Brief History: Snow White is the story most people know about the beautiful girl (who was only seven years old in the Grimm version, by the way) experiences attempted murder multiple times by the hand of family member and is rescued by miners. This story is not found as often in other cultures as Cinderella, although there are versions within Eastern European folktales. The Roman story of Chione has similarities, but is also riddled with rape and forced tongue piercings. Some say Snow White was inspired by real wealthy young women who died “mysteriously” so others could take control of their land and mines. I would also like to point out that in the earliest versions the prince does not save the young beauty with a kiss. Someone drops the glass casket and she coughs out the poisoned apple.
Analysis: As a kid, I used to wonder how Snow White could be so dumb. Her stepmother manages to trick her with different variations of the same trick three times. THREE TIMES! But at the same time, I don’t know what her life was like. Maybe she was alone every day in that dwarf house for years and was desperate for the company, even if that company might stab her scalp with a poison comb. Maybe she had lots of peddlers come by the cottage and the evil queen showing up multiple times was simply another person in a weekly routine of solicitors. I did like that her true heroes were the seven little people who probably did not know how to raise a child. So that makes them doubly heroes – once for keeping her safe and again for dealing with her through puberty. As for her marrying a man she never met just because he dropped her casket, I admit I’d do almost anything to not have to hand-wash seven pairs of underwear every day.
Blame it on the Victorians: Originally, when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story down, Snow White’s nemesis was not a jealous stepmother, but the very woman who had given birth to her. Even the Grimm boys thought that having her mom order little Snow’s lungs and liver cooked into a stew was too dark. And thus begins the myth of the evil step-mother. Victorians seemed weirdly okay with this, despite that so many children grew up with stepmoms due to the high death rate caused by childbirth. First wife dies and you don’t want to raise the kids – marry another women. As for the Victorian’s view of little people, well… Most illustrators drew the dwarfs as ordinary men with long beards. Yet, there were a few, most notably from the Victorian era who chose to draw them more like hobgoblins or gnomes; fanciful or comical. Circuses of the day were partially to blame. It was difficult for little people to be widely accepted in Victorian society and some chose to be the stars of freak shows. P.T. Barnum’s young actor, known as General Tom Thumb, made bank allowing people to ogle him. Because, again, the Victorians were swell.
Last thoughts: An apple a day. . . is almost the set-up for the perfect crime.
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