It is well-known that literary critics often use the text of primary sources very freely. As the result authors can not avoid deliberately or inadvertently misconstruing the tales, such as misreading a passage, omitting details, or taking a passage out of context. Unfortunately the authors of the article “Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother” Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar did not provide the valid interpretation of the source.
The plot of the story
This story is familiar for everyone from the childhood due to Walt Disney movie. The original story was written by the Brothers Grimm on the base of folk fairy tale. Snow White was a king’s daughter, she got her name because her mother looked for white snow when was pregnant. When Snow White was a child, her mother died and her father married other woman. New Queen was very beautiful and proud woman; she had a magic mirror and used to ask it – “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Snow White grew up and one day magic mirror called her the fairest one. Step-mother decided to kill her and asked huntsman to kill her in the forest. Huntsman deceived the Queen and let Snow White go. The girl was saved by seven dwarfs. Step-mother found their house and gave Snow White the poisoned apple. Dwarfs put breathless Snow White into glass coffin, and later the son of king found her and returned to life. They married and forced stepmother to dance in iron hot boots, so she died.
The thesis of the article was the conflict of two women, angel-like and a witch. The authors mentioned the story of two wives of Adam, Lilith and Eva. Unfortunately their attitude to primary source is far from accurate. For example, they claim that there is almost no difference between Queen-mother and Queen-stepmother, because in fact this is the same character “the one a daughter, the other a mother (291-292)”, and later:
“The real story begins when the Queen, having become a mother, metamorphoses also into a witch – that is, into a wicked “step” mother…” (292)
Speaking about male characters in the story, the authors make equal one more pair of characters – the huntsman and the King. They see in this equality the reason of his mercy:
“As patriarchy angelic daughter she is, after all, his child, and he must save her, not kill her” (294) In their brave assumptions authors led to conclusion that voice from the mirror in King’s voice, too.
“At the same time, though, there is clearly at least one way in which the King is present. His, surely, is the voice of the looking-glass”. (293)
There is some small misreading in text of the article as well, but the main fail of authors is omitting the role of dwarfs. Dwarfs were mentioned in the article once, in passing.
Perhaps the idea of conflict between two types of women is viable, but the authors of the article could not support their thesis with enough evidence from the origin source. Their interpretation of fairy-tale can not be considered as valid due to misreading and misconstruction the idea of the fairy-tale.
Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother, by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Brothers Grimm. Snow White