“Little Red Riding Hood” And Audience Communication

“Little Red Riding Hood” is one of the most popular fairy tales ever written. It has been deconstructed for meaning by a handful of different individuals, and its points are applicable to readers young and old. While this particular tale could be digested by any reader, it does have a specific audience. Like many European fairy tales written during its era, “Little Red Riding Hood” was written in order to communicate bigger, more complex subjects to young readers, who might not have been able to digest those topics if they were presented in some other medium. This story provides a picture of good versus evil in a manner that works well for this young audience, but is not exactly suited for older audiences that might need a more complex explanation of what happens when morality butts heads against immorality.

While it is certainly true that the originally published version of Little Red Riding Hood could be digested for its meaning and entertainment value by any reader, there is a specific reading audience in mind. That audience is comprised of young people. This is demonstrated by the fact that the characters are described in such cartoonish ways. “Little Red Riding Hood” is a character made for children. Likewise, the primary villain in the story – the Big, Bad Wolf – is written in such a way that it appeals to young people. These are characters that carry complex messages, but they are not complex characters in themselves. Even the illustrations that have long gone with this particular fairy tale make clear that children were the group that this was intended to hit. With that in mind, the author has written about big themes – the theme of good versus evil – with this audience in mind. The creation of the story’s argument is perfectly suited for this audience, while not being particularly well-suited for other audiences that might also want to consider the question of good versus evil.

The book’s primary symbolism is about the battle between good and evil. It describes the evil forces in the world as they are bound to attack the innocence that some might have. One of the seminal quotes that the story provides is instructive for looking at both the little girl and the wolf’s bad intentions. She is young, and as the wolf describes her, she is “tender.” This delicate framing is perfect for young people, describing the girl’s goodness in a way that is not particularly complex. Her tenderness, of course, is a signal of her goodness and her ability to treat people kindly. In this same quote, one sees the intentions of the wolf toward the girl and her grandmother. Evil, in this sense, is all about the scheming that the wolf is doing toward both of these characters. He is looking for a way in which he can do the most damage possible, hurting two people instead of one. This kind of binary iteration of evil is something that works particularly well for the audience that is supposed to read this book. “Evil,” in this sense, is doing the highest degree of bad. Killing one person is less bad than killing two people. This is the kind of concept that is easy for the young reader to understand, and it makes clear just what the story is dealing with in terms of moral standards.

The central moral of the story is that even if evil may be scary, good always triumphs over evil. As the story goes, the wolf appears to have the upper hand. He tricks the little girl, and he uses his forces of intimidation to put himself into a position where it appears that he might get to have his way with the girl and her grandmother. Over time, however, the little girl is saved by a man from the woods who is willing to put himself in danger in order to protect them. He is an instrument of “good” in almost every sense, coming to the aid of people who are innocent against someone who is not innocent. The story proceeds to show how the wolf thinks he has one, but is eventually cut open by the man from the woods. The wolf eventually collapses under his own weight after being filled with rocks, and the little girl and her grandmother are unharmed. This demonstration of the simplicity of good versus evil is something that works well for the intended audience for two reasons. For one, the tale is extremely binary in the way that it describes all characters. The wolf is bad, the woodsman is good, and the two women are innocent, and thus, good. This is easy to understand for a child, as it does not complicate matters by considering that some people are more complex. In addition, it tells a straightforward story that offers hope and motivation for young people wondering whether they should be good. In this story, good wins, and that means that being good will lead to rewards for individuals down the road. While this works for some, it may not work as well for other audiences.

Older audiences can still learn about good versus evil, of course, but they probably need a more nuanced version. Older people are more apt to learn that people are not simply good or evil. Rather, people are generally both of those things. Some people have good elements in them, and some people have bad elements in them. On the same day that a person injures another, he might have stopped to help a stranger in need. People are complex in nature, and painting them as just being good or evil is something that is not likely to satisfy the older, more attuned reader. Beyond that, older readers probably understand that in the real world, good does not always win, at least not right away. The reality is that some people do bad things and get away with those things. An older reader might see through this simple version of the truth, opting for the reality in which good people sometimes find themselves behind and people who do bad things sometimes find themselves with all of the rewards, financial or otherwise.

This particular story understands its audience. It captures the essence of good and evil, making sure that the characters are both simple and binary. At the end of the day, this story is good for the audience that it addresses. It puts things into a simple box, showing kids that if they do the right thing, they will be safe and protected, even in those situations when it looks like evil will get a leg up on them. While this might be good for young people, it may not be the most satisfying take on good and evil for older audiences, who might need a more complex iteration to be truly happy with the story.