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Snow White (in German Schneewittchen) is a fairy tale known from many countries in Europe, the best known version being the German one collected by the Brothers Grimm. The German version features elements such as the magic mirror and the seven dwarfs, who were first given individual names in Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The story of Snow White and the dwarfs should not be confused with the story of Snow White and Rose Red (in German Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot), another fairy tale that was also collected by the Brothers Grimm.

In the Aarne-Thompson folklore classification, tales of this kind are grouped together as type 709, Snow White. Others of this kind include Bella Venezia, Myrsina, Nourie Hadig, The Young Slave and Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree. "The Jealous Sisters" is another Albanian fairy tale. In both fairy tales the death is caused by a ring.

In the many non-German versions, the dwarfs are generally robbers, while the magic mirror is a dialog with the sun or moon. In a version from Albania, collected by Johann George von Hahn and published in Griechische und albanesische Märchen. Gesammelt, übersetzt and erläutert (1864), the main character lives with 40 dragons. Her sleep is caused by a ring. The beginning of the story has a twist, in that a teacher urges the heroine to kill her evil stepmother so that she would take her place. The origin of this tale is debated; it is likely no older than the Middle Ages. In fact there are possibly two Albanian versions of Snow White: one where her stepmother tries to kill her, and another where her two jealous sisters try to kill her.

Story outline

The English translation of the definitive edition of the Grimm's Kinder - und Hausmärchen (Berlin 1857), tale number 53, is the basis for the English translation by D. L. Ashliman.

Once upon a time, as a queen sits sewing at her window, she pricks her finger on her needle and three drops of blood fall on the snow that had fallen on her ebony window frame. As she looks at the blood on the snow, she says to herself, "Oh, how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony". Soon after that, the queen gives birth to a baby girl who has skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. They name her Princess Snow White. As soon as the child is born, the queen dies.

Soon after, the king takes a new wife, who is beautiful but also very vain. The queen possesses a magical mirror that answers any question, to whom she often asks: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?" to which the mirror always replies "You, my queen, are fairest of all." But when Snow White reaches the age of seven, she becomes as beautiful as the day, and when the queen asks her mirror, it responds: "Queen, you are full fair, 'tis true, but Snow White is fairer than you." Though in another version, the mirror simply replies: "Snow White is the fairest of them all."

The queen becomes jealous, and orders a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed. She demands that the huntsman return with Snow White's heart as proof of her killing. The huntsman takes Snow White into the forest, but after raising his knife to stab her, he finds himself unable to kill her. Instead, he lets her go, telling her to flee and hide, and brings the queen the heart of a young deer, which is then prepared by the cook and eaten by the queen.

In the forest, Snow White discovers a tiny cottage belonging to seven dwarfs, where she rests. There, the dwarfs take pity on her, saying "If you will keep house for us, and cook, make beds, wash, sew, and knit, and keep everything clean and orderly, then you can stay with us, and you shall have everything that you want." They warn her to take care and let no one in when they are away delving in the mountains. Meanwhile, the Queen asks her mirror once again "Who's the fairest of them all?", and is horrified to learn that Snow White is not only alive and well and living with the dwarfs, but is still the fairest of them all.

Three times the Queen disguises herself and visits the dwarfs' cottage while they are away during the day, trying to kill Snow White. First, disguised as a peddler, the Queen offers colorful stay-laces and laces Snow White up so tight that she faints, causing the Queen to leave her for dead. However, Snow White is revived by the dwarfs when they loosen the laces. Next, the Queen dresses as a different old woman and brushes Snow White's hair with a poisoned comb. Snow White again collapses, but again is saved by the dwarfs. Finally, the Queen makes a poisoned apple, and in the disguise of a farmer's wife, offers it to Snow White. When she is hesitant to accept it, the Queen cuts the apple in half, eats the white part and gives the poisoned red part to Snow White. She eats the apple eagerly and immediately falls into a deep stupor. When the dwarfs find her, they cannot revive her, and they place her in a glass coffin, assuming that she is dead.

Time passes, and a prince traveling through the land sees Snow White. He strides to her coffin. The prince is enchanted by her beauty and instantly falls in love with her. He begs the dwarfs to let him have the coffin. The prince's servants carry the coffin away. While doing so, they stumble on some bushes and the movement causes the piece of poisoned apple to dislodge from Snow White's throat, awakening her. The prince then declares his love for her and soon a wedding is planned.

