Below are two illustrations of the moment in “Little Red Riding Hood” when the heroine of the story first encounters the wolf. Both these illustrations are effective in that they reveal as much about the thematic concerns of the artists as they do about the story itself.
Doré, in the first illustration, depicts the wolf as seductive, if intrusive, while Tyler, by emphasizing the wolf’s jaws, his imperious size, and his lecherous expression, does the opposite; in the first illustration, the little girl can arguably be viewed as a participant in her fate, whereas in the second illustration, she is cast purely as a victim. This difference is important for a number of reasons, not least of all because it allows us to recognize the complexity of fairy tales, which belong to a genre sometimes regarded as simplistic. It also draws our attention to a spectrum in art that we might describe as the ‘implicit-explicit’ spectrum: while Doré’s work succeeds through implication, inviting us to contemplate the ‘unsaid’ (what, for instance, is the wolf saying to the girl?), Tyler’s work succeeds through explication, even exaggeration, diminishing the ‘unsaid’ until it becomes almost irrelevant or non-existent.