Sunday, 20 March 2011

The tale of Snow White or How I learned to stop worrying and love the dwarves

An investigation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs[1]


I've a chilling question for you out there in the wilds of the Internet.  What if you were pretty?  So pretty as to be called beautiful?  In fact what if you were, the fairest in the land? The star of tonights story is afflicted with unwholesome fairness and this attracts exactly the wrong kind of attention.

The Story:
Snow white is the tale of a princess who has an evil stepmother. The stepmother asks a magic mirror who the most beautiful person in the land is and when the mirror says that it is Snow White [2]  the queen orders a servant to kill her.
The servant takes her into the woods but can't bring himself to kill Snow White and depending on which version it's because she is so beautiful or simply that his courage fails him.
Snow White eventually comes across the house of the seven dwarfs and breaks in[3] being kindly fellows they agree to take her in and for a time all is well.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, the servant has brought the evil stepmother the heart of a deer and she takes it believing it to be Snow Whites. The illusion is quickly shattered when she asks the magic mirror who the fairest in the land is and the mirror not only tells her that is still Snow White but also that she's in the forest living with the dwarfs.
The stepmother wastes no time in disguising herself as an old peasant woman and bringing the famous poisoned apple to Snow White. The apple is eaten and she falls down dead. The evil Stepmother goes home[4] and everyone is happy, except for the dwarfs[5] who build a coffin of crystal to hold the body

Enter the prince! The dwarfs find him by the coffin one day and they give him the lowdown re Snow White, evil stepmother, poisoned apple et al. He kisses her and brings her back to life with the power of magic [6].
The children who hear this as a bedtime story probably shouldn't know about necrophilia until they are a little older.

Naturally it is love [7] at first sight and the pair go back to his castle, leaving the dwarfs alone in the forest again.

So after having read all this here is the part that I don't get. Snow White is a princess and to be a princess at least one of your parents needs to be royalty. It can't have been the Evil Stepmother because she doesn't have time to run a kingdom, what with looking in mirrors and killing the pretty people all day. By process of elimination then her father must have been the king.

  • Where is the king while everything is going down?
    Is he so disinterested in his daughter that he isn't concerned enough to note that a princess of the realm is being forced to do servants work [8]
    Assuming, of course, that he is even there and given the fact that his wife is free to kill anyone that is prettier than her it's a good bet that he's left her in charge while he goes off to fight the Unicorn People.

  • Why does the stepmother take such a roundabout way of getting rid of her problem? [9]
    Right off the top of my head I can think of several ways to dispatch Snow White without leaving any evidence[10]
    • Push her down a well. Easy enough to arrange and when the body is eventually discovered I would be suitably sad for an appropriate amount of time.
    • Stab her in the back when nobodies looking. This gives the added pleasure of dealing with my problems myself and also gives the royal guardsmen the opportunity to run around hunting for “the killer”[11]
    • Hire a professional. Rather than taking the cheap way out and having the servant and potential witness take her out into the woods and kill Snow White I will hire a professional assassin to do the job quickly and quietly. I will not attempt to kill him once he's done the job because pissing off assassins is never a smart thing to do. However to be on the safe side I will request that he remove the head and place it on a spike so that everyone can see that I am the prettiest.
    • Character assassination. So I've just found out that Snow White, an unmarried girl, is living with seven dwarfs, also unmarried [12]. Rather than muck around with apples and disguises I arrange a formal tea party with the biggest gossips in the castle where we talk about this, that and the other, after a while any reputation that Snow White had will be completely destroyed.

      I'll admit that this may not be as satisfying as murdering her viciously in the middle of the night but there is no body to dispose of and if anyone ever finds out what I've done the worst they can do is say “You're a meanie”[13]

  • Of course this all presumes that I care about getting caught. I could easily just stab her in the face over and over while the court looks on and I dance in her blood screaming “Who's the prettiest now bitch!”
    Really what are the court going to do about it? I'm the queen and going to stay that way, anyone who protests will be rounded up by my guards and horribly tortured until they stop[14]. If I have to I'll make up a story about how she was in league with the Unicorn People but otherwise I'll have gotten away with it.

Loose Ends:

  • The servant: In some versions of the story this is a huntsmen. Whatever his resume says we are never actually told what happens to him after the evil Stepmother discovers that Snow White is still alive. Presumably he went off to fight in the Unicorn wars.

  • The evil stepmother: What did she do after the prince took Snow White to his castle? Did she ever consult the mirror again? Perhaps this led to a revelation about beauty and she changed her ways[15].

  • The dwarfs: Left back in the forest. Really, no reward, no titles no nothing. Obviously they weren't expecting anything but some gesture would have been nice.

  • The poisoned apple: In some tellings the apple lodges in her throat and doesn't kill her. The kiss of the prince at the end dislodges the piece of apple which means he must have used some heavy tongue action.

  • The magic mirror: Strikes me as less of a magic mirror than someone standing behind a curtain doing a silly voice and trying to make trouble [16].


  1. Or Dwarves or midgets or simply vertically challenged individuals.
  2. Or any other person in the land.
  3. She absolutely does. And when they get home they aren't mad! Proving the moral of the store to be “You can get away with anything if you're pretty” rather than “Don't take things from strangers”.
  4. Probably doing a little dance and maybe a song, but singing about how you've just killed someone because they were prettier than you might lead to suspicion being directed your way. Better to just leave it at a little dance.
  5. And Snow White, but she's dead and thus her opinion no longer matters as much
  6. Or love, hell in another hundred years he'll probably bring her back with stimulants and genetic modifiers. Take your pick, it's a tale as old as time
  7. Wuv, twue wuv.
  8. She's being worked like a servant in the Disney version of the tale. I'll allow that not all tellings have her working like a servant but it goes without saying that she wasn't having the most fun time in her life before all this happened.
  9. A problem that could have being solved by the magic mirror saying “First define beauty”
  10. Although I might leave some DNA behind I shall counter this by underfunding the royal forensics department and making sure their equipment doesn't work.
  11. It will also give me the opportunity to get rid of any political enemies or other people I think are prettier than me. If one of the guardsmen is clever enough to work it out then I will either promote him to the point where he forgets about it or have him fired and discredited.
  12. It doesn't matter that nothing is going on. What matters is that it might be.
  13. Which I can live with while I download their tortured screams to my I pod.
  14. Either protesting or living. It's important for people to know that they have a choice.
  15. Maybe the whole thing was a ruse, thanks to the magic mirror she knew what would happen and with Snow White gone to live with her prince in another region she can now be the fairest in the land again. Until she asks the mirror if she is the fairest in the Tri-kingdom area at which point it all starts up again.
  16. Possibly in the pay of the Unicorn People. We'll never know.

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