Many folks are aware that modern fairy tales are frequently sanitized versions of the original tales that they are based on. Charles Perrault admitted that his version of the story “Little Red Riding Hood” was intended to teach a lesson to children to avoid strangers, especially young women who might be overcome by a predatory male. Thus, Red Riding Hood is devoured at the close of his tale as a brutal illustration of the lesson to be learned.
The Perrault version is especially disturbing because of its commitment to the potential for the instructional quality of story, as it is a fairy tale willing to not merely put a child at peril but to see consequences for foolishness on the part of the young to a very terrifying and very terminal conclusion. Even the Brothers Grimm, also not ones to normally shy away from violence in their tales, were unwilling to see their revision of the tale through to this conclusion. They found a way for a child to ultimately escape despite the errors of her ways.
Most modern versions of fairy tales also revise the more “questionable” elements of such stories, but David Bae and Nathan Ratcliffe’s Gretel and Hansel series returns to the uglier truths of a violent world that is unforgiving of the inexperienced and immature. Interestingly, the reversal of the protagonist’s names in the title, which signals the developers’ decision to make Gretel the clearly dominant hero in the story, seems to especially beg comparison to Perrault’s type of tale. It is the female character that is most at risk throughout the games, since that is the character that the player largely controls, making one wonder if there is a similar lesson intended, something about the fragility of children with younger women being made especially vulnerable here.