where everything is in precarious balance.
By having the disappearance of the grandmother coincide with Little Red Riding Hood’s entry into the state of sexual maturity, the popular versions offer a scenario which is based on the natural order of things. The old generation can disappear at the moment when the new generation becomes, in its turn, capable of continuing the cycle of life. In eating the remains of her grandmother and drinking her blood, LRR incorporates the force of her ancestor and in particular the force that allows her to have children. Rich in this new knowledge, LRR is also apparently rich with her new knowledge. In confrontation with the wolf, it is she who leads the game, who excites his appetite with a dazzling striptease before leaving him rooted to the spot and herself escaping under the pretext of a pressing need.
It is now apparent that the scenario established in certain popular versions turns the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood into a story meant to elaborate the theme of genuine women’s business. This intra-feminine relationship is also treated, in their own ways, by Grimm and Perrault. It is from this perspective that I now propose an examination of the images of these women and of their relationships ass they have been portrayed through time by different illustrators of the Perrault and the Grimm versions of this fairy tale.
In the 1697 edition, the original water-colours were replaced by etchings signed Clouzier. Even though Clouzier apparently copied the illustrations of the manuscript, the etching of the bed scene is less precise and less rich in details (illustration n° 1). With this etching, here is uncertainty over who exactly is the female figure in the bed. Certain persons immediately recognise the heroine of the tale, others see the grandmother.
During the eighteenth century, the fairy tale was embellished with a second illustration which showed the scene of the initial encounter between LRR and the wolf, deep in the forest. As time goes by, other key scenes are illustrated. As far as the present paper is concerned, while keeping our attention on the texts of Perrault and Grimm, we will now look at some of the ways illustrators chose to portray the following four scenes :
Interchanging the beginning of Perrault’s tale with Grimm’s in the French translation of Armel Guerne, the story that interests us begins in a most curious way. We are shown « a little village girl, the prettiest that was ever seen »  on whom the mother dotes. The grandmother who is just as fond of the child, if not even fonder, searching for a way to demonstrate her affection offers her the gift of a little red riding cap. « The child found it so pretty and that it fit it her so well. She wanted to wear nothing else on her head but the riding hood, and so she was called Little Red Riding Hood... » 
The story opens, then, on this portrait of the three different generations of women. Let us linger a moment over the first image provided for each of these women, beginning with the oldest and progressing on to the youngest.
In the Perrault and Grimm texts, the grandmother is important from the very beginning of the story. It is she who has offered the gift of the hood that characterises, even names, the little girl. Her falling ill provokes the action of Red Riding Hood coming to her immediate aid.
Most illustrators opt for a first passive image of the grandmother, showing her lying on her bed waiting for the visit. There are others, Hélène Prince or Beni Montresor for example , who begin by showing the grandmother at the height of her vitality, busy with the little girl and concentrated on sewing the famous riding hood. [p. 15]
This first « scene of a couple » which shows Little Red Riding Hood in the hands of the grandmother is succeeded by a second « scene of a couple, » unavoidable this time, that places the mother and her daughter around a table (in the cases of the illustrators Jack Kent, Tony Ross, S. Heilporn ), preparing the basket with provisions intended for the grandmother (illustration n° 2). It is impossible to not notice that the mother is suggesting that her daughter assumes, in part, the role of the provider, asking the child to be her substitute in bringing victuals to the older person.
Whether she appears for the first time « in the hands of the grandmother » (as in Tony Ross’s illustration) or beside her mother in the family home, little Red Riding Hood accepts without resistance the dress and the role that have been given to her. Furthermore, caught between a mother and a grandmother who adore her, the little girl — in Grimm’s version — returns the affection bestowed on her by refusing to wear anything other than the cap she was given by her grandmother.
The story continues by informing us that the road which connects (or separates ?) the mother from the grandmother is the one that little Red Riding Hood chooses to « take at her own pace » and to thereby disobey her mother who had made it clear, in Grimm’s version, that it was wise to go about her task without wasting time.
In numerous illustrations, during this encounter here again everything is a question of proportion and power relations. The relative physical strength of the child and the wolf must be sized up in order to ascertain which of the two will dominate. At this moment in the story, the wolf is evidently superior to the little girl. Since he is at this time preparing to trick her, he is placed in a position of superiority (illustration n° 5). The wolf is drawn in certain cases from his backside and in others frontally, either standing on all four legs or reared and balanced on his hind legs. This last position gives him a humanoid look which the illustrator Beni Montresor pushes to an extreme by dressing the wolf in a well-tailored suit, holding his cane by its knob and wearing a hat on his head. Once he has disguised himself as a man, his next metamorphosis will be into a woman — the grandmother.
The balance has changed between these two protagonists. The girl has taken off her hood and now it is the wolf who « wears a hat » (illustration n° 6) .
With one of the characters in a bed hidden by sheets, we see little difference of size and physical appearance between these two characters...this would appear to underscore the coming drama. Some illustrators establish an equilibrium between the two characters. All the same the bed is an incontestable scene of confusion because LRR finds herself unable to see what is staring her in the face, that it is not her grandmother she is standing beside, nor is she partaking in an interaction that implies fusion and union between the generations.
