*** Just a quick head's up on this particular A to Z post, as it brings with it some slightly more adult themes.
Along with the often violent themes accompanied with many of our favorite fairy tales, there has been some interest in the often sexual nature of these stories. I can think of no two stories that demonstrate this more than that of Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood.
Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood is the most obvious of the two, red being the color most often associated with sexuality. In one interpretation of the story, young Red's venturing out into the forrest alone is a metaphorical sexual awakening, the red cloak she wears a physical representation of her intimate desires. There is a definite sexual undertone to the relationship between Red and the Wolf, and it can therefore be understood that the wolf is the corresponding sexual predator, a threat to her innocence.
Thus Perrault warns good little girls about the dangers of talking to strangers and the moral of the tale becomes one of slut shaming, predicated on an early understand of rape culture . . . the general idea being "caution toward sexuality, for fear of repercussion".
Or, you know, it could just be a story about a little girl who goes off into the woods and almost gets killed by a wolf. Whatever.
The story of Rapunzel is one similarly representative of sexual awakening. Rapunzel is locked away in a tower at the tender age of twelve, the age generally associated with female transition into puberty. In essence, she is barred from her own sexual development. It is interesting then, isn't it, that a woman's hair is often associated with female sexuality. Long, unbound hair is symbolic of sexual intent, and in Rapunzel's case, it grows long and longer as she remains shut away from the world. And men. Even more interesting then when the sorceress finds out about her encounter with the prince, and punishes her by cutting off her long locks, symbolically castrating her.
It's interesting to note that in the Grimm Brother's 1857 version of Rapunzel, the sorceress who holds her captive finds out about her visitations from the prince when she accidentally asks why pulling up the prince is so much easier than pulling up the sorceress. However, in the original 1812 version, Rapunzel betrays their secret when she asks why her clothes have grown too tight, revealing that she has become pregnant through her trysts with the prince.
My favorite version:
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme (in case you didn't already guess) is Fairy Tales. Stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet, and if you'd like to check out the other participants, simply click here.