“Little Red Riding Hood”: Theoretical Analysis

Karl Marx

Based on the Marxist theory, the red color in the story stands for communism, and the girl is the proletariat. The food represents prosperity, and the Red Riding Hood tries to bring it to her sick grandmother in order to protect the weaker cohort of people. The “system” allows the grandmother to suffer, and there are other people who are willing to help the struggling population (Marger, p. 30). The Wolf, on the other hand, is a pure homage to capitalism because it tries to ingest the most fragile members of the community.

The Red Riding Hood’s journey through the forest brings out the concept of false consciousness introduced by Marx, which means that the proletariat is taken away from diagnosing oppression with the help of symbols of temporary happiness that represent the capitalist delusion. As soon as the Wolf eats the grandmother and the girl, capitalism takes over, but there is still hope. The Huntsman is the revolution that is required to correct the mistakes of the past and save the community from capitalism (Marger, p. 31). The philanthropic mission accomplished by the Red Riding Hood brought support and strengthened the grandmother, meaning that the communist ideal has been achieved.

Thorstein Veblen

Despite the satire included in Veblen’s work, his Theory of the Leisure Class may also be aligned against the ideas represented in the Little Red Riding Hood. The girl and her mother are characterized as two of the members of a society where an evident class distinction is present (Marger, p. 92). As one may see from the story, both the Wolf and the Huntsman are the two representations of men in society, which also finds reflection in Veblen’s theory, who believed that the primitive society included people with different characteristics but always saw women as inferior (Marger, p. 92). The Wolf, as an evident member of the barbarian class, tries to consume as much as possible while he is alive in order to pursue a lifestyle that appeals to him best.

The Huntsman, on the other hand, is the image of a different member of society who tries to bring back equality and functionality. His attempts are aimed at saving the grandmother, which is an important activity in the eyes of society (Marger, p. 92). This satirical outlook included in Veblen’s theory also means that the upper classes (the mother and the Red Riding Hood) would always look down on the barbarians (the Wolf) who either counteract or at least promote a different set of values.

Max Weber

Weber’s theory also acknowledges the existence of social classes, but the problem with the Red Riding Hood is that a social action may only be considered ‘social’ when it has a certain meaning attached to it. The Wolf, therefore, completes a series of unpredictable actions that cannot be considered social because he does it out of mere nonconformity and intrusiveness (Marger, p. 41). The Red Riding Hood, on the other hand, performs an action that has a motive behind it, as she wants to bring food to her grandmother. The Huntsman challenges Wolf’s nonconformity and restores the balance by saving the grandmother and the girl.

Weber’s theory is a nod to the rejection of a structuralism-based view of society, where actions mean much more than the division to social classes. Based on his theory, it may be concluded that anyone in the story could have altered their behavior to contribute to social equality and make it possible to reach a clear social structure (Marger, p. 42). The presence of nonconformists similar to the Wolf makes it hard to popularize the idea of social class benefits, meaning that the lack of uniformity creates premises for further development and attracts the society (even if the initial changes are deemed to be negative).


When assessing the story through the prism of the feminist theory, it quickly becomes evident that numerous gender stereotypes direct the narration. The mother who bakes cakes is a general view of women that are always expected to stay in the kitchen and remain responsible for cooking. It is also interesting that the story starts off with the mother baking cakes, but the latter sends the Red Riding Hood to the grandmother with a pot of butter. The girl is portrayed as scatterbrained, as she does not show any reluctance to communicating with the Wolf and shares much personal information with no hesitation.

The author represents the Red Riding Hood as silly as well because the girl cannot distinguish between her grandmother and the Wolf. Based on the feminist theory, it may also be claimed that the Wolf is a general representation of how males are aggressively pursuing their female “prey.” The girl is the weaker figure out of the two across the whole story, meaning that the inherent life lesson in the Little Red Riding Hood is that women are inferior to men (Marger, p. 361). The grandmother and the girl are also helpless to an extent where they have to be rescued and protected by another male figure.

Work Cited

Marger, Martin. Social Inequality: Patterns and Processes. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2013.

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