There are several Snow White movies out or coming out so I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the essential nature of the story. Snow White is a Virgin in every sense of the word. She lives in a world where she keeps herself small in order to be safe from the envy of her Step-Mother. Envy is the desire to steal the soul of another person. The Wicked Step-Mother has power over Snow White but no love. This is what makes her dangerous because she occupies the place where young girls look for a sense that they are loveable.
Snow White is asleep to her potential. She does not see her own beauty which is a synonym for her soul. The purpose of the story is for her to stop eating the poison apple – ie. stop believing the words that tell her she is of no value and wake up to her intrinsic worth.
I’ve often puzzled over why Snow White escapes her Step Mother only to start cooking and cleaning for eight little men. After much puzzling, I think it has two messages. She is taking action to make a place for herself, finding that her womanly gifts of making a home can be responded to with love.
But mostly she is grounding herself in the mundane so she has a container in which to explore her spiritual side. It becomes the container in which love can grow. I’m not saying that she consciously knew this. I think the story illuminates the human condition without need for explanation. Do this and you will feel that. It is the same reason we instinctively clean out the cupboards or buy a new dress when we are feeling the chaos of life. These actions create the container that we can grow in, relieve the sense that we could spin out of control while we do the internal work.
The climax of the story should be when she is on the brink of understanding that she is worthy of great love and then all is lost when she eats the poison apple (literally this time). Snow White stories today are turning into hero stories where she becomes a great warrior. I think this is a mistake. Snow White is appeasing her Step Mother until she can no longer hide her light. She expands her world and finds a place where she can know her starlight but she eats the poison apple that sends her into a coma until love awakens her. It is the story of the need for love in order to live.
I saw the Julia Roberts version of Snow White, Mirror, Mirror, and although it was well costumed and had some clever lines I think they failed to show the archetypal essence of the story. Snow White never showed a need for love. The protagonist was said to be The Evil Queen but the audience didn’t care about her nor should they being that they are probably teenagers. If they wanted to make a Snow White story for adults they should have looked to the evil mother in Precious or Black Swan. Those women sucked the souls out of their daughters and their back-story gave hints as to why.
Which brings me to my last point. The essence of the Snow White story can be very powerful in a modern setting. Precious is Snow White on the quest to understand that she is worthy of love. Pretty Woman is also a Snow White story in that her mother always told her she was only worthy of bums and it is easier to believe the bad stuff. She was eating that poison apple until through the kiss of Edward she saw she was of more value.
I’m looking forward to Snow White and the Huntsman. I know they have made it a hero story but I am hoping they have elements of the Virgin Snow White as well.
What do you think of the Snow White story?