Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Story of 'Snow White'

With today's Google Doodle celebrating the 388th birthday of Charles Perrault, author of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, we did a bit of reading...

...And it wasn't long before we realised that the original stories are not quite as sweet and sparkly as the Disney versions would have us believe!

So we thought we'd delve into the history of our own fairytale - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - to see if the same was true...

Everyone knows the story, don't they?

Snow White is a princess who is treated like a servant by her stepmother, the Wicked Queen, who is jealous of the princess' beauty and her ability to woo the Prince with a single song. The Queen hatches a plot to kill Snow White, sending out her servant to do the dirty deed - but he has a change of heart and lets her run away.

Snow White stumbles across a cottage in the forest, where she befriends seven dwarfs with her ability to cook, clean and summon woodland animals to do any chores she doesn't fancy doing.

Meanwhile, the Wicked Queen finds out, via her magic mirror, that Snow White is still alive and 'the fairest of them all' - so she poisons an apple and disguises herself as a hag to finish the job and kill Snow White.

Snow White, as princesses are prone to do, falls for the plot and eats the apple, falling into a sleep from which she can be woken only by the all-powerful True Love's Kiss.

Luckily for Snow White, the Prince gets wind of her fate, finds her and kisses her, thus breaking the spell...and they all live Happily Ever After.

But was this always the way it went?

The original story of Snow White was published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, and underwent several revisions until 1854, when they finally settled on the version they liked best!

The story was first adapted for Broadway in 1912 and then taken on by Disney in 1937, their first full-length animated feature and the fairytale that spawned their now world-famous 'Disney Princess' collection.

Surprisingly enough, the Disney version (and our pantomime version!) is actually fairly faithful to the original tale, but there are a few key differences, the main one being that the Queen doesn't try just twice to kill Snow White...she tries it four times!

First, the huntsman sets out to kill Snow White but lets her go, fooling the Queen with a boar's lungs and liver, which the Queen has her chef cook for dinner.


Snow White, meanwhile, has found the dwarfs' cottage and taken refuge there, doing the cooking and cleaning for her new housemates.

In her second attempt, once she learns of Snow White's survival, the Queen disguises herself as a peddler and visits the dwarfs' cottage as a bodice seller, giving Snow White a bodice as a gift but lacing it so tightly that she can't breathe and thus faints. The Queen leaves her for dead, but the dwarfs return just in time and are able to revive Snow White by loosening the bodice strings.

Not to be dissuaded, the Queen tries again, this time as a comb seller. With a poisoned comb, she brushes Snow White's ebony hair, once again causing the princess to faint. But, yet again, the Queen is thwarted by the dwarfs, who are able to revive Snow White. Phew!

Finally, the Queen - disguised as a farmer's wife - resorts to dark magic and poisons an apple. She bites from the green side to demonstrate its juiciness, and Snow White bites from the poisoned red side and chokes. This time, the dwarfs cannot revive her, as they do not know what caused her to fall into her 'sleeping death'. So they place her in a glass coffin.

A passing prince comes across the coffin and - which is a tad creepy - falls instantly in love with the sleeping Snow White, enchanted by her beauty. He asks the dwarfs to let him have the coffin, complete with girl, and they agree - also a tad creepy.

But, as they go to move the coffin, they trip over the roots of a tree; the sudden movement causes the piece of poisoned apple to be dislodged from her throat. She awakes, falls immediately in love with the prince (that was lucky!) and they set a wedding date.

They invite the Wicked Queen to the wedding and, although reluctant, she goes, because she doesn't believe it could possibly be Snow White, alive and getting married - unfortunately for her, when she arrives, the new King and his Queen Snow White present her with a pair of shoes made of glowing-hot iron, which she is forced to dance in until she drops dead.

Pretty 'Grimm', isn't it?

No wonder Disney made a few changes!

We'll stick with the modern retelling, we think, but it's always good to know the origins of a story!


Check out our version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this February at Medina Theatre. It's being performed on the 13th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, on the 14th at 2:30pm and on the 20th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm.

Tickets are £8 for adults and £7 for children - but hurry, they're selling fast! Book now to avoid disappointment!

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