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Sneewittchen - Paul Hey

23. I will never buy an apple from peddlers plying their craft in remote places where the customer base could not possibly support a full-time merchant.

Once upon a time, a little girl was born that was exceptionally beautiful. Due to jealousy, a wicked witch wanted her dead. She ended up being raised in fosterage in the forest by magical midgets, but eventually the witch found a way to poison her and put her in a coma resistant to aging. Eventually, a charming prince showed up, kissed the girl and woke her up, and slew the evil witch.

But then, this article isn't about "Sleeping Beauty"...

A queen wishes for a child with lips as red as blood, hair as black as ebony, and skin as white as snow. She gets her wish and names the child Snow White, but promptly dies and is replaced by a Wicked Stepmother who prides herself on her great beauty. Every day the stepmother asks her magic mirror:


 "Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who is the Fairest of Them All [1]?"


And every day the mirror assures the queen that she was the most beautiful.

Snow White is a beautiful child, however, and when she turns seven, the mirror replies that she, and not the queen, is the fairest. The queen isn't having any of that, so she orders her faithful huntsman to cut out Snow White's heart and give it to her to eat. The huntsman has some trouble with this, so he lets Snow White go and gives the queen the heart of a boar instead.

After some time wandering in the woods, Snow White falls in with a bunch of dwarfs, who let her stay with them in exchange for doing the housework. The mirror tips the queen off to Snow White's continued existence, however, so she disguises herself as a peddler and makes three assassination attempts; firstly by pulling Snow White's corset-laces too tight, secondly by selling her a poisoned comb, and thirdly with a poisoned apple. After each attempt, the dwarfs come home to find Snow White unconscious. While they succeed in reviving her the first two times, the third has more sticking power, and they have to admit that she's dead for good.

She is too beautiful for them to bury her in good conscience, though, so they build a glass coffin and take turns keeping guard. Fortunately for everyone involved, she does not decay, but remains so fresh and beautiful that a passing prince just has to have her. The dwarfs are reluctant at first, but eventually let him take the glass coffin. Thanks to a clumsy servant, the coffin is jolted, dislodging the piece of apple and reviving Snow White. Apparently the prince likes her almost as much when she's awake, and they marry. Hopefully, she's a bit older than seven by now, but you never know.

The evil queen comes to their wedding and is forced to dance to death in red-hot iron shoes. Everyone else lives Happily Ever After.

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is one of the best known of the Grimms' stories, although it existed in numerous countries before being compiled into their Children's and Household Tales. It was one of the early victims of their bowdlerising edits; they changed the antagonist from Snow White's biological mother to a Wicked Stepmother.

Because of Snow White's rather unusual appearance and the disturbing psychological issues in the story, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is frequently subject to Grimmification or Darker and Edgier treatment. One such example is a 1997 horror version with Sigourney Weaver as the queen. There's also a 2001 version subtitled Fairest of Them All with Miranda Richardson as the queen and Kristin Kreuk as Snow White, and rainbow dwarves, named after the days of the week. Finally, let's not forget Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, and Apples", where we have a perspective flip that takes some of the more eerie parts of the story, and makes them much much worse. The latest movie version is from 2012 and it's named Snow White and the Huntsman: here Snow (Kristen Stewart), the Dwarves, the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and later the Prince Charming (Sam Claflin) must team up not just to protect Snow from her Wicked Stepmother Ravenna (Charlize Theron), but help her fulfill her role as The Chosen One.

By far the most well-known adaptation of this story is Disney's first full-length animated feature, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

Other adaptations have varied from Snow White and The Three Stooges to Prétear, which rewrites it as a Magical Girl Warrior show, the very loose Betty Boop adaptation entitled only as Snow White, four episodes of the anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (its tropes are here, by the way) and then there's Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs, which would be a side-splitter had not excessive Uncle Tomfoolery ruined it.

