by Mabelyn Arteaga
There are many interpretations to the fairytale "Snow White." Unfortunately, however, most of the criticisms have been derived from "male" psychological viewpoints. Freud is, of course, the pre-eminent psychologist of the twentieth century. Along with Freud, the analogy of the Electra Complex becomes evident. The idea that the daughter wants to run off with her father (or in this case the prince) and kill her mother has often been applied to "Snow White." As Stefan Dwarves writes, "The jealousy between Snow White and the wicked queen is the same as that between any mother and daughter. What mother has not watched in dismay as she becomes older and uglier while her daughter grows more and more beautiful?" (The Adult Companion to Tales for Children 46) Through the decades, psychologists have disagreed more and more with Freudian interpretations of female psychology.
Another interpretation is the Biblical one. For centuries the apple has symbolized the birth of identity, choice and freedom. Ed W. Queen and Wate R. Frieze in their article "Snow White in the Garden of Eden," state that:
When Snow White lives with the seven dwarves, she is like a little girl playing house with her little dolls. She is, therefore, in a state of innocence, much like the state of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And how is she removed from that state? How else but by eating an apple, offered to her by a jealous "snake," her wicked stepmother? (Journal of Inspiring Interpretations 38) Such interpretations are intricately linked with "original" sin, but even the concept of original sin was proposed and invented by a secular order composed of men who formed institutions to control individual freedoms and promoted the subordination and subjugation of women.
Women to the average Medieval Catholic or Christian fanatic were lewd, polluted and vile-- thus their nature had to be controlled for they caused the fall of man. Like ancient Christian fanatics, the interpreters as well as the author of "Snow White" continually propose that female nature is insidious and untrustworthy. Thus, critics like Furst Period in his article, "Snow White's First Bite: Every Girl's Coming of Age," get away with such ridiculous interpretations. He writes:
"Snow White" is not the only fairy tale in which an innocent young girl tastes of evil for the first time and then goes into a deep sleep, to be awakened by a prince's kiss. We have, for example, Sleeping Beauty, who cuts her finger on a spinning wheel and goes to sleep for a hundred years....Snow White, of course, eats of the apple of Good and Evil and falls into a trance until a prince comes by and kisses her. What does all this mean? Obviously, the first hint of 'evil' in most girls' lives comes with their first period, with which they become sexually mature. In order to safeguard their honor the must go into a deep sleep (become frigid) until the right man (their future husband) awakens them with his magic kiss... (Very Long Essays on Very Short Tales 376)
The questions are evident. What proof does this man have that a woman's menstrual cycle causes particular evil or frigidness is a young girl? The answers are clear. Most of the male critics that have criticized "Snow White," have been less than informed about female psychology.
"Snow White," has been widely analyzed. The fairytale has been dissected and the meanings abstracted. The once beautiful story has been reduced to a screaming horror of female sexuality. The critics, men at heart, are at the root of the distortions present in the interpretations.
Dwarves, Stefan. The Adult Companion to Tales for Children. New York: White and Sons, 1937. 46
Period, Furst. Snow White's First Bite: Every Girl's Coming of Age. Very Long Essays on Very Short Tales. Sally Shiftless. Boston: The Harvard Press, 1923. 376
Queen, Ed Wick and Wate R. Frieze. Snow White in the Garden of Eden" Journal of Inspiring Interpretations. (April 1982) 37-48