The Pleasure Principle in Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood and Brothers Grimm Little Red Cap

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Sigmund Freud, commonly referred to as "the father of psychoanalysis", is best known for his studies of sexual desire, repression, and the unconscious mind. Freud came to see personality as having three aspects, all of which work together to produce our complex behaviours: the Id (“It”), the Ego (“I”) and the Superego (“Over-I”). His psychoanalytic theories are used today in many different fields, including literature analysis. “Little Red Riding Hood”, written by Perrault in the 17th century, as well as in “The Little Red Cap”, written by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century, are both famous folktales turned fairy tales about a young girl’s encounter with a cross-dressing wolf. The tale makes the clearest contrast between the safe world of the village and the dangers of the forest. It also seems to be a strong morality tale, teaching children not to “wander off the path”. However, when applied to both Perrault's and the Grimm Brothers’ tale, we see that these tales are dominated by the Id, the function of the irrational and emotional part in the mind. The authors are trying to show us that being impulsive and basically giving in to your Id is not wise and might eventually lead you to your own doom. This is apparent in both tales, where Little Red Riding Hood gives into her desires and impulses by disobeying her mother and speaking to the wolf, whereas the wolf has more self-control and is able to restrain impulses.

At the beginning of the story, the first thing Little Red Riding Hood’s mother tells her is “Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother. She is sick and weak, and they will do her well. Mind your manners and give her my greetings. Behave yourself on the way, and do not leave...

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...delaying of gratification. Even though the wolf wants to eat the little girl, he realises he will enjoy it later when the time is right, when the risks are lower. After waiting for the right moment and delaying his desires and impulses, the wolf’s Id takes over and he not only eats the little girl, but the grandmother as well.

In the end, both Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf are guilty of giving into their Id. The moral of the story warns the reader that there are wolves in the real world that are just like the wolf in the story. These “wolves” are just preying on young, impressionable young girls in order to fulfill their sexual desires. These little girls are not just victims though. They are also able to act on their desires and be bad little girls. Everyone is capable of giving into temptation as well as what is not necessarily the right thing to do.
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