Since the beginnings of the abridged and ‘sanitized’ versions of classic fairytales were publically circulated, the design and principle intentions of the fairytale have steadily morphed and changed as society similarly paralleled. Over time fairy tales have been transformed radically as they naturally will continue to do according to the age they are rewritten and reproduced. Traditional fairy tales retold today have been too recurrently rewritten and revised that it has become almost impossible to grade the single most accepted moral understandings. In a critical analysis of the classic tale of Snow White, the various transformations from the retelling of the original Brothers Grimm story to the modernised Disney version will be examined. Further analysis of the modern remakes; ‘Sydney White’ and ‘Snow White and The Huntsman’ will be investigated to see just how far the numerous changing themes, intended lessons and implied gender roles and how they are made to relate to and influence children are evolved. The concerns of childhood and discipline are spread widely, yet variously throughout the transformation of classic to modern retellings.
The basic storyline of Snow White mainly portrays the themes of femininity and how a woman should act, the patriarchal themes of women and their role in the world in regards to men and stereotypical ideals of beauty and their consequences. In the original telling of the story, Snow White although only a young teenager and a princess, is taught and affirmed that in turn for being obedient for being told what to do, she is a ‘good girl’, rewarded with a place to stay and love in a home like environment. In order to be accepted and allowed to live with the dwarves, she must do the cooking, cleaning and housework in return for a place to live and their protection. By assenting to their proposition, she is essentially placed in the status of a servant to the dwarves, or the representation of the ‘man’ in the story. This confirms the traditional gender roles of women being passive and in charge of the house work, while the man is the guardian and the intelligent thinker. Before the dwarves leave for their day, they cautiously inform Snow White to never answer the door but she disobediently goes against their advice. By disobeying ‘the man’, her actions end in adverse consequences in the form of death from eating the poisoned apple she received. These events in the storyline reaffirm the traditional gender notions of the era that women’s intelligence is lower than a man’s and that she must always listen to their instruction and advice.
Another major theme in the story is the idea of the importance of women always being beautiful and striving to become ‘the fairest of them all.’ Snow White’s stepmother is a slave to beauty, who incessantly affirms the certainty of her attractiveness by the means of her magical talking mirror, however in doing so, grows to be effectively wicked. The story, to all intents and purposes, portrays a mixed message to the reader, being beautiful is of the utmost importance; however the tale presents a word of warning about the negative side of the effect of beauty. The downfall of the Queen presents the notion of the terrible results which come from obsessing over the exterior and how there is a different type of beauty which only comes from within. There is for example, no implication that the queen's obsession with her appearance ever rewards her with happiness or delight, or that her need and fixation on supremacy and power through beauty and sexual attractiveness is itself a sexually rewarding feeling. However, the point which is made evident is the fury and panic which presents the queen's understanding that as she grows older and ages, she must lose to Snow White (Sale, 1979). These themes in the storyline affirm the notions that women fixate over appearances and hold beauty superior to any other quality such as intellect....
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