Here is part 2 of me ruining your favorite childhood stories/movies! (see here for part 1)
I will start us off with Little Red Riding Hood. This is, once again, a story about cannibalism (seriously, what was going through people’s heads??). The hunter was added in by the Brothers Grimm. In all earlier versions, there is no saving little Red. Perrault has the wolf posing as Red’s grandmother and devouring her whole, the end. In other versions, she goes over to her grandmother’s house and enjoys a nice meal together with the wolf posing as her grandmother. It turns out, however, that she has just eaten her grandmother’s flesh and drank her blood as wine. So, you know, not such a nice meal after all! She then strips naked, crawls into bed and is devoured by the wolf. End of story.
Older versions omit the grandmother all together. Red asks the wolf for directions to her grandmother’s house, but he leads her astray and eats her. The moral? Don’t take advice from strangers! And one particularly weird version has Red outwitting the wolf. She realises he is in her grandmother’s bed pretending to be her. So she can think of nothing better but to do a striptease and subsequently running away while he is thoroughly distracted. So, there. I do think I really prefer Disney’s version in this case!
And now, we’ll move on to one last example: The Little Mermaid. This Hans Christian Anderson original is also completely different from the Disney movie version: it is, of course, a lot more gruesome. Ariel does get her legs by trading her tongue, but what Disney doesn’t mention is that every step is very painful, like daggers in her feet. She dances for the prince to win his heart and even though he enjoys it, he decides to marry someone else. At that, Ariel’s sisters trade their hair for a magical dagger with which she has to use to kill the prince, then drip his blood over her feet, at which point she will turn back into a mermaid and live. Because if the prince marries someone else, she will turn into sea-foam and die. Ariel goes to the prince with the dagger, but can’t do it resulting in her death.
However, Anderson realised how unsatisfying the ending was and tried to change it to a happier one. Ariel doesn’t turn into sea-foam but instead becomes a “daughter of the air”. If I understand it right, this makes her some kind of ghost / guardian angel and if she does good deeds for 300 years, she can go to heaven. But a lot of people did not accept this “ludicrous ending” as they called it and stuck with Anderson’s original writings. Until Disney changed it into something completely different of course.
As Monty Python says: now for something completely different!
Well, not so completely … In my research for these two posts about fairy tales, I stumbled upon some weird and extraordinary things. Amongst al of that, I found this little gem, titled So You’ve Been Accused of Witchcraft and I just could not deprive you of this. So enjoy these instructions on how to prevent or stop people branding you a witch (source):
That is all for today! I hope you enjoyed finding out about the origins of fairy tales. If you know of similar cases, or you want to express how completely baffled you were by these origin stories (believe me, I was too!), let me know in the comments!