Envy, Beauty, and Snow White
Few people can grow up within today's society without knowing the tale of Snow White. From the Grimm Brothers to Disney, it has been told and retold to children throughout the ages. However, what is often overlooked are the true meanings within the story. Fairytales typically have underlying messages that can be found written between the lines, generally in terms of the key themes. Snow White discusses the themes of envy and beauty, and shows how humans' obsessions can lead to their own downfall as well as the harm of others. When focusing on the relationship between Snow White and her step-mother the Queen, it is evident that the combination of these two themes results in a power struggle in which beauty is seen as a commodity and is the basis for the step-mother?s envy towards Snow White.
From the very beginning of the tale it is obvious that the Queen is obsessed with beauty, ?the King took another wife, a beautiful woman, but proud and overbearing, and she could not bear to be surpassed in beauty by anyone??(Grimm and Grimm 166). Further evidence of her narcissism is her daily ritual in which she consults her magic mirror on who is the most beautiful person in the kingdom. As she repeatedly expects the answer to be in her favor, she is outraged when it appears that Snow White has surpassed her. This information drives the Queen to hate Snow White and soon she orders her death. By looking at beauty as a commodity through which power can be gained, this action can be interpreted as a means for the Queen to preserve her power through beauty. The fact that Snow White was beautiful may not have been reason enough alone to kill her, but the fear that Snow White could use her beauty in order to usurp power from the Queen was. After all, Snow White was young and beautiful, and the Queen would only deteriorate with time. Trina Schart Hyman reiterates this point in her analysis of story, particularly in examining the Queen, where the ?only power was her beauty. She didn?t think about [Snow White] as a person. She hated only what Snow White symbolized, which was youth and the power and beauty of youth? (Haase, 2003).
It is interesting to note that when the Queen receives Snow White?s heart, she eats it. ?And [the heart] was salted and cooked and the wicked woman ate it up, thinking that there was an end of Snow White? (Grimm and Grimm 168). This is a remnant of a primitive cannibalistic belief that one receives power and characters through what is consumed. By devouring what she is told to be Snow White?s heart, the Queen believes she is capturing Snow White?s beauty and power within herself (Sale, 1979). These instances show that the Queen was driven to act by her envy of Snow White?s beauty, which was said to be more beautiful than her own. As she saw Snow White?s beauty as a threat to her own (and through it, her power), she saw the need to eliminate Snow White completely. In consuming Snow...