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Meet the characters of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ the story of a girl, her grandmother and a big, bad wolf! In this lesson, we’ll explore each of the characters more fully and take a look at the role they play.

The Story

A childhood classic, Little Red Riding Hood tells the story of a sweet young girl who has been sent on an errand by her mother, a trip to her ailing grandmother’s house to deliver a meal. Along the way, the girl meets a wolf in the woods. He works to distract her and slow her down, pointing out the flowers her grandmother would enjoy.Though she doesn’t know it yet, the sneaky wolf has beaten her to the house! He has eaten the little girl’s grandmother and dressed in the grandmother’s clothes to try to fool Red Riding Hood.

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The girl discovers that the wolf’s face (his eyes, his ears and his teeth) are much too big to be her grandmother, and she is eaten whole!Luckily, there is a woodsman nearby the cottage who hears the commotion. He quickly realizes that the wolf has eaten both the old lady and the young girl, and then slices the wolf open to free them. He’s able to kill and skin the wolf. Both Red Riding Hood and the grandmother are safe and enjoy a meal together.

The Characters

From this brief summary, you can see that the number of characters in this short fairy tale are pretty limited.

Let’s take a close look at each one.The main character of the story and its namesake, Little Red Riding Hood is described in various versions as a sweet, young girl who was well loved. She is outfitted in a red velvet cape, made for her by her grandmother, and she loves it so much that she refused to take it off. We don’t know what the child’s actual name is, thanks to the red cape.

What we can guess from the story is that the girl is loving and obedient, since she’s been sent on an errand by her mother. She must be trustworthy to carry out the task, but also innocent and naive because she’s unafraid of the wolf when they first meet. It also takes her a bit to recognize the wolf pretending to be her grandmother once she reaches the house. When she does, she is scared.

Once the woodsman comes to their rescue, we find out that both the girl and the grandmother return to their merry ways and eat the food she has delivered.The grandmother lives in the woods, a fair journey for Red Riding Hood to make to arrive at her cottage. She is both ill and weak, and needs the nourishment from the food packed away by Red Riding Hood’s mother for her health.

She’s a woman who is aged and frail and unable to get around easily. We know this because when the wolf arrives at the house, he is able to snatch the grandmother up and eat her. The old woman isn’t even able to get out of the bed to answer the door, and invites the wolf in. She is saved in the end by the heroic actions of the woodsman.We first meet the wolf in the woods during Red Riding Hood’s journey to her grandmother’s house.

The wolf first presents himself as friendly to the girl, but it’s all an act. He’s trying to trick her into telling him what she’s carrying in her basket and where she’s headed. When the girl acts unafraid and speaks to him, he is able to get the information he wants and starts to hatch a plan.The wolf’s smart and cunning nature starts to show itself as he works to distract Red Riding Hood along her path. His goal? To eat the girl, who he thinks will be tastier, as well as the old woman. By tricking the girl, he’s able to get ahead of Red Riding Hood and make it to the grandmother’s house before her.

In his greedy hunger, he eats the grandmother up and puts on her clothes to fool the girl. His plan works because when the girl arrives she, too, is eaten up.Ultimately, the wolf is killed because his greed has gotten the best of him. He could have easily consumed the girl in the woods and been on his merry way, but he wanted them both and paid for it with his life.He’s never identified by name, but the woodsman is the real hero of Little Red Riding Hood’s story. From what we know about the man, he’s been trying to kill the wily wolf for some time.

We also know that he was close enough to the grandmother’s house to hear what was happening once the little girl arrived.Acting quickly, the woodsman cuts open the belly of the wolf and frees Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. He then stitches the wolf’s belly full of stones and kills him when he awakens. In the end, the woodsman got what he wanted, which was the pelt of the wolf, and he helped two people in need along the way.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. Little Red Riding Hood is a short fairytale with just a few characters. We meet the story’s namesake, Little Red Riding Hood, at her own home as she’s preparing to go on an errand for her mother. She is dressed in a red cape and is both well liked and somewhat naive. On her way, she encounters the wolf. Unafraid at first, she is tricked by the wolf’s friendliness and cunning ways.

The wolf, now knowing the girl’s plan, skips along the path ahead of her and arrives at grandmother’s house first. Unable to get out of bed due to her age and poor health, the grandmother invites the wolf to come in. She’s probably expecting her granddaughter, but is duped by the wolf and eaten.

The woodsman, in the woods nearby, springs into action after the girl arrives and saves them both, while keeping the wolf’s pelt for himself.

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