Through my many travels in literature and writing, I developed a project that examined fairy tale heroines from some of the most well known stories, including Snow White, or as the Brothers Grimm titled her, “Little Snow White.”
The Grimm version tends to be a bit darker than the Disney one many of us encountered on film, but the general theme remains the same: wicked stepmother is jealous of step daughter’s radiant beauty and tries to kill her off. Sometime soon we’ll discuss another way to look at the stepmother but not today.
The “old woman is evil, the young beautiful (and docile) woman is worthy of being loved” is a common motif with so many useful and rich themes in it, there’s no way to capture that all here. I just want to carve a bit off of it.
Today’s reflection is that Snow White is quite nearly a non-person in all versions of the story I have come across. She has no kind of judgment at all.
Yes, she is young. We have some sympathy for her, sure. She was minding her own business, and then her stepmother had her taken to the woods to be killed. Not cool.
However, after she was safely rescued by the dwarves, and they told her “for crying out loud, do not answer the door,” she keeps answering the door for her murdering rival.
A pretty ribbon to tie up your corset? Sure! Suffocated by corset and dead.
A lovely (poisoned) comb for your hair? Sure, why not.
A beautiful delicious apple? Well, you know I got killed twice already
photo: aloha-mermaid on deviant art
But that apple looks nice so I suppose….
The only direction she gets is from the dwarves and even that direction, she does not follow.
After a somewhat disturbing scene in which a prince is desperate to purchase her body in its glass casket (creepy and filled with subtext), she’s delivered from death by accident.
The prince declares that loves loves loves her! (Bear in mind, she’s been dead their whole acquaintance)
Because she was chosen by a prince while she was prettily dead, she gets to be the queen. Happily ever after.
She did not even need to be *alive* as long as she was beautiful. That’s messed up, and it demonstrates what folklore taught girls about their role in life, what love is, and why following the rules of the men is best.
If girls really mess up, they may yet be rescued by a prince…if they’re pretty enough.
But time has passed. One cannot simply be dead and pretty if they want the crown.
Sovereignty involves the ability to reason through hard moments. In our lives, perhaps someone wants to undermine us at work, or sow dissension in our relationship, or generally make us feel terrible, verbally abuse us, and turn it around to make it seem our fault.
All kinds of nastiness happens in daily life. And let’s be honest-sometimes we are unkind to ourselves and we don’t need a villain.
Doesn’t matter if we’re pretty. No one is going to hand us our own personal power, while we lay around functionally dead or inactive.
Take advice, sure. Always accept wise counsel and consider it. Also, don’t get me wrong; if someone rushes in when you need help, don’t let that resource just pass by. Building allies is good. Waiting for rescue is not.
Be ready to kick down the evil queen’s door and run her out. Be ready to slap the poison apple out of the enemy’s hand and say, “nope.” You’re probably going to have to do it yourself, and when you’re done, put another jewel from the shadows in your crown. You earned it.