Thursday, August 18, 2016

Snow White (Part 1)

Okay. yeah. So for those of you who couldn't figure out what story was illustrated on the cover of "Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest" Book 5, that story was, in fact, "Snow White."

Now, like I said before, if I didn't remember that the story didn't look interesting to me before I saw the Disney movie, and someone told me about this fact, I wouldn't believe them for a second. This is because "Snow White" is one of my all time favorite fairy tales. (Strangely, before I saw the cover of Book 5 of GFTTC on Google Images, I somehow remembered the cover illustration having Snow White reading a book to the dwarfs while sitting in a chair, though the rest of the picture would have been the same. I don't know why I remember it that way, because that's definitely not the case. Maybe I'm getting it mixed up with some other book cover for a different story, who knows).

Anyway, I was at my grandmother's house for a few weeks for a reason I can't remember (possibly Bible School at her church, but there's a whole flood of possibilities, so I don't know for sure). She happened to have the Disney movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," on VHS, and she put it in for me to watch.

It didn't take long for me to start seeing similarities between the movie and the illustrations from GFTTC Book 5. Now, of course, the illustrations were not inspired by the Disney movie (I think GFTTC was actually originally published in Italy, and was translated to English for the Canadian edition), but things didn't have to look one hundred percent the same for me to figure out that they were basically the same thing. Because here's what I noticed:

A Queen looking in a mirror and frowning, just like in GFTTC.

A girl with dark hair, just like in GFTTC.

Dwarfs, just like in GFTTC.

The girl with dark hair lying on the ground next to an old woman, just like in GFTTC.

And finally, the girl laying in coffin, just like in GFTTC.

It wasn't long before I realized this must have been "the other story." I didn't know for sure though.

(Here's a funny story. I have like the most random dreams ever, and one of them still makes me laugh when I think of it. Before I actually came across the orange book at Walmart where I re-saw the Three Pigs illustrations, I had a dream where we obtained a new copy of GFTTC Book 5. I opened it up, hoping to see that I was right about the second story being Snow White, but I was wrong, because it was some Christmas story instead. But the funniest part was that, when I opened the book again, the pages were in the wrong order, and then I woke up. But no, after looking up the book online later, I discovered I had been right the whole time.)

Anyway, the book I found at Walmart didn't have Snow White in it (or at least I didn't see it in that book), so I have never seen those pictures again aside from the cover illustration, which makes me sad. I'm going to have to buy a book with those illustrations too (maybe I can save money by just buying a new GFTTC Book 5).

Okay, enough of my history with these stories. I apologize to any of my friends from school who happened to come across this blog on their own Google search, because you've heard this same story from me a zillion times.

Let's get on with actually talking about the story, "Snow White," as recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

Now, unlike the classic Disney version, the Brothers Grimm version goes more into the backstory of how Snow White was born. Basically, a queen is sewing and pricks her finger. The blood falls out the window on the snow outside. The queen looks at the red blood, the black ebony wood of the window frame, and the white snow, and basically says, "I want a kid like that."

Okay, I'm paraphrasing. But that's basically what this passage is saying. Snow White is literally born from a wish (or at least that's what I think the story implies). And this is where we come into one of those differences between the first and last editions of the Grimm's Collection.

In the first edition, there is only one queen in the entire story. In the second edition onwards, there are two separate queens. The first queen dies giving birth to Snow, and the king takes a new wife. Now, the reason this was changed is because the Grimms saw that their collection was somewhat popular with families, and, not wanting to frighten little children, they split the one queen into two separate queen characters. This is because the queen is evil, and the Grimms didn't think it was a good idea to portray a character's own mother as evil.

(Ironically, this has just enforced a well-known stereotype in fairy tales; evil stepmothers. I've actually heard kids that have had fairy tales read to them that they are afraid of stepmothers. I guess folk tales will never be perfect.)

Now, of course, we come to the well known point of the story, where the queen goes to her mirror, and asks it who the most beautiful person in the country is. Of course, the mirror always says the queen is the most beautiful. But then, one day, it says that Snow White is now the most beautiful.

Yeah, of course this queen is angry. So angry, that she wants to kill Snow. It makes me wonder if the queen ever had any other people put to death before this happened, because she wanted to be the most beautiful.

Now, I just have to point out here that Snow is only seven years old at the time of this story. So what we basically have here is a grown woman wanting to have an innocent little girl put to death just because she's more beautiful than she is. Now THAT'S evil!

But, nevertheless, she does attempt to have her killed. She gets the hunter of the kingdom to take Snow into the forest and cut her lungs and liver out of her, bringing them back with him. She also wants to eat Snow's organs. So I guess she needs to eat Snow in order to believe that she's dead (anyone who can explain that to me, please do).

Of course, if Snow died this early on, the story would have to end there. So of course it has to turn out that the hunter is a coward. He sees how beautiful she is and backs out of it, abandoning her in the forest to get eaten by wolves instead. He brings the queen hog organs to eat instead, claiming that he got them from Snow.

Of course, Snow manages to find shelter before any wolves can get to her. She finds a small cottage, and (in a point of the story that's so similar to "Three Bears" that it makes me wonder if the two stories have some kind of connection) enters it, eating from the plates, sitting in the chairs, and sleeping in one of the beds.

The owners of the house, seven dwarfs, come home to find that someone has broken in, and find Snow laying in one of the beds. Instead of waking her up and scaring her away (like the bears did), the dwarfs leave her there to wake up the next morning, and resort to the most ridiculous method ever so that they all still have beds to sleep in. The seventh dwarf has to share a bed with one of the dwarfs for each hour, changing which bed he sleeps in once the hour is up (did all the dwarfs want him to share their own bed or something, and couldn't agree on which dwarf should be the one?)

Okay, this is getting pretty long. I'll continue talking about this story in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most common reasons or ritualistic cannibalism is the belief that positive traits, like strength or virility, of the person one eats will be transferred to oneself. There is no definite proof of the practice in Central Europe (it is hard to prove or disprove things that supposedly took place before the invention of writing), but the relative frequency of cannibalism in folklore seems to suggest that the belief might have existed at one time. When Snow White's (step)mother wants to eat parts of her body, she might be hoping that she will gain Snow White's youth and/or beauty by doing so.