Friday, March 30, 2012

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Grimm brothers recorded a folktale about a beautiful maiden, a wicked stepmother, a magical talking mirror, seven fortunate Good Samaritans, and love. Most of us are familiar with the story, probably through Disney’s 1937 animated film that recounts Snow White’s journey from a princess forlorn to a princess restored. Allow me to review it, but if you wish to read the tale yourself, you may at fables/snowwhite.html.

Every day, a vain, selfish stepmother asks her mirror to affirm her beauty, and it does, assuring her that she is the loveliest in the land until Snow White grows into her beauty. Then the mirror, a thing that cannot tell a lie apparently, spits out Snow White’s name. The stepmother conspires to eliminate her competition. She bribes a servant to lead Snow White into the forest, where Nature’s verdant screens will hide his dark deed, the slaughter of an innocent.

The servant takes pity upon the girl and abandons her in the forest. She may be lost, but she has her life, and she survives her first night alone in a strange place. In the morning, she follows a path to an undersized home. Like Goldilocks, Snow White enters when no one is at home; unlike Goldilocks, Snow White does not take and break others’ belongings without remorse. Snow White has a good heart and good intentions. She cleans for the inhabitants and prepares a hot soup for them upon their return.

Her night and day in foreign places exhaust Snow. She falls asleep before the homeowners, seven dwarfs, return. They are pleased to find a clean home and a hot dinner so when they find Snow White, asleep upstairs, they are predisposed to like her, and when she tells them of her sorrows, they weep and profess instant love for her. They insist that she stay and live with them. They ask her not to admit anyone to the home or venture out so that she will be safe from harm.

The stepmother’s servant presents the wicked Queen with the heart of a deer, letting her believe that the heart is Snow White’s, but the mirror blurts out the truth soon enough. It announces that Snow White is still the loveliest in the land and where she can be found so the stepmother transforms an apple with poison and herself into an old crone.

In this disguise, with the means of Snow White’s destruction in hand, she crosses through a swamp, the most direct route, we’re told, into the forest and knocks on the dwarfs’ door. Snow White is true to the dwarfs’ advice; she does not admit the crone and doesn’t even open the door until the crone offers a parting token, one apple. Snow White opens the door to receive the apple, takes a bite, and succumbs. To onlookers, she appears dead and so upon the dwarfs' return, they place her in a crystal coffin and leave her in the forest.

The stepmother retraces her steps, becomes bogged down in the swamp, and is never seen again by anyone. Snow White lies in state until a Prince sees her. The dwarfs find him looking upon her longingly and accept his offer to let the Prince carry her to his kingdom in the hope that doctors there can restore her to health. He cannot resist kissing her though, a kiss that resurrects Snow White.

The two fall in love, both at first sight, and Snow White has a kingdom once more, this time shared with her beloved instead of a vain, envious woman. Still, Snow White cannot forgetthe dwarfs who cared for her .  She returns to visit them, further proving what a good heart she has.

The morals or themes of this tale should be easy for you to state by now for this story’s themes are similar to the others in this series.

·      From “Queen Bee:” Live well, devoid of cruelty, asking for nothing in return, and you may receive untold reward in exchange for a good, well-intentioned life. This could describe Snow White and the outcome in her life.
·      From “Goldilocks (or the Old Hag) and the Three Bears:” Respect the property and privacy of others to live amicably. Snow White may trespass without permission, but she gives the gifts of her time and labor to the dwarfs who reward her by giving her safe haven.
·      From “Rumplestiltskin:” Our own desires, especially if they cause harm to others, deliver even greater harm to ourselves.  The wicked stepmother should not desire the death of anyone, especially her stepdaughter’s. When the older woman’s vanity leads her to plot against poor Snow White, the one who loses her life is the stepmother. She drowns in a swamp, a setting just right for the stepmother’s fetid heart.
·      From “Rapunzel:” Be wary of giving in to cravings and whims for they may lead us to sorrow. The stepmother’s desire to be the loveliest in the land led directly to her death.
·      Also from “Rapunzel:” Love conquers all. Love’s first gesture, a kiss, overcomes death itself for the lovers to live together happily thereafter.
·      From “Cinderella:” Human beings have within them the power to shape their lives. The stepmother chooses vanity over all else, and this choice leads to her death. Snow White never chooses despair, bitterness, or sorrow; this leaves her heart and brow unmarked by Tragedy, and this choice leads to an everlasting love.

Reading Challenge:

Two new films about Snow White are due in theaters soon. The first, due June 1, 2012, is Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. You can read about it and watch at trailer at

The other is Mirror, Mirror, due March 30, 2012, stars Julia Roberts. Its trailer can be seen at

Writing Challenge:

The trailers of the two new film interpretations of the old fairy tale will provide you with plenty of ideas to write a brief commentary contrasting the two adaptations.

GUM (Grammar, Usage and Mechanics): Commonly Confused Words, Defuse and Diffuse

In Hurt Locker, soldiers in cumbersome, padded suits labor in the heat to defuse explosive devices so that they will also defuse the threat and tension, but not diffuse the suit, padding, and man over a wide area.

Defuse, with two e’s and one f, means to remove the fuse from a bomb or make a situation less tense and harmful.

Diffuse, with one i and two f’s, means to spread something, like the protective suit, its padding, and one man.