Gilbert & Gubar's Snow White


Gilbert and Gubar (in Tatar, 1999) offer analytical perspective into the
classic fairy tale we know as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." As I've
looked at the role of parent already, I'll continue with that theme,
focusing on Gilbert and Gubar's take on the role of the father figure
within this particular tale.

The male figures in "Snow White," according to Gilbert and Gubar, take a
backseat to the conflict between mother and daughter. This secondary
role, however, still has a vast impact on the mother's motivation, and
thus the patriarchal characters are part of the driving force in terms
of plot movement.

Of the "magic mirror" as we know it, Gilbert and Gubar say that one male
figure, the father figure, is "the voice of the looking glass, the
patriarchal voice of judgment that rules the queen's--and every
woman's--self-evaluation" (in Tatar, 1999, p. 293). It is this
judgmental voice, the one that tells the queen that she no longer holds
highest favor, that provides the catalyst for the queen's hatred of her
daughter, and the part of herself that mirrors her daughter.

Similarly, the "huntsman is really a surrogate for the King, a
parental--or more specifically, patriarchal--figure who 'dominates,
controls and subdues wild ferocious beasts" (Gilbert & Gubar in Tatar,
1999, p. 294). Here we see another male character who has limited input
in the story become a driving force for plot. It is the huntsman's
failure, his choice to save his "daughter" that escalates the queen's
anger, having ingested the innards of a wild boar instead of the girl's
own entrails.

Gilbert, S. and Gubar, S. Snow White and her wicked stepmother. In
Tatar, M. (1999). The Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton
& Co.

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