Once Upon a Time, fairy tales weren’t written for children.
In spite of their name, the popular fairy tales usually have very little to do with fairies. We took the name from the French “contes des fee”, and the French literary fairy tales of the 17th century do feature far more fairies than the tales which are best-known today. The Grimm brothers collected the folk tales of the German people to make up their volume, but fairy tales are more than just folk tales. The German term for them is “MA?rchen”, a word for which there is no satisfactory English equivalent – it is the diminutive of MA?r, a story or a tale, and has come to mean a story of wonder and enchantment, as the fairy tale is.
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Although large numbers of literary fairy tales were written in 17th century France, most of the tales which are still told and retold now are far older in origin. Many of the stories were edited and changed as they were written down, removing the darker and more gruesome elements of the stories.
The intended audience of the stories has also changed. Perrault’s collection of tales was written to be presented at the court of Versailles, and each tale ended with a moralistic verse. At the same time, literary fairy tales of great imagination and invention, often quite cruel and gruesome, were being created by the women surreptitiously rebelling against the constraints placed on them by their restrictive society. They were not written for children. These are life lessons written down in sometimes a fanciful or whimsical manner. These have been sugar coated and watered down through every passing. Today they mean a lot less than they used to. These are some of the changes I have found.
Little Red Riding Hood.
Little Red Riding Hood, the girl who foolishly pauses to talk with a wolf and ends up being gobbled up by him in bed. .
Or Does She?.
Not in the earliest versions of the tale, no.