The Development and Humorous Use of Fairy Tales by the Example of Little Red Riding Hood

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2006

24 Pages, Grade: 1.3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. From the Oral Folktale to the Modern Fairy Tale

3. The Development of “Little Red Riding Hood”
3.1 From the Beginning Until the Grimms’ Version
3.2 The Development After the Grimms’ Version

4. The Fairy Tale as a Humorous Story

5. Fairy tales in the Classroom
5.1 What do Fairy Tales Teach?
5.2 How Can Fairy Tales Be Used in the Classroom?
5.3 How Can Fairy Tales Be Used in a Humorous Way?
5.4 What Has to Be Borne in Mind

6. “Little Red Riding Hood” in the Classroom
6.1 “Little Red Riding Hood” as a Parody
6.2 “Little Red Riding Hood” as a Cartoon

7. Conclusion

8. Bibliography

9. Appendixes
9.1 Appendix 1: Gianni Rodari: Little Green Riding Hood (1973)
9.2 Appendix 2: Joachim Ringelnatz: Kuttel Daddeldu tells his Children the Fairy Tale about Little Red Cap (1924)
9.3 Appendix 3: James Thurber: The Little Girl and The Wolf (1939)
9.4 Appendix 4
9.5 Appendix 5
9.6 Appendix 6

1. Introduction

“Once upon a time...” – At the beginning of a text these words already make obvious that the recipient is dealing with a fairy tale. Fairy tales are known all over the world, independent of age groups and social status. The most famous versions have been written by the Brothers Grimm, even though they were neither the first, nor the last authors of fairy tales. Instead, these stories have a very long tradition rooting in the culture of primitive people who expressed their own experiences by telling each other folk tales. Since then, every era and culture had tales like these, either adaptations of the original ones, or new stories always dependent on the respective time and situation, until the well-known fairy tales developed which are though to have been written for children. Today it is known, that this kind of literature is actually not only supposed to be for children.[1] Furthermore, the development of fairy tales didn’t stop in the 19th century but is still in progress. By means of new media and modernised, often humorous, versions of the stories, they are still up-to-date and there exist versions for every age group.[2] One of these tales is the famous “Little Red Riding Hood”. With origins in the medieval storytelling tradition it has become a very popular folktale rewritten by different authors of various nationalities. Even today it is still a popular basis for stories, parodies or cartoons. Also at school, fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood can be used in their various versions and genres, either in its original version as a folktale or as a humorous story. Using this kind of stories in school can be used to bring fun into the class as well as to make pupils familiar with the genre of humorous stories used to express certain grievances in the society. In the following, the development of the fairy tale as a whole and of “Little Red Riding Hood” in particular will be displayed. Afterwards the use of fairy tales in the classroom will be discussed, before the other use of the tale, its use as a humorous story and its use and function at school will be shown. Again, special attention will be paid to the example of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

2. From the Oral Folktale to the Modern Fairy Tale

Originally, the folk tale derives from the storytelling tradition of old, primitive peoples until it firstly appeared in written versions during the late Middle Ages.[3] Even today, fairy tales are very famous and known all over the world. They are not only present in various written forms, but also in a variety of films, merchandising articles or advertisements, while the oral tradition has lost its importance.[4] In former times, the people expressed their needs and their perception of nature and social life by telling stories, which varied according to the time and situation the people were living in. They served as a kind of communication between the storyteller and his audience. Therefore, these tales have a very long tradition and were carried along over centuries, always adjusted to the respective era. In the 18th and 19th century, the first written versions developed, which also reflected the present problems and situation of the time. The authors included criticism and descriptions of the particular social situations in their stories, mostly reflecting the lower classes’ point of view. A great change took place, when the aristocracy in the 16th, 17th and 18th century expanded the publication of folk tales and made into an own literary genre. It became more and more fantastic and aesthetic and was mostly used to spread the ideologies of the upper class. The traditional folk tales had been turned into the fairy tale. When in the 18th century the bourgeois class developed and more and more people were able to read, further changes took place. The tales were considered to be amoral and were changed into stories in which the authors protested against the new ideas of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, they stayed popular and were particularly liked by the people suffering from capitalism, as they were able to flee into a world of fantasy. Among those people, fairy tales were widely spread and transformations were developed to express their needs and situations. In the further development, more and more transformation of fairy tales took place, so that they were finally turned into a genre which was thought to be written for children.[5] The most famous written collection of folk tales is the compilation by the Brothers Grimm. They actually didn’t collect folk tales to compose a children’s book but to establish a collection of tales for adults. Children were, however, allowed to listen to the tales, even though they were stories for grown-ups. As the folk tales were very well liked among the young people, they were soon regarded as children’s stories, although critics considered them to be too cruel and scary for children. Therefore the Grimms developed a new compilation with other, less brutal and less vulgar, versions of the tales, which fitted into the upcoming “Biedermeier” era which had a high degree of prudery. These changes allowed the tales to be read by children and to become more famous. Even though the stories were usually not written to be an educational book, they have been used as such, and can still be used in this way.[6] In the later development, fairy tales have always been used as a means to express the problems of the time and to criticize the political situations. To achieve this, the original plot was maintained and filled with a new, up-to-date story. Even today, this development is still in progress. With the invention of mass media, fairy tales are not only spread by writings or illustrations, but also broadcasted on radio and TV, often filled with current contents,[7] what makes them and their influence stay in the people’s minds.[8]


[1] cf. Rötzer, Hans Gerd: Märchen. (C.C. Buchner 1995), p.5f.

[2] cf. Psaar, Werner; Klein, Manfred: Wer hat Angst vor der bösen Geiß? Zur Märchendidaktik und Märchenrezeption. (Westermann, 1976), p.7.

[3] cf. Zipes, Jack: Breaking the magic spell. Radical theories of folk and fairy tales. (University of Texas Press, 1979) p.ix

[4] cf. Ibid, p.1f.

[5] cf. Ibid, p.5ff.

[6] cf. Rölleke, Heinz: Daß unsere Märchen auch als ein Erziehungsbuch dienen “, Wardetzky, K.; Zitzlsperger, H., eds. Märchen in Erziehung und Unterricht heute. Band II Didaktische Perspektiven. (Schneider 1997) p.30ff.

[7] cf. Zipes, Jack: Breaking the magic spell. p.15.

[8] cf. Ibid, p.22.

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The Development and Humorous Use of Fairy Tales by the Example of Little Red Riding Hood
University of Paderborn
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Development, Humorous, Fairy, Tales, Example, Little, Riding, Hood
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Melanie Kloke (Author), 2006, The Development and Humorous Use of Fairy Tales by the Example of Little Red Riding Hood, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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