The vain Queen, still believing that Snow White is dead, once again asks her mirror who is the fairest in the land, and yet again the mirror disappoints her by responding that "You, my queen, are fair; it is true. But the young queen is a thousand times fairer than you."

Not knowing that this new queen was indeed her stepdaughter, she arrives at the wedding, and her heart fills with the deepest of dread when she realizes the truth.

As punishment for her wicked ways, a pair of heated iron shoes are brought forth with tongs and placed before the Queen. She is then forced to step into the iron shoes and dance until she falls down dead.

Comments

In their first edition, the Brothers Grimm published the version they had first collected, in which the villain of the piece is Snow White's jealous mother. In a version sent to another folklorist prior to the first edition, additionally, she does not order a servant to take her to the woods, but takes her there herself to gather flowers and abandons her; in the first edition, this task was transferred to a servant. It is believed that the change to a stepmother in later editions was to tone down the story for children.

Snow White's triple seeming-death and resurrection, beyond an amusement or wish-fulfilling temporary escape, fulfills the initiatory process of life, as Mircea Eliade described it: "What is called 'initiation' coexists with the human condition, reaffirms the ultimate religious significance of life and the real possibility of a 'happy ending.'"

Maria Tatar interprets the tale as a polarization of women into the evil and active versus the innocent, passive and domestic.

Margarete von Waldeck (1533–1554)

The story of Snow White may have been intertwined with those of some historical figures. Scholars have uncovered parallels between the legendary Snow White and Margarete von Waldeck (1533–1554). Like Snow White, Margarete was a strikingly attractive young woman. Like Snow White she had a problematic relationship with her stepmother. She grew up in the mining town of Waldeck, where small children known as "dwarfs" worked in the mines. At 16, Margarete moved to Brusselsmarker. There, she attracted the romantic interest of several nobles, including Phillip II of Spain. Phillip hoped to marry her because she was beautiful, but she became ill as a result of poisoning. Ruthless politics were a part of medieval court, where marriage to a powerful personage was often viewed as a way for a clan to gain allies to the detriment of rivals. Margarete died at the age of 21. The handwriting of her will, written shortly before her death, shows evidence of tremor. The perpetrator was never exposed, but it could not have been her stepmother, who was already dead at the time. The poignant tale of a beautiful young woman whose life was cut short may have captured the popular imagination and provided inspiration for the folktale.

Other versions

Modern narratives

The story in Russianmarker writer Alexander Pushkin's 1833 poem The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights is similar to that of Snow White, with knights replacing dwarf.One of the many retellings of the Snow White tale appears in A Book of Dwarfs by Ruth Manning-Sanders. Other versions include Tanith Lee's short story "Red as Blood" (published in her story collection of the same title), and Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples" (published in Smoke and Mirrors). Other writers who have made use of the theme include Donald Barthelme (in his novel Snow White), Gregory Maguire (in his novel Mirror Mirror), Jane Yolen (in her story "Snow in Summer," published in Black Swan, White Raven), Anne Sexton (in her poem "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," published in Transformations), Gail Carson Levine (in Fairest), and A. S. Byatt (in her essay "Ice, Snow, Glass," published in Mirror, Mirror on the Wall).

White as Snow, another retelling by Tanith Lee, combines elements of the Snow White story with the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Angela Carter has also written a postmodern version of the tale entitled 'The Snow Child' in her collection 'The Bloody Chamber'. Her story recreates a version of the tale collected but unpublished by the Grimm Brothers in which Snow White is a child of the father's desire rather than the mother's.

In 1982, Roald Dahl's book Revolting Rhymes rewrote the story in a more modern way. In this version, Snow White was a savvy young woman who stole the magic mirror to help the dwarfs gamble on winning horses.

Snow White is also a significant character in Bill Willingham's Fables comic book series. This version uses aspects of the Seven Dwarfs' Snow White, but has a sister named Rose Red.

In Ludwig Revolution, a gothic shojo manga by Kaori Yuki, uses aspects of Snow White story.

