Comments on "Snow White" Stories


In the introduction to this section of the anthology, Tatar says that
"Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has so eclipsed
other versions of the story that it is easy to forget that hundreds of
variants have been collected over the past century in Europe, Asia,
Africa and the Americas" (1999, p. 74). It seems that such is the case
with many fairy tales adapted for the screen by the Disney company. Once
again, there are two particular parts of this story that caught my
interest, evidence of both can be seen in the Grimms' adaptation of the
story, the second of which is blatantly referenced in Sexton's poem
version of the tale.

A section of the Grimms' tale struck me as very similar to tellings of
the "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" story I heard as a child. There are
references to, and all seven dwarfs go through the line, to the ideas
that someone's eaten their food, drank their wine and slept in their
beds, much like the bears' lament, though without the destructive
element of Goldilocks. I can't help but wonder if the Grimm brothers
were alluding to that story when telling their version of "Snow White,"
or if the story of Goldilocks grew from this one section of the Grimm
brothers' tale.

The other point of interest in the "Snow White" stories is the
implication that women are the lesser in intelligence when men and women
are compared. Again, in the Grimm brother's tale, the dwarfs repeatedly
tell Snow White not to open the door for anyone as they know her
stepmother is coming after her. Snow White, and Sexton refers to her as
a "dumb bunny" (in Tatar, 1999, p. 99), repeatedly ignores the warnings
of the dwarfs, and finds herself killed as many times as she opens the door.

We have already discussed the purpose of the Grimm's tales--that they
were designed to be morality tales for children of a set social class.
This being the case, that the protagonist of these stories continued to
repeat a dangerous action further perpetuated the Arthurian idea that
women need protecting from men, as they are not intelligent enough to
protect themselves.

Tatar, M. (1999). The Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton
& Co.

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