We’re heading into the last few Snow White themed posts–today we’re discussing the moral, and then I have another post to discuss the country of Mullberg! (I’ll try to cram both of them in before we get the Hero Poll going, which starts later this week!)
Snow White is a little difficult to extrapolate the moral, mostly because the majority of fairy tales summarize the moral in the last few lines of the original tale. (In example, Cinderella and the Snow Queen.)
Of course, you can pull the traditional moral that a lot of fairy tales underline, and that is that the world is big and can be scary, and you shouldn’t blindly trust strangers–which is admittedly one of the morals in Snow White. (Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood are both examples of this moral as well.)
But perhaps the moral closest to the core of the story is vanity. The wicked queen/stepmother starts harassing Snow White because of Snow White’s beauty. Even though the princess has to be half her age, the queen is obsessed with being the fairest in the land and remaining young and beautiful.
What is the saddest part about the queen’s actions, is that she clearly believes her only worth as a person is in her beauty. This is a devastating thought, and though I’m probably reading into it, it seems unlikely this is a belief the queen came up with on her own without any sort of outside influence.
(As a side note, I abhor this kind of thinking. That’s why a lot of my heroines might be pretty, but often it is in an nontraditional sense. Gabrielle is the most beautiful of all–Angelique withstanding–and she HATES her beauty at the start of her story, and still doesn’t see any value in it even now as a crown princess.)
Back to the moral, it is the queen’s obsessive vanity that turns her into a cannibalistic murderer, and it is the queen’s vanity that ends her life.
You can see my tip of the hat to this moral in the way Faina acknowledges she is vain. (The mirror would have taken a long time to conqueror anyone who didn’t give two hoots about their looks because in order to influence a victim, the victim needs to be THERE.)
But while pointing out the folly of vanity is a worthy moral, I decided I didn’t want that to be the theme in my Snow White, and instead I decided to explore something that I’ve noticed is a vacuum in fairy tales: parental love.
In the majority of fairy tales, the parents are either incompetent (Belle’s father from Beauty and the Beast or the father of the heroine from Rumpelstiltskin) dead (Swan Lake, Cinderella’s mother) or absentee. (Cinderella’s father, Snow White’s father, etc.) In the few cases they are present and somewhat good parents–like Snow Queen–they are obstinate and oblivious to the heroine/hero’s struggles. Sometimes the parents are even villainous themselves. (Hansel and Gretel’s parents.)
I understand why–a major theme in Fairy Tales is encouraging children to grow up–but do ALL fairy tales have to follow that pattern?? Truly?
Since I first started planning this series I knew I wanted to delivery a great big wallop to that common thread, and deliver a story in which a parent sacrifices everything to protect their child. Even better, I wanted to use one of the most common fairy tale villains: a stepmother.
Queen Faina–Snow White’s stepmother–changes the future of the continent because of her stubborn love of Snow White. If she had given in sooner, or allowed the mirror to kill Snow White, it would have created a devastation that would have rocked the world.
While Snow White moves her court to save her stepmother, it is Faina who is the true hero of the story, for in her refusal to hurt her stepchild, she saved the continent from certain disaster. And that is the kind of love parents–or step parents, adopted parents, or even mentors–have for their children, the kind that shapes the world.
You can see echos of this not just through Faina, but characters like Empress Sonya of Swan Lake, Grandmother Guri, Cinderella’s stepmother, Rothbart, and Sybilla. (Yes, though Sybilla has no children, her love for Angelique is something of a saving grace for the enchantress-in-training.)
So, that’s my moral! It made for a rather different rendition of Snow White, but it’s also why I have a soft spot for Mullberg. Thanks for reading, Champions, and have a lovely day!