Mirror, Mirror, a novel by Gregory Maguire is based on the tale of Snow White. Bianca De Nevada is the child of Don Vincente De Nevada, who finds a mirror in a lake, a relic placed there by the mysterious stone dwarfs. Don Vincente is sent on a holy quest for a branch from the Tree of Knowledge by Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare, so that leaves Bianca under the watchful eye of the jealous Lucrezia.

Snow White or the House in the Wood, a 1900 novel by Laura E. Richards, is about a little girl who pretends to be Snow White. She is lost in the woods and finds a house that she hopes has seven dwarfs. But there is only one dwarf who takes her in and cares for her a while. The dwarf is a person of importance who had lost faith in humanity but finds it again in the little girl.

The Blood Confession a novel by Alisa M. Libby about a young countess who bathes in the blood of virgins in her desperation to be eternally young and beautiful. The novel is told in the point of view of the countess and draws on the evil stepmother character in Snow White. When a young girl named Snow appears, the countess endeavors to corrupt her perfect innocence. The Countess is also based on the legend of Countess Bathory.

Regina Doman adapted the story in the novel, "Black as Night." Here, Blanche, a Catholic orphan girl, takes refuge with seven friarrs.

Shel Silverstein's flippant poem Mirror, Mirror tells the alternate story of the mirror changing its mind after the Queen threatens to destroy it.

The story was also reworked by Ed Wicke in Wicked Tales (2006) where it appears as "Snow White and the Seven Easter Bunnies", set in the fairy tale kingdom of Pastiche. The bunnies carry machine guns, though they are loaded only with chocolate eggs...

Emma Donoghue presents her version of the story in her short story collection "Kissing The Witch," which does away with the prince. Instead it tells a much more complicated story of emotional tangle between Snow White and her young stepmother who is nearly the same age as she, with strong hints of romantic interest between the two.

Film and television

A 1902 Snow White film was released. A 1916 silent film titled Snow White was made by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and produced by Adolph Zukor and Daniel Frohman. Directed by J. Searle Dawley, it was adapted to the screen by Jessie Graham White from his play Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film starred Marguerite Clark as Snow White, Creighton Hale as Prince Florimond and Dorothy Cumming as Queen Brangomar/Mary Jane.

A 1933 Betty Boop cartoon, Snow White, was adapted from this story, as was the famous 1937 Disney animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the Disney version, Snow White wakes from her enchanted sleep as soon as the Prince kisses her, copied by Sleeping Beauty. Furthermore, the prince and Snow White have met prior to her enchanted sleep, so that he has fallen in love with the awake rather than the sleeping princess, an unusual variation in the Snow White tales. A sequel was made by Filmation Studios in 1988 and released theatrically in 1993, was called Happily Ever After.Snow White also has a role in the videogame Kingdom Hearts where she is one of the Princesses of Heart kidnapped by Maleficent. She also has a world based upon her known as Quaint Forest. The Disney version is distinctly parodied in the 1943 Merrie Melodies short cartoon Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs. The story is also adapted in the Japanese OVA, Super Mario's Snow White which King Koopa playing the role as the evil Queen, Princess Peach as Snow White, Mario as her rescuer, and Seven Toads instead of Seven Dwarfs.

Using ideas from Stanislav Grof, Joseph Campbell, and Carl G. Jung, Roberts claims that the Disney version of Snow White appeals to unconscious parts of the human mind including Grof's descriptions of birth experiences, Campbell's Hero's Journey, and Jung's archetypes.

This version of Snow White appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character, and is part of the Disney Princesses franchise. She is voiced by Carolyn Gardner.

An "all new, all live" version was done as an East German film in 1955 as Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge, and released in 1965.

In 1961, the story was parodied in the film Snow White and the Three Stooges, starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe "Curly-Joe" DeRita. In the film, the dwarfs had gone on vacation and lent Moe, Larry and Curly Joe the use of their cottage.

The comedy-horror-erotic adaptation of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Grimms Märchen von Lüsternen Pärchen (1969), presented Snow White among other characters of Grimm Tales. A pornographic version of Snow White was released in 1976 in the X-rated animated film Once Upon a Girl. 1979 Pornochanchada adaptation Histórias Que Nossas Babás Não Contavam ("Stories Our Nannies Don't Tell") featured an Afro-Brazilian actress, Adele Fátima, as Snow White. However, Snow White was not named "White" (branca) but clara (a Brazilianmarker racial term similar to fair skin). 1982 film Biancaneve & Co. is an adaptation of the fumetto Biancaneve by Leone Frollo. The film features the starlet Michela Miti as "Snow White". The Snow White story has also been made into a number of adult films. The most famous among these films is Biancaneve e i sette nani (1995) by Luca Damiano, starring Ludmilla Antonova.

