The fairy tale that Disney started it all with. I’m using the latest version of Snow White for this little breakdown.
Great Planning, Poor Execution
The queen seems to be quite clever with how she comes up with plans to dispatch Snow White; however, she never gets the execution right. She also forgets about verifying Snow White is even dead except through the use of the magic mirror. Her first attempt with the Huntsman required the organs to convince the queen Snow White was dead. Yet the plans with the laces, the comb, and the apple are all without any kind of tangible proof. Even though Snow White was at her complete mercy three different times, the queen was content to walk away and only ask the mirror.
The story gives no reasoning for this. If the first attempt hadn’t asked for drastic proof, we could simply analyze it as the Queen is hesitant to spill blood; as it is, though, we are left with the Queen’s poor execution of her plans as either inconsistent or once again a proof that Evil is Stupid, and must be so in order to provide a vehicle for “Happily Ever After.”
Women Are Property
I don’t agree with the idea, but the fairy tale is pretty clear on this when the prince offers to buy Snow White for any cost, moreso because that was his default tactic. Only after the dwarfs refuse does he ask for her. Furthermore, the dwarfs, instead of giving her a proper burial, put her behind glass and display her like a prized trophy. Before that, Snow White was a servant, and the language is vague enough that servant could just as equally mean slave (or serf) in that time period, despite her birth station as a princess.
Beauty above All
Clearly, the overriding value of the story is beauty. Beauty trumps everything. Beauty, not wealth, blood, or political station, commands real power. Obsessed with her own Beauty, the Queen constantly needs validation from the mirror. The Queen out of jealousy of Snow White’s beauty is willing to murder her daughter. The Prince will pay anything to obtain the Beauty of Snow White. The Dwarfs need to immortalize her beauty by sealing Snow White under glass. The Huntsman, after seeing Snow White’s Beauty, changes his allegiance, betraying the queen.
Not so Good Guys
The Queen, without a doubt, is wicked, and deserves punishment and justice. However, what she receives indicates that Snow White and the Prince are equally—if not worse—wicked in their treatment of the Queen. While the Queen wanted Snow White dead, and made repeated attempts to do so, she did not wish to torture Snow White. Each of the deaths she planned out were swift in execution. Even the laces that cut off Snow White’s breathing quickly rendered her unconscious instead of forever gasping for breath. The Queen, however, is sentenced to dancing in hot iron shoes until she dies. This kind of torture could have gone on for hours or even days as her feet were literally burned to a crisp by the shoes. Clearly the moral character of the protagonists is lacking in this story.