“Snow White” Discussion Part 1

The original Brothers Grimm “Snow White” has the worst love at first sight trash ever! For those of you who are not familiar with this version, listen to this: At the end of “Snow White,” the prince, unlike the prince in “Sleeping Beauty,” does not kiss her to wake her up, nor does he know he needs to. He doesn’t even know she’s alive! Nope, this creepy guy sees Snow White lying in her coffin and, like the dwarfs, believes she’s dead. Nonetheless, he is so mesmerized by her beauty that he wants to buy the coffin, princess in all, just so he can gaze at her all day. Okay, so this prince doesn’t even think of Snow White as a human! To him she is an object to carry off and look at! I am sorry to say Sheldon Cashdan does not adequately acknowledge how creepy this is in The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives He acknowledges that it happens, all right:

Bedazzled by Snow White’s beauty, the prince wants to marry her and is apparently willing to overlook the fact that she is dead. He suspects that his parents will not be overjoyed at the prospect of a lifeless daughter-in-law, but that does not deter him. All he wants is to possess Snow White, or, more accurately, her beauty. He persuades the dwarfs to give him the princess and sets out for his father’s palace, where he intends to places her on display (Cashdan, 59).

Whew! How can say that and follow it with nothing more then “To everyone’s lasting relief, one of the servants stumbles on the way to the palace and drops the coffin. The poison apple flies from Snow White’s throat, and she wakens” (Cashdan, 59). He seriously says nothing about how wrong it is for the prince to simply want to “possess [Snow White’s] beauty.” And no, I would argue that the servant stumbling and dropping the coffin is not “to everyone’s lasting relief.” If Snow White had any sense, waking up might be a relief to her at the moment, but not once she discovers that she is at the hands of a prince who wants her, dead or alive, to simply be something to look upon in his palace. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t seem to bother her in the slightest, since she agrees to marry him. If I were her, I would call for the dwarfs to get me away from this guy!

Contrast this with the Disney version. In this version, at least, the “I’m Wishing” and “One Song” sequence makes it clear that Snow White and Prince Charming love each other at the beginning of the story. How long we don’t know, and the song actually suggests that she loved him beforehand, but doesn’t know until this sequence that he loves her. For that reason, who’s to say that she hadn’t just been gazing at him from a distance without really getting to know him, and just randomly found out that he miraculously loves her back, even though they’ve never really met? I wouldn’t expect much more from a Disney princess movie, least of all the first one, but this movie at least gives us room to believe that they had been courting before the onset of the movie.

In addition, “Snow White” has a good reason why she and the prince weren’t together for most of the movie: She was hiding in the dwarfs’ cottage and couldn’t let anyone know where she was, not even her prince, whom the Queen could have easily tortured information out of. I have already talked about what’s wrong with the romance in “Sleeping Beauty,” but if Cinderella and her prince had loved each other before the onset of the movie, her living with her stepmother would not have necessarily stopped them from seeing each other. That’s why I think nobody has an excuse to include love at first sight trash in “Cinderella.” Both this and the fact that Snow White and the prince loved each other from the very beginning are aspects “Snow White” has over “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” and even “The Little Mermaid.” I will discuss “Cinderella” soon, but for now suffice it to know that I hate it, specifically Perrault’s version. I will also discuss “The Little Mermaid” sometime in the future. For now, suffice that to know that it, too, has love at first sight problems.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fairy Tale Discussions, Snow White

One response to ““Snow White” Discussion Part 1

  1. The myth of love at first sight has been the ruin of so many relationships, as has the expectation of eternal castles and rose-layered romance. From early on, children love to love, and girls especially, IMO, are vulnerable to these messages. We want a prince to find us and save us, never knowing we are capable of saving ourselves with help from the little people.

    At the same time, the Disney princesses perpetuate the image of “perfect beauty,” selling the Barbie look which has contributed to all kinds of self-esteem issues in girls, as Ken has done with boys. But since it is mostly girls who love the Disney princesses, they are more susceptible to taking on unnecessary burdens at an early age, making movies like Shrek truly a breath of fresh air, appealing to both genders and all ages.

    As far as Brothers Grimm…well, they truly lived up to their name, but they didn’t invent the objectification of women. Sci-fi writer Sheri S. Tepper turns traditional tales on their heads when Beauty decides it is unfair to keep her true love in the prison of a coffin for the sake of her needs.

    Thanks so much for these amazing posts that make us re-think life!

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