The Goodies produced their version of the fairytale, called Snow White 2.

A 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch portrayed the Bradys (and Alice's boyfriend Sam) putting on a performance of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in their backyard.

The 1987 fantasy film Snow White (starring Diana Rigg as the Wicked Queen and Sarah Patterson as Snow White) was released direct to video using the Cannon Movie Tale logo. Other fantasy films were released in the series. It is currently available on Region 1 DVD from MGM.

In one of the episodes of Sailor Moon R, the main characters perform a stage version of Snow White and Ann (one of the villains from that season) plays Snow White after using a trick to get the role in order to get a kiss from Darien/Mamoru (Sailor Moon's love interest).

The 1997 fantasy/horror film Snow White: A Tale Of Terror (starring Sigourney Weaver as the Stepmother and Monica Keena as Snow White) purports to be a more authentic adaptation of the original Grimm fairytale. It did not have seven dwarfs, but instead had seven miners. In 2001 another live action version was made for TV, called Snow White. This version changed the storyline to include several more magical elements such as demons.

Daddy's Little Bit of Dresden China, a 1988 short film by British animator Karen Watson, uses the Snow White story as part of a story of child sexual abuse.

10th Kingdom, a short TV-series movie, was loosely based on Snow White, as well as many other fairy tales. Snow White herself (who acts as a fairy godmother) finds a bond with the heroine, as her mother tried to abort her, and Snow White's own mother tried to kill her. In 2000 the 10th Kingdom featured Camryn Manheim as Snow White. She appears to Virginia when they go to visit the dwarfs of Dragon Mountain. Snow White's mother was the swamp witch who brought Virginia mother Christine to the 9 Kingdoms and used her to carry out her revenge. In this version Snow White relates the tale of the Grimm Books but says that her stepmother after dancing instead of dying dragged herself to a swamp and became known as the swamp witch. Her Grandson Prince Wendell White is the current ruler of the fourth Kingdom.

HBO's Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child cast Snow White as White Snow, daughter of a native American chieftain.

In 1988, ABC released a sitcom based on the home life of Snow White and Prince Charming called The Charmings.

Nippon Animation told the story of Snow White in three episodes of its 1987 TV series Grimm Meisaku Gekijo (released in English as Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics). In 1994, the Tatsunoko animation studio adapted the story into a 52-episode TV series, Shirayuki-hime no Densetsu ("The Legend of Princess Snow White"), aired in Japan on NHK. Tatsunoko's production incorporated several "prelude" episodes emphasizing the romance between Snow White and her prince before launching into the story proper.

In 1988, the Filmation company produced a Snow White tale, Snow White and the Realm of Doom. Disney filed a lawsuit, which led the latter to change the film's title to Happily Ever After. Other drastic changes were made to the film, which was released on video in 1993. The story involves Snow White and her prince on their way to meet the seven dwarfs, but the wicked queen's brother, Lord Malice, wants revenge for his sister's death.

Branca de Neve (2000) is a Portuguese movie of João César Monteiro. Is a very polemic movie, where the image treatment is not classical nor orthodox. It is a reinterpretation of the Schneewitchen of the Belgium author, Robert Walser.

A segment of the 2005 Turkish anthology film Istanbul Tales made up of five stories based on popular fairy tales is based on this tale where the daughter of a mobster meets the eighth dwarf in underground tunnels.

Fairy Tales Exposed: The Facts Behind the Fiction (2005) is a 3-part documentary produced by ZDF Enterprises that explores the real-life events and people on which popular fairy tales including Snow White are based. It suggests that Margarethe von Waldeck alleged mistress of King Philip ll of Spain was the real Snow White.

Another unofficial sequel of sorts was released in theaters in Belgiummarker and Francemarker in January 2007: Blanche Neige, la suite (Snow White: The Sequel), an animated film for mature audiences. It was directed by Picha, who is known for his animated films of a sexually explicit nature, including Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle and The Big Bang.

