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Little Snow White
vendredi 25 avril 2014
Schneewittchen or Little Snow White is my favourite Grimm fairytale. As much as I love Disney's version of the tale, I still prefer the fairytale that was read to me when I was a child, especially because it's actually much longer than Disney's version and much darker on many levels.

- Illustration by sizh -

Plot variations
In Disney's version and in Grimm's most known version of the tale, Snow-White's main antagonist is her stepmother as her birthmother died in childbirth. But in Grimm's first edition of the tale, it's actually Snow White's mother who's jealous of her own's daughter beauty and youth and tries to take her down by having her killed and eating her heart in order to steal her youth and beauty.

Most of the time, only one of the many means used by Snow White's mother/stepmother is known: the famous poison apple. But the wicked queen actually used several means to have Snow White killed before the final apple trick. Let's list them in order:
- The stay-laces: the queen disguises herself as an old pedler-woman selling stay-ribbons. Little Snow White upon seeing the pretty ribbons, lets the disguised queen enter the dwarves' cottage and also lets her lace her corset/stay properly. Upon doing so, the wicked queen ties Snow White's stays so tightly that it suffocates her. But the dwarves free Snow White by cutting the laces and she's alive again.
- The poisoned comb: the queen disguises herself again and goes to Snow White, handling her a such a beautiful comb that little Snow White cannot resist and decides she has to have a closer look at that comb and she lets the queen in and lets her comb her hair. But as soon as the queen had put the comb in Snow White's hair that the poison took effect and she fell as if dead. But the dwarves remove the comb from Snow White's hair and she's alive again.
- The poison apple: the famous one... You know what happened then. But it's not the prince's kiss who relived her. The dwarves did not have the heart to burry Snow White as she was still looking very beautiful and as if still alive. So they kept her in a glass coffin. And a prince going through the forest stumbled upon the coffin and fell in love with what appeared to be a corpse (yes that's disturbing...) and begged the dwarves to let him Snow White to his castle. He begged so much that the dwarves agreed and the prince had his servants carry her on their shoulders. But they stumbled on a tree stump and by doing so, the poisonous apple bite which was stuck into Snow White's throat came out and so she was alive again.

As a punishment for being so cruel to her, Snow White, now queen had red hot iron slippers cast especially for her mother/stepmother and when the wicked queen came to the wedding, she was forced to wear these slippers and dance until she dropped dead. So much for an innocent and kind little princess...

Interpretations and adaptations of the tale
The fact that in most folk-tale versions of this tale, it's Snow White's own mother who wants her dead is meaningful because as Bruno Bettelheim states, Snow White states the "classic" mother/daughter conflict and is kind of cathartic for the child when he discovers the cruel destiny of the wicked queen.

To my greatest delight, many writers and artists were inspired by this famous tale. My favourite modern take on this tale would be Neil Gaiman's Snow, glass, apples which artfuly mixes several genres: vampire stories, fantasy and fairytale materials and is told from Snow White's stpemother's point of view and where the evil one might not be the one you think of. Angela Carter also included several short stories inspired by Snow White in The Bloody Chamber.

Mangaka were also inspired by Snow White. My favourte manga adaptation sure is Yuki Kaori's first chapter of Ludwig Kakumei. It might not please everyone but if you enjoy Yuki Kaori's wicked stories, you'll probably like it. It shares many aspects of Gaiman's take on the tale. Snow White also has a chapter in Dictatorial grimoire by Kanou Ayumi.

Snow White's story has been adapted for cinema several times as well. The most recent releases being "Mirror Mirror" - which is pretty funny and tongue in cheek, with a dash of Bollywood drama (see for yourself here) - and "Snow White and the huntsman" - which I actually did not like at all for so many reasons I should just stop here otherwise this post would turn into a looong rant -.

Snow White in lolita
Snow White is also quite a popular fairytale in the lolita world as the tale has been used on many prints or photoshoots in various magazines already. Baby the Stars Shine Bright seems to especially like this fairytale as they've been releasing several Snow White prints over the years (1 - 2 - 3 - 4).

- Victorian Maiden, Innocent World, Baby the Stars Shine Bright -

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