This post will be somewhat different than my other dissections because I have to keep in mind that Disney’s Snow White was released in 1937, which is a dozen years before the 1950s housewife because the feminine ideal. And in my mind, Snow White is little more than a glorified housewife.
Everyone should know the story. It’s based on a Brothers Grimm fairy-tale, and Disney made it more kid-friendly: beautiful queen, outshone by her step-daughter orders a huntsman to kill her in the woods. When we are introduced to Snow White, the first and only thing on her mind is how much she wants to fall in love with her OMGSHINYTRUELOVE. And maybe he’ll be a prince. That would be the BEST THING EVER because even though she’s a princess, her step-mother is a total bee-yatch that dresses her in rags and makes her do domestic stuff like wash the steps.So you get it. Snow White is totally boy crazy.
Then the pervy prince comes along and spies on her from beyond the castle walls. He’s totally a Creepy McCreeperson and sneaks up on her. I don’t blame her to running away and closing the door: she’s certainly smarter than a lot of YA heroines who would go OMGSHINYTRUELOVBOI!!! And want to get married right away. At least Snow White has the decency to be alarmed that some guy stalked her and then scared the crap out of her.
I also have to add that the queen might have been a lot more beautiful if she’d uncovered her hair. Long healthy hair on a woman has long been a sign of fertility and youth. (I’ve just spent the last hour reading about hair length on Wikipedia… sigh this post will NEVER get done).
The huntsman takes pity on the princess because of her innocence and beauty and lets her go, taking back a pig’s heart as evidence of her murder. Snow White does nothing except scream and cover her face. Then when she runs into the forest she starts hallucinating from the fear and stress of everything. I said to my hubs (who is patiently watching Disney with me, bless him) “I hope she doesn’t just faint!” but luckily, she only collapses in a heap sobbing her poor little broken heart.
Snow White, with the help of her woodland animals friends (which I can only assume are friendly to her because she is so beautiful and innocent?) stumbles upon a little house that she thinks belongs to orphaned children, cleans it with the help of her animals friends, and cooks supper. She immediately takes on the role of the mother she thinks the orphans are lacking, much like Wendy in Peter Pan (which we shall address in a later blog post).
The dwarves, when they return home from their mining, think that a monster has taken up residence and prepare to kill her. They bully Dopey into investigating. When I told my hubs the dwarves were just bullies (after forcing Grumpy to have a bath) he said, “It’s just a bloke thing. If all of them have to suffer, one’s not going to get away with it.” When they discover she is not only a beautiful young woman but their princess as well, and the Queen wants her dead, they allow her to stay in their house and basically become their mother – cook, clean, sew, sweep. Do all their housework that they suck at because they work all day, Right? They take pity on her because she is young, beautiful, and innocent. By the way, Grumpy is most definitely my favourite: he’s a realist and he tells it like it is. He mutters about women’s wiles and stuff. Ha ha.
The queen finds out Snow White is still alive when her truth-mirror tells her exactly where she is. To disguise herself, she changes her appearance and her voice into that of an ugly old crone. I hope she planned on turning herself back. I can’t even say anything like Disney is presenting ugly people as evil because the Queen was originally very beautiful on the outside, just consumed with envy and jealousy at Snow White’s beauty and innocence. Perhaps that’s what made Snow White so beautiful: she was pure inside and out, and the Queen was all twisted up in her own vanity.
Anyway, she gives Snow White a poisoned apple, telling her it is a wishing-apple. Snow White wishes for her true love to come to her, takes a bite, and falls into a deathly sleep. The dwarves arrive home to chase away the queen who falls to her death (in typical Disney style, although this is the first instance of it, it is a trope widely repeated because it allows children to put two and two together and realise the villain is no longer a threat). They place Snow White in a glass coffin so they can still perve on her beauty and then the prince comes along and kisses her (necrophilia, anyone?) and she comes back to life and he takes her away to live in his castle, which is what she’s always wanted and wished for. But… like… why the fuck would anyone want to kiss a corpse?!