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and variations contain the following tropes:

  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Queen's eventual fate.
  • Death Faked for You: The hunter used the heart of a pig to fool the queen.
  • Disappeared Dad: Where was the king while the queen was off finding creative ways to kill his daughter? He must have stepped out of the fairytale for a bit.
    • The intro to the Walt Disney movie says he died. Some recalls that being changed presumably to explain that very problem (he apparently is still alive but extraordinarily inattentive in the fairy tale).
    • She's a girl, why should he care? Also, the Queen gives him sex, while his daughter does not (we hope)
    • Grimms' Fairy Tale Classics says that the King lives, but neglects Snow (who's raised by her nanny) because he's too busy running the kingdom.
  • Distressed Damsel
  • Don't touch it, you fools!! It might be poison!!
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma:
    • In the original tale, he doesn't kiss her. Instead, he falls in love with her beautiful corpse and takes it home. During the journey, the bit of apple in her throat is dislodged and she wakes up. There isn't the squick of him kissing someone he thought was dead, but it still raises some questions.
  • Extremely Dusty Home: The dwarfs home before she cleans it up.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
  • Evil Matriarch: The queen.
  • Fairy Tale
  • Fairest of Them All
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The evil stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot shoes until she dies.
  • Faux Death: Snow White. She got better.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Spurs the Queen on.
  • God Save Us From the Queen
  • Happily Ever After
  • Historical Fiction: Gregory Maguire's version called Mirror Mirror takes place in Italy, with Lucrezia Borgia as the wicked witch.
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: Poisonous!
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The queen eats what she thinks is Snow White's heart. Not her fault it was a cheap knockoff.
  • Lolicon: In some versions, Snow White is seven years old when she flees her stepmother and it's unlikely that she spend more than a year or two with dwarfs. So the Prince fits here in these versions.
  • Love At First Sight: If only she weren't comatose at the time.
  • Merciful Minion: The huntsman who refuses to kill Snow White and instead brings back the heart of a deer.
  • Mummies At the Dinner Table: The dwarfs can't bear to bury Snow, so they put her in a glass coffin (in some versions) or simply leave her lying on the bier (in others).
  • No Ontological Inertia: Everything the queen does to Snow White works this way. Stabbed by a poisoned comb? No problem! Just remove the comb and you'll be fine!
    • Justified in the case of the first attempt, which was a corset. It was tied so tight that she couldn't breathe, thus cutting it off in time saved her.
  • Offing the Offspring
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Perspective Flip:
    • The 2009 novel Fairest of All: A Novel of the Wicked Queen makes the Queen the protagonist, and in the process of giving her a backstory addresses such issues as what happened to Snow White's dad, the origin of the Magic Mirror, etc. The Queen becomes evil due to a combination of parental abuse that continues from beyond the grave and the death of the King, the only man who ever truly loved her, and it warps her view of Snow's beauty, innocence, and good nature.
    • There is also a short story ("Red as Blood" by Tanith Lee) that gives a different view on the matter: the Queen is actually a heroine who recognizes that the King's first wife (Snow White's mother) was a vampire. After trying several tests (seeing if Snow will go near a rose bush, look in a mirror, or take communion), the Queen determines that the princess is a vampire as well and sends a hunter with a cross to kill her before she reaches adulthood and goes off to kill people as her mother did. This does not go too well so the Queen disguises herself as a hag and gives Snow the apple (actually from the flesh of Jesus) which puts her into a coma. The "prince" (implied to be Jesus) wakes her up and turns her into a human girl. Oh, and the dwarves are stunted tree spirits in it.
    • "Snow, Glass, Apples", by Neil Gaiman, is also told from the perspective of the Queen, who came to realize that Snow White's father died because the little girl was sucking his blood (and other parts of him). The queen eventually succeeds in poisoning Snow White with the apple, but the prince who finds her is explicitly stated to be a necrophiliac who wants her because she's dead. The two marry and shut the stepmother up in an oven--did I mention the queen is narrating the story while being roasted alive?
  • Prince Charming
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Snow White traditionally has skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.
  • Rule of Three: The queen makes three assassination attempts in person before they pay off.
  • Vain Sorceress: The queen.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Was added in the Brothers Grimm version. In first editions, it was averted since the queen in those version's was actually Snow White's mother.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: The queen, and then Snow White.
  1. In the original German, the Queen asks, "Who is the fairest in the whole land?":
    „Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand,
    Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?
    The queen also uses a diminutive, „Spieglein“, when speaking to the mirror, as if calling it "Mirrory" or "Mirrorkins."