Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Snow White Ramble

This Playmobil Special representation of the wicked queen in Grimms' Snow White fairy tale is currently not in production. On eBay, the "buy it now" price is $25.00 USD. I don't need the dolly, but I sure do wish I had clothes like hers. If Playmobil made a line of goth figures, I would be tempted. Very tempted.

Speaking of Snow White, I hate the Disney version.* Snow White needs the following items in order to work for me:

1)The wicked queen demands the huntsman to bring back the lung and liver, not the heart of Snow White. The lung and liver represent the life-essence and spirit of Snow White. The heart is smoochy-sentimental.

2)When Snow White finds the dwarfs' house in the woods, it's quite meticulous and clean. Snow White gets to live with the dwarfs as long as she makes sure it stays clean. Dwarves are industrious beings, not slobs living in basements.

3)The wicked queen in disguise visits Snow White three times in three different guises. This is important. Most of us make mistakes in judging the character of other people without it making headline news. However, Snow White making that mistake three times brings to light some uncomfortable recognition of ourselves. (Maybe you're wiser than I am, but know I've believed the words of liars.)

4)After biting the poisoned apple, Snow White wakes from her coma after the prince's huntsmen stumble upon a rock, thus dislodging the bit of apple in Snow White's throat. There is no wake-up kiss. That's another fairy tale.

5)In the end, the wicked queen has to put on red-hot iron slippers and dance until she falls down dead. She does not get chased over a cliff by disgruntled forest animals. Where's the satisfaction in the Disney ending? Violence in fairy tales is not gratuitous, but it is just. As Anne Sexton writes,

"Beauty is a simple passion,
but, oh my friends, in the end
you will dance the fire dance in iron shoes."

You can read Anne Sexton's poem about Snow White in its entirety here. For those of you who say that you don't read poetry ("sissy stuff that rhymes" as Nigel Molesworth would say), Sexton refers to Snow White as a "dumb bunny." Are you yet convinced?

*Disney's Sleeping Beauty, which veers way off from all the other known variants, remains one of my guilty pleasures. I'm not sure why I make allowances for "Sleeping Beauty" that I don't for "Snow White," but I suspect Tchaikovsky's music has something to do with it.


Nonny said...

Extremely interesting stuff girl. I didn't know any of that. We only had the Disney collection of Fairy Tales so I always assumed it was the true version. I will have to check out the real story.

limpy99 said...

That's some hard-core fairy tale positions there. I'd hate to hear your take on those ungrateful little buggers Hansel & Gretel!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Are you kidding? I love Hansel and Gretel! A lot of these classic fairy tales are effective when done right (i.e. not bowdlerized): love, betrayal, revenge, justice, new world order. The phrases "a trail of stones" and "a trail of breadcrumbs" are icons in themselves.

Lone Star Ma said...

I prefer a number of those attributes but am not at all strict about it. I kind of wish fairy tales weren't so anti-mother, though - she's either dead or twisted and evil. Because, you know, children can't spread their wings with a smothery old mother around - cramps the magic and all. Which is true, i guess...I mean, we are so into keeping the little buggers alive and all.

I've sort of started a cycle of modern mother-guilt faery tale adaptations as sort of a take on how much guilt we absorb in the culture. I've only finished one - Hurting Cinderella. It's icky.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: Yeah, the mother is dead, or in the form of a step-mother (usually grumpy and jealous), but the father figure is often clueless and ineffectual. How often have children undergone abuse by one parent only to have the other parent not SEE it at all? Too often. If we're going to look for good parental figures in literature, it's never going to be in fairy tales. What we'll get instead is some version of the adult mentor, whether it be the old lady by the side of the road or the talking mouse.

Some of my favorite parents in literature are Ramona Quimby's parents and Anastasia Krupnick's parents. Both characters have to find their own ways eventually, but in the meantime, the parents are really, really cool.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

P.S. LSM: Is "Hurting Cinderella" in the reader stage yet?

Lone Star Ma said...

It is, but it's REALLY icky. I'll e-mail it if you like. Feeding Rapunzel and Hiding Beauty are still in the works.

I also like Betsy's parents in the Betsy-Tacy books - very progressive in their efforts to support the talents of heir daughters. And I like Marmee.