Snow White is dead, long live the Evil Queen.
Perhaps you’ve seen the interviews with Disney’s latest princess. When it comes to the dream role of Snow White, the actress is snarky, blunt, and condescending. It’s “not 1937 anymore”, she says, which apparently means women are no longer kind and gracious human beings, blessed to be afforded opportunities to tell timeless tales and get paid millions of dollars to do it.
But I’m not really here to talk about her. I’m here to talk about the crumbling pockets of society that lack the reading comprehension skills and general ability to read beyond the basics of fairy tales older than they can imagine. It’s a pet peeve of mine; the grown, apparently educated, adults (specifically from Hollywood) who can’t understand the basic morals and allegories of the stories they’ve heard since birth. It drives me crazy. And I think it drives the rest of society crazy, too, they just might not be able to pinpoint exactly why.
You see, fairy tales are not fun stories about girls who faint away only to be kissed tenderly and then dance around in pretty dresses. On the outside, yes, that’s exactly what they are. But if you bother to look just under the surface, you will see the societal and spiritual necessity of these stories. In other words, you will see Snow White and other tales as they were meant to be seen; as parables.
Since it’s the latest victim of 2023 Disney, we’ll focus on Snow White. This classic tale is well known. The beautiful young girl, perfect and pretty, sinless, set to inherit a kingdom is driven from her rightful home by the Evil Queen’s hatred. The Evil Queen wants Snow White to die, because Snow White has everything the Evil Queen thinks she deserves: beauty, a kingdom, the love of the king, etc.
So Snow White leaves. She is evicted from her home and sent to live in the wilderness. She’s now subject to the “regular world” where she encounters seven dwarves, each with their own vice. They love Snow White and take her in, she lives among them and sets to work creating a new life with the seven sins…I mean dwarves. She makes do, but knows there’s more, because she had it before. In her heart of hearts, she knows that she is the rightful heir of a great promise. In the background of this is the Prince, who is Snow White’s only hope of returning to the life she once knew.
We see the Evil Queen return, determined to kill Snow White for good. She offers her various, tempting items, Snow White innocently accepts. Over and over, she falls victim to the Evil Queen’s traps until, finally, she eats the apple and dies. To the “regular world” Snow White is dead for good. What they don’t realize is the power of the Prince. With an act of love—a single, innocent kiss, the most basic physical example of love—the Prince has the power to restore life. Not only that, the Prince, through his love for Snow White, faces and defeats the Evil Queen and, in doing so, is able to take the resurrected Snow White back into the kingdom—where they live happily ever after.
Sound familiar? Is there possibly any other story that Snow White could possibly be explaining in a slightly different, more approachable way? It’s Jesus, the story is about Christ’s defeat of death and sacrifice for fallen man. Snow White is an allegory for our human relationship with God. From Satan’s hatred for us and his wish for us to die, to our banishment from the kingdom of Paradise. From our languishing in the world with sin (see the lyrics of “Heigh-Ho”), our continued temptation from the evil one, to our death (something granted to us by our original parents eating of forbidden fruit). From Christ embodying love to His power over death. Snow White is an allegory. It was, and still is, a way for God-fearing adults to tell children and those unable to read the story of Christ and all about His victory of death and our Salvation. It’s a way to illustrate our relationship with God.
The pretty dresses are just a bonus.
Without the Prince, Snow White Dies Forever
The 2023 Snow White actresses have bragged that they’ve written a story where Snow White does not need a prince to be saved. But I don’t think they realize what they are saying. Without the Prince, Snow White dies forever. Without Christ, we die forever. Without Christ’s love, we would be languishing in sin unto eternity.
In this culture of self-worship, it’s no surprise that this was the direction for an “updated” Snow White story. All Snow White needs is herself. The version of her steeped in and living amongst sin, unable to discern a poison apple from an unpoisoned apple is enough to get her through. She doesn’t need pure love, she doesn’t need to be awakened from her sinful state, or returned to her rightful place.
This isn’t about men versus women. This is mankind and Christ. It’s the story of our fall and salvation. It’s really that simple. What’s more, Christian tradition often refers to Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, making the prince/princess relationship even more accurate. The Prince’s role in this particular tale is small in on-screen terms, but his necessity to the tale is enormous. Because, without him, Snow White would never wake. She’d be buried, and the Evil Queen would reign forever. Christ—God—is essential to the story of mankind. Even if He was only physically on Earth for 33 years. Only if the Prince is only on screen for 3 minutes.
So when Keira Knightley scoffs and says her daughter will never watch Cinderella or The Little Mermaid (minute mark 2:00), I can’t help but notice that the very people who claim to be the epicenters of culture, the storytellers and artists, are too ignorant to understand the stories they are telling, let alone teach us anything or be deserving of our praise.
I am hardly the first to point out the allegory of Snow White and other fairy tales—it was their original intention, after all. Once upon a time, in a land far far away, people of all levels of intelligence, socio-economic background, races, and industry understood the basic principles and morals of such tales. They were able to glean from stories about princesses, fairies, wolves, and mermaids valuable life lessons, truths, and morals that have helped mankind flourish for centuries. Those days might be gone but, like Snow White, they can be resurrected through love, diligence, and God-fearing adults who know better.