It would be impossible to stop the story at this point. Such an incredible and unnerving scene is by its nature in dis-equillibrium. The wolf doesn’t take long to reveal who he is ; sooner or later he will display his paws and show his teeth, at the very least so that Little Red Riding Hood leaves the bed fully aware of what has taken place. From this point of view it is sometimes difficult to know &mdash ; after examining certain of the accompanying illustrations (Montresor’s for instance) — if the picture is showing the moment when the little girl gets into the bed or tries to get out of it.
We have seen that in some popular versions of this particular scenario Red Riding Hood escapes the wolf and assumes a new womanly role while her grandmother is sacrificed. The little girl, having consciously or unconsciously caused the death of her ancestor, is now ready to create new life and become herself a parent. The story ends here. Nothing tells us if Little Red Riding Hood gets married one day, nor if she exercises her right to have lots of children. The sequel to this story is to be found in those contem-[p. 19]porary interpretations of the ancient tale. How have they altered the story of the little girl to conform to present-day ideas ?
A large part of today’s red riding hoods, fed on Perrault’s version of the tale, don’t want to resemble their predecessor. They have well remembered the warning given by Mother Goose ; following the example of the heroine of popular versions they don’t let themselves be « taken in » by the wolf. Among these is Little Miss Save Yourself (Mademoiselle Sauve-qui-peut) by Philippe Corentin  where the heroine ingeniously pays back the wolf and brings him to such a desperate point that he begs to be forgiven and promises never to frighten young girls again (illustration n° 7). In contrast to today’s wilful, decided, business-like to the point of aggressive and, often, independent young girls, Jean Claverie’s imagined heroine seems but a pale shadow . Calling upon the mother to deliver the young girl and the grandmother, doesn’t this author prevent the young girl from growing up ? [p. 20]
This returns us to the question of the three generations of women present in the fairy tale. It isn’t always an easy thing for a grandmother or a mother to cede her place to the next generation.
 Bernadette Bricout traces the first appearance of the motif of LRR to a Latin text of the 11th century. She cites De puella a lupellis servata of Egbert de Liège (around 1023). See Bernadette BRICOUT, « Heurs et malheurs d’un chaperon rouge » in Dire, n°8, hiver 1989.
 Bruno BETTELHEIM, Psychanalyse des contes de fées, Paris, Laffont, 1976.
 The Types of Folktale, Helsinki, Folklore Fellow Communications, 1964.
 Charles PERRAULT, Contes, textes établis et présentés par Marc Soriano, Paris, Flammarion, 1989, p. 181. All the English translations of the French quotations are mine.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 Bruno BETTELHEIM, op. cit., p. 258.
 It is common knowledge — and furthermore Wladimir Troubetzkoy states it clearly, that « In traditional societies, fairy-tales often accompanied rituals of initiation and described the transition from one time to another (e.g. Saintyves), one age to another, by describing a hero who is either a child or just emerging from childhood and who successfully accomplishes a new level of mastery : the child listening to this tale is invited to put itself in the place of the hero so as to willingly enter a new stage of development ». See Wladimir TROUBETZKOY, « De l’art d’accommoder les grands-mères : la Belle et le Chaperon » in Littératures, n° 24, printemps 1991, p. 30.
 Jacob and Wilhelm GRIMM, Le petit Chaperon rouge, traduction d’Armel Guerne, Paris, Flammarion, 1967, p. 163.
 Claude de la GENARDIÈRE, Encore un conte ?, Nancy, Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1993, p. 82.
 Charles PERRAULT, op. cit., p. 254.
 Jacob and Wilhelm GRIMM, op. cit., p. 161.
 Jacob and Wilhelm GRIMM, Hélène PRINCE (ill.), Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Hachette jeunesse, 1993 ; Beni MONTRESOR (ill.), Little Red Riding Hood, New York-London-Toronto-Sydney-Auckand, Doubleday, 1991.
 Jack KENT (ill.), M. GILARD (adapt.), Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Éditions du Sorbier, 1983 ; Tony ROSS, M.-R. FARÉ (trad.), Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Gallimard, 1980, coll. Folio Benjamin ; S. HEILPORN (ill.), E. LALLEMAND (adapt.), Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Hachette jeunesse, 1993.
 P. ESTRADA (ill.), F. BOADA (adapt.), Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Épigones, 1995.
 Jack ZIPES, Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood, New York, Routledge, 1993, p. 21
 See Charles PERRAULT, Gustave DORÉ (ill.), Contes de ma mère l’Oye, Paris, Gallimard, 1988, coll. Folio Junior.
 The expression « to wear the hat » has the meaning, in French, of « to be the guilty one ».
 See C. MARTIN GAITE, Le petit Chaperon rouge à Manhattan, Paris, Flammarion, 1998, coll. Castor Poche ; G. SOLOTAREFF, NADJA (ill.), Le petit Chaperon vert, Paris, l’École des loisirs, 1989, coll. Mouche de Poche ; P. JOIRET, X. BRUYERE (ill.), Mina je t’aime, Paris, l’École des loisirs, 1991, coll. Pastel ; H. ORAM, T. Ross (ill.), M.-F. de PALOMERA (trad.), Carmen, Paris, Seuil, 1992 ; A.-M. POL, I. BONHOMME (ill.), Lola et les loups, Paris, Hachette, 1988, coll. Le Livre de Poche.
 Philippe CORENTIN, Mademoiselle Sauve-qui-peut, Paris, l’École des loisirs, 1996.
 Jean CLAVERIE, Le petit Chaperon rouge, Paris, Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1994.