Last week I blogged about my lack of enthusiasm for Snow White. This week though, I have changed my mind about the girl. Prior to reading the comic Fables, I had never liked the character of Snow White. She is always made out to be a stereotypical female whose talents include cleaning, cooking, and occasionally combat when it is necessary for her to prove herself. Her story has been changed many times, adapted and reworked to make her into someone new, but despite these changes I was never really fond of her. That is, until now. In the graphic novel Fables, Snow White is smart, witty, and professional. Elements of the comic keep her true to her original fairy tale character, but she is also kind of a badass bitch. She is the person who keeps the underground fable community running. Despite the fact that there is a mayor who is the face of the community, Snow White is the one calling the shots. We see in the very first scene where she is dealing with the issues of Beauty and the Beast that she has the final say in the fable world and that she is not to be messed with. We later find out that she divorced Prince Charming when she found him in bed with her younger sister. She knows what she is worth and leaves him to stand on her own as a strong and independent woman. She does not have to prove herself by fighting off enemies; she is clearly intelligent and capable. Although she does have a budding romance with Wolf, she does not need a man in her life. She does get emotional when she thinks her sister is dead and she is more than willing to get dolled up in a sexy dress from the Remembrance Day Function. She possesses feminine qualities that the original Snow White had: she is beautiful, caring, and capable of love. However, these are not the traits that define her. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to ever like Snow White, but Fables proved me wrong.
Prior to this week’s discussion, I had never really thought much about the story of Snow White. Sure, I had the 1937 Disney version on VHS, but growing up the film was far from my favorite. I had seen the 2012 version of the story, Snow White and the Huntsmen, but besides the fact that I noticed major differences from the Disney rendition, I didn’t really think too much of the film. It was not until we read the original story by the brothers Grimm that I finally began to notice how creepy this fairy tale actually is. Perhaps I was desensitized by the countless other fairy tale stories that I had heard which also involved evil stepmothers, absent fathers, eerie forests, and so on, but when I come to think of it now, the story of Snow White is pretty disturbing no matter the version. The basis of the tale is that a young and beautiful girl is nearly killed by the mother figure in her life in many unsettling ways due to the fact that she is jealous of her daughter’s beauty. There is also some use of a poisonous apple. While each version may have some variation, this general plotline and apple usage can be found in the Grimm original, the Disney version, the Huntsmen and Mirror Mirror. The original version, written in 1812, had Snow White’s actual mother asking for her organs served on a platter with salt. A later version, written in 1857, had the villain as stepmother rather than birth mother, which was a detail that has been since found in other versions, probably because it was slightly less disconcerting to audiences. The Disney version added cheerful songs and lessons (such as the fun one can have while completing household chores!) to the plot, but under this Disney-fied façade, the story is still frightening. And while the newest versions, Mirror Mirror and Huntsmen, had Snow White as our fearless heroine, this did not distract from the fact that this fairy tale is creepy. No matter the version or the additions to the plot, this fairy tale is messed up and I am unsure as to why we classify it as a children’s story.