Perhaps the most distorted of all the Grimm's fairy-tales is Snow White. The movie version of Snow White was one of the first full-length animated films ever created. Unfortunately, almost half of the original story was completely left out!
Another Evil Stepmother
We all know Snow White was a beautiful young girl with a wicked and vain stepmother. The queen would sit at her mirror and ask about her own beauty. When she learned that Snow White had grown to be the most beautiful in the land, the evil queen was furious. According to the Brothers Grimm, Snow White was only eight years old at the time.
The evil stepmother then decides the only solution is to have a huntsman take Snow White away and kill her. Of course, the huntsman can't do it and brings back a wild pig's heart instead. In the older version of the tale, the evil queen then pickles and eats the heart thinking she has eaten the heart of Snow White. Lovely.
The Little Men
Snow White wanders in the forest and finds a little home that is perfectly clean. Yes, the movie had it all wrong. Snow White makes herself at home and the dwarves accept her right away. Her job is to keep things neat and tidy while they work in the mine all day. In return, they will be sure she never wants for anything.
In Hot Pursuit
The stepmother quickly discovers Snow White is still alive and sets off to deal with her death once and for all. Here the movie quickly falls away from the original story. In the time of the original story, all the women and girls wore stays or corsets. The evil queen disguises herself as a peddler and goes to the dwarfs' house. She offers Snow White beautiful stay laces and when Snow White accepts, the queen-in-disguise offers to lace Snow White's stays. She, of course, laces them too tightly and Snow White passes out.
When the dwarves come home, they find Snow White unconscious, but are able to cut the laces and wake Snow White up. They warn her that the peddler was the queen in disguise and not to let her in the house again.
Appealing to Vanity
The queen tries her little trick again, but this time with a poisoned comb. Snow White tries to be good and keep the peddler/stepmother out, but is drawn in by the beautiful comb. The evil peddler woman offers to comb Snow White's hair with it, and like a ninny, Snow White agrees. Of course, the poison works immediately and Snow White falls down, seemingly dead.
Fortunately for Snow White, the dwarves come home almost immediately after this and wake her up by removing the comb. They scold her and tell her to not be fooled again.
Naturally, the queen finds out Snow White is STILL alive, so she tries one last evil deed. She poisons one side of a beautiful apple and visits Snow White for a third time. Snow White, who is obviously not the sharpest mind around, agrees to share the apple with the old woman. Snow White gets the poisoned side. One bite later, Snow White is on the floor, not breathing.
This time, when the dwarves come home, they are unable to see why Snow White is dead. They mourn her for three days and finally create a glass coffin for her so they can look at her beauty that even death didn't diminish. She lies in the coffin for a long time until a prince happens to spend the night with the dwarves as part of his journey. The prince sees the young Snow White and decides he must have her Ė literally. He convinces the dwarves to let him have the glass coffin and its dead occupant.
As the prince's servants are carrying Snow White's coffin away, they trip over a tree root. This jars Snow White and makes the apple fall out of her mouth.
She opens the lid of the coffin and tries to figure out what is going on. The prince is thrilled that his dead beauty is now alive and takes her away to marry. (One would hope she slept for years since she was only eight to begin with.)
In true fashion, the old tale does not end here. After their wedding, Snow White and her prince throw a huge party. The old stepmother happens to ask her magic mirror who is the most beautiful and is shocked to hear that the new queen is more beautiful than she is. She considers staying home and pouting, but decides to check out the competition herself.
Unfortunately for the old queen, Snow White was expecting her. Iron shoes had been heated in the fire until they were red hot. The wicked stepmother was forced to put the shoes on and dance until she fell down dead. Let's hope this style of dance was not typical at wedding celebrations of the time.
There are almost too many lessons to count in this particular tale. The most obvious is the danger of vanity as demonstrated by both the queen and Snow White. It's also pretty clear that not following the instructions of your elders, in this case, the dwarves, is bad for your overall health. Finally, Snow White takes a pretty big hit for being just plain stupid. After all, most girls would figure the peddler woman out after the first murder attempt. At least, I hope they would.