Most of us think of Disneyland when we imagine the fairytales of our youth. It is an imaginary world filled with beautiful princesses who always overcome challenges and find true love with a handsome prince. The villains are scary but easily overcome by goodness and justice. The tales come from a long tradition of folklore and were most notably made popular by the Brothers Grimm. What few of us know is that a French lawyer and sometime author who worked in the court of Louis XIV first wrote about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood more than two hundred years before the stories that we know today were penned. That man was Charles Perrault and he is featured in today’s Google drawing. This is his three hundred eighty eighth birthday.
Perrault’s tales were less enchanting and more instructive than the stories as we know them today. His intent was to provide children lessons in the pitfalls of living. He wrote in a dark and frightening tone, emphasizing the potential evil in the world rather than the light heartedness of romance. His tale of Little Red Riding Hood served as a warning to young girls about the potential of trouble when traveling alone. The wolf in his tale was a charmer, capable of disarming an innocent young lady. Only when it was too late would she realize his evil intentions. Perrault’s descriptions of the wolf devouring one of his victims was purposely terrifying. He wanted his readers to understand that naively engaging with a predator most often resulted in disastrous consequences. Continue reading “Wolves in the Woods”