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A Summary and Analysis of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’

The meaning of a classic fairy tale

Blood wishes, talking mirrors, and poisoned fruit: it’s all here in ‘Snow White’, one of the most enduringly popular and recognisable fairy tales in western literature. Yet what is the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs really about? Does it have a moral? And what are the fairy tale’s origins? Closer analysis of the Snow White story reveals a hideous and gruesome tale which Disney had to sanitise to make it palatable for family audiences.

First, a brief summary of the Snow White story. One day, a queen sat working at a window with an ebony frame, with the snow falling outside. She pricked her finger (presumably she was sewing or knitting, though her precise occupation, other than ‘queen’, is not usually stated), and, watching the drops of blood, she made a wish that her little daughter would grow up to be as white as snow, as red as her blood, and as black as the ebony window frame. And sure enough, the queen’s daughter grew up to have snow-white skin, cheeks as red as her mother’s blood, and hair as black as ebony.

When the queen died shortly after this, the king remarried a vain woman who became Snow White’s stepmother. This stepmother liked to look in her magical looking-glass and ask it who was the fairest in the land, to which the obliging mirror would always return the answer, ‘You, queen.’ Except that one day, Read the rest of this entry