Various children's stories take place in the woods. The woods serve as a place of danger, loneliness and despair in most fairy tales. As each fairy tale presents a lesson, the significance of the woods in each story contributes to the overall lesson.
Hansel and Gretel
This Grimm's Brothers fairy tale of "Hansel and Gretel" begins with two children and two loving parents. Some adaptations switch the biological mother with an evil stepmother. The father, a woodcutter, cannot successfully support the entire family. One day the mother ships the children, Hansel and Gretel, off to the woods to lessen the burden on the father. While in the woods, the children meet a cannibalistic witch who wishes to eat Hansel and Gretel. In the end the kids overpower the witch and travel back through the woods to their home.
Little Red Riding Hood
Many adaptations of the classic story of "Little Red Riding Hood" exist around the world. Charles Perrault first wrote the story in 1697. The main character, an exceptionally beautiful young lady, begins nameless until her grandmother gives her a red velvet hood. From this moment on, the girl is known as Little Red Riding Hood. While the details vary from story to story, most depict the girl travelling to her grandmother's home in or through the woods. During her journey she comes across a wolf with evil intentions. The wolf attempts to trick Little Red Riding Hood so that he can dine on her and her grandmother, however the two ladies overpower him in the end.
The story of Goldilocks is also known as "The Three Bears" or "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." The original version by Robert Southey was first published in 1837. Goldilocks, the main character, is a poor young lady travelling through the woods. She comes across an empty house in the woods and helps herself to some porridge followed by a nap. During her nap the home dwellers, three bears, arrive back at home to find the house awry. Goldilocks awakes to the three bears peering at her and immediately bolts back into the woods never to return to the house again.
The Brothers Grimm fairy tale of "Snow White" became the first full length animated film by Disney in 1937. The story begins with a king and his queen. The queen deeply desires for a daughter with, "Skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony." When the queen finally gets her wish, she dies during childbirth. Enter the new queen, an evil stepmother jealous of Snow White's beauty. The stepmother demands Snow White be banished to the woods and put to death. She did not die, but remained lost in the woods and befriended seven dwarfs. When the new queen received word Snow White still lived, she delivered her a poisoned apple. Everyone believed Snow White was dead until a handsome prince stumbled upon her, giving her the kiss of life. The two lived happily every after.