The 2007 film Sydney White is a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale. It stars Amanda Bynes as Sydney White (Snow White), Sara Paxton as Rachel Witchburn (the Wicked Queen), and Matt Long as Tyler Prince (Prince Charming).

2007 also saw Snow White as part of the Disney movie Enchanted.

An episode of Supernatural was loosely based on several Fairy Tales including Snow White revolving around young girl poisoned by her stepmother.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror is a 1997 horror film based on the Snow White story. It stars Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill. The original music score is composed by John Ottman. The film is marketed with the tagline "The fairy tale is over." The film received mixed reviews but is praised for staying with the dark formulas that were once present in fairy tales.

The Disney version of Snow White makes a cameo amongst the crowd of Toons during the final scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In 1984, Shelley Duvall's televison show Faerie Tale Theatre did their own version of the tale with Vanessa Redgrave as The Evil Queen, Elizabeth McGovern as Snow White, Rex Smith as The Prince and Vincent Price as The Magic Mirror. Duvall made an appearence in that episode as Snow White's Mother.

Music

  • A sadistic version of the Disney Snow White appears in Germanmarker metal band Rammstein's video for the song Sonne. White is portrayed as a dominatrix and drug addict (who shoots up gold dust as a drug).
  • Snow White is described with stalking and obsession overtones in the song "Snow White Queen" on Evanescence's album The Open Door.
  • Snow White was also a song by Canadian Pop-Rock band Streetheart which alluded to a mischievous young woman who disguised her self as a pure, Snow White like figure.
  • Mirrors by Envy on the Coast is a darker song dedicated to the tale of Snow White.
  • Japanese visual kei rock band D released a single titled "Snow White" on January 21, 2009.
  • The Cure's 2008 album "4:13 Dream" includes a song entitled "The Real Snow White."
  • Kanon Wakeshima's song "Kagami" talks of the story of Snow White.


Theatre

The story of Snow White is a popular theme for British pantomime.

In 2009 Snow White was performed on Åbo Unga Teater in Finland. In Swedish Snow White is called SnövitIn 2007 Snow White was also performed in the famous golf town 'Carnoustie' in Scotland at Carnoustie High School

In some productions of the musical Into the Woods Snow White appears as the illicit love interest of one of the princes.

Snow White and Rose Red

There is another Brothers Grimm tale called Snow White and Rose Red which also includes a character called Snow White. However, this Snow White is a completely separate character from the one found in this tale. The original Germanmarker names are also different: Schneewittchen (the Princess) and Schneeweißchen (together with Rosenrot). There is actually no difference in the meaning (both mean "snow white"), but the first name is more influenced by the dialects of Low Saxon while the second one is the standard German version, demonstrating a class difference between the two Snow Whites.

See also



References

  1. Heidi Anne Heiner, " Tales Similar to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"
  2. On-line English text.
  3. Kay Stone, "Three Transformations of Snow White" pp 57-58 James M. McGlathery, ed. The Brothers Grimm and Folktale, ISBN 0-252-01549-5
  4. Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, p 36, ISBN 0-691-06722-8
  5. Eliade, Myth and Reality (New York) 1968:202, is expanded in N. J. Girardot, "Initiation and Meaning in the Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" The Journal of American Folklore 90 No. 357 (July-September 1977:274-300).
  6. Maria Tatar, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, p 242 W. W. Norton & company, London, New York, 2004 ISBN 0-393-05848-4
  7. descent from Henry II of England
  8. Pushkin, Alexander: "The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights", Raduga Publishers, 1974
  9. Terri Windling," Snow, Glass, Apples: the story of Snow White"
  10. Roberts, Thomas B. (2006) Psychedelic Horizons: Snow White, Immune System, Multistate Mind, Enlarging Education Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic
  11. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048591/
  12. YouTube


Further reading

  • Grimm, Jacob and William, edited and translated by Stanley Appelbaum, Selected Folktales/Ausgewählte Märchen: A Dual-Language Book Dover Publications Inc. Mineola, New York. ISBN 0-486-42474-X
  • Theodor Ruf: Die Schöne aus dem Glassarg. Schneewittchens märchenhaftes und wirkliches Leben. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 1994 (absolutely reliable academic work)
  • Jones, Steven Swann. The New Comparative Method: Structural and Symbolic Analysis of the allomotifs of "Snow White". Helsinki, 1990. FFC., N 247.


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