Even though there are abundant approaches engaging in understanding literature, the psychoanalytic interpretation attempts to make use of the symbolic secrecy of a work. In contrast to the orderly approach, which focuses exclusively on the wording and the captivating aspect of the psychoanalytic interpretation is that it searches for a purpose further than what is seen in the text. By distrusting the existence of intrinsic and hidden motives, it allows for a wide range of abstract and creative possibilities. “Freud’s theories were enormously influential, but subject to considerable criticism both now and during his own life” (Cherry). His psychoanalytical theories are used today for a better understanding in analyzing literature. When the psychoanalytical theory of personality is being applied in Charles Perraults, “Little Red Riding Hood,” it suggests evidence toward sexual motivations and it integrates with Sigmund Freud’s psychic apparatus which contain the three key zones of the mental processes which are the id, ego and superego.
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Sigmund Freud pioneered the establishment of the psychoanalytical idea behind his principle theory that all human behavior is primarily motivated by sexuality. Throughout Charles Perrault’s, “Little Red Riding Hood,” there were various amounts of sexual associations throughout the story. Even the moral of the story suggests being cautious against “smooth-tongued and dangerous beasts” which like to dispossess young ladies of their innocence. Likewise, the wolf does not just consume the grandmother, but instead, “he immediately fell upon the good women and ate her up in a moment” (Perrault). Furthermore, before eating Little Red Riding Hood, he invites her to come in the bed with him. At which point, she “took off her clothes and got into bed. She was greatly amazed to see how her grandmother looked in her nightclothes” (Perrault). After she thoroughly examines and comments on the body parts of the wolf, he then “threw himself upon Little Red Riding Hood” (Perrault) to consume her as well. In response to such direct and obvious seduction, Little Red Riding Hood showed no motive to escape or fighting back. Either she is an ignoramus or she wanted to be misled. Furthermore, Perrault also makes use of another example: “Put the cakes and the little pot of butter on the bin and climb into bed with me” (Perrault). Little Red Riding Hood does not disagree and felt obligated to follow the wolf’s wishes, which shows her sexuality and desire for the wolf. With these details Little Red Riding Hood is changed from an unsuspecting, attractive young girl, who was persuaded to disobey her mother’s warnings and enjoys herself in what she believes to be innocent. These clear references in the text are proof of evidence that support Freud’s theories on the psychoanalytical approach.
In the beginning of “Little Red Riding Hood,” Little Red Riding Hood sets off on an adventure into the woods to go deliver goodies to her grandmother where then, “she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up” (Perrault) and continues to have a sociable conversation with the wolf. This was Little Red Riding Hoods first mistake. Young and unaware about the ways of the world, she thought it was normal to talk to a dangerous wolf. Since the little girl is young and vulnerable, since Little Red Riding Hood is friendly and ignorant she doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with talking to a stranger that comes across in the woods. The wolf asks Little Red where her grandmother lives, she responded, “A good quarter of a league farther on in the wood; her house stands under the three large oak-trees, the nut-trees are just below; you surely must know it” (Grimm). She wasn’t thinking thoroughly of what could come of her informing the wolf of where her grandmother lives. Due to Little Red Riding Hoods ignorance of what might happen due to her irresponsible choice of speaking with a dangerous and senseless wolf.
When accurately applying the psychoanalytical approach, it is appropriate to prove the interactions of the human mind. The concept of the unconscious mind inspire human behavior is essential to the examination of Perraults, “Little Red Riding Hood.” Cherry expresses the thought that, “Sigmund Freud believed that there were three psychic zones of the mental processes: id, ego and superego” (The Id, Ego and Superego). In “Little Red Riding Hood,” Little Red Riding Hoods elders, grandmother and mother represent the superego in the story. They both raise Little Red Riding Hood by helping to protect and control her motives and desires. On the other hand, the wolf symbolizes the id. Lacking both the logic and rule of action, he only functions only to reach full satisfaction. The wolf is guilty of giving into his own uncontrolled desires. When the wolf first catches sight of the young girl he, “wanted to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest” (Perrault). The wolf refrained himself from giving into his own urges because he was afraid of being mauled by the woodcutters nearby. Unfortunately, the wolf did not stay hungry for long. Giving into his voluptuous desires, he beat the girl to her grandmother’s house and ate her. Once he ate the grandmother he couldn’t ignore his desires anymore.
The wolf doesn’t think with his mind, but instead with his stomach. Cherry explains that, “The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state anxiety or tension” (The Id, Ego and Superego). The wolf relied on his aggression and desires to obtain what he wanted as his end result. Little Red Riding Hood on the other hand served as the middle man between self-control and utter confusion. Little Red Riding Hood symbolizes the ego and attempts to balance both the id and superego. At the beginning of the story Little Red Riding Hood who was described as being the, “prettiest creature who was ever seen” (Perrault). With her mother so adoring of her, she later enters into the woods where she confronts the id. At this point, she disobeys her mother’s instructions, and evolves to being a “poor child.” The moral of the story, is that these young women maybe well brought up but they still turn unwise and ignorant when they do speak to strangers. Being considered as the “prettiest creature,” it was Little Red Riding Hoods own fault for leaning too far into the senseless id. Furthermore, Sigmund Freud suggests that this struggle of the psychic apparatus of the three mental processes of the psychoanalytical theory of personality can only conclude to the death of Little Red Riding Hood, which inevitably also turned out to be the fate of her grandmother.
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At the end of the story, the foolishness of the main characters comes to an all time high. Little Red Riding Hood is extremely happy when she gets to see her sick grandmother and try and cheer her up. Little Red Riding Hood being ignorant and unaware she does not realize that her grandmother is actually the wolf who she met earlier. If she was more observant and not so wrapped up in her own little world, she could have realized that there was something truly wrong with the way her grandmother looked. She currently had no common sense in this situation. The wolf, who has one thing on his mind, tricks her in telling him where her grandmother lives. The wolf is certainly no better than the little girl in this situation. The wolf could care less about anything else, except his only motivation which is to get Little Red Riding Hood into bed with him. “Put the cake and the butter down on the bread-bin and come and lie down with me” (Perrault). The wolf’s only goal is to satisfy his uncontrollable desires. The wolf does not know right from wrong, he just reacts to his animalistic desires. The wolf is id driven creature whose only goal in life is to please himself by any means necessary.
Both Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf are both guilty of giving into their id. The moral of the story cautions the reader that the wolf in the story is going to try and take advantage of any ignorant or vulnerable creatures. These young girls are able to act on their desires and act as bad girls. Everyone is capable of giving into their own temptations and what is not necessarily the right thing to do. Despite the fact that the psychoanalytic approach is used for interpretation of literature, it proves to be entirely intriguing. In stories such as this, the sexual motives are clearly seen, and thus confirming the complexity behind the approach. Maybe it is a bit untraditional. However, this examination remains both thought disturbing and brilliantly intriguing.
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