Disney’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length feature film that Disney studios produced. Since that point in 1937, numerous re-makes and spinoffs have been produced on television and film, and the tale remains one of the most well-known fairy tales worldwide. It’s a charming story that that follows a princess saved from certain death at the hands of her evil step-mother. Throughout the story, Snow White is helped along the way by the seven dwarfs. Each dwarf has their own unique characteristics which make them some of the most memorable characters in any fairy tale.
The story includes some of the most popular and stereotypical characters from the fairy tale universe, including a princess, an “evil” step-mother, and a slew of animal friends that follow Snow White on her adventures. In the original version of Snow White, it was actually Snow White’s mother, not step-mother. Disney most likely made this change it an attempt to adjust the film for a younger audience. These are common themes we seen in many tales, and I think they are easy for children to understand and relate too. The animals are very recognizable and memorable, and generally portray human like features. Most fairy tales include some sort of evil animal, like a wolf or bear, but in this story that animals are nice and helpful to Snow White.
We see some common themes throughout the tale as well. This one hits heavily on the “true love” theme, featuring a romance between Snow White and the Prince. While he only makes a few appearances, it is clear that Snow White is physically attracted to the man. He begins to sing her songs and serenade the young Snow White. It is clear they both have experienced “love at first sight”. The meeting doesn’t last long, and it eventually comes to an end when Snow White is forced to flee. Towards the end of the tale, they meet up once again. The prince finds Snow White in the forest, presumably dead, and gives her a soft kiss on the lips. The kiss causes her to spring back to life, showing that true love has power.
On the flipside, the men within the story are given much more highly regarded roles within society. The dwarfs worked in the mine, while the prince worked in a prominent role in the royal family. In fact, all seven of the dwarfs were male. The men were much more highly regarded in general and were given positions of power and importance. Given the fact that the story was written in the 1800s, this viewpoint on gender roles was extremely common and not out of the ordinary. Women were overall shy and modest, while men worked hard in their careers and focused on gaining power and dominance.
Besides the basic gender roles, there was a great deal of gender inequality as well. Almost every position of power, excluding the step-mother, was assumed by a male character. The huntsman, who was given the task of killing Snow White, was a man. The prince was obviously male as well. He held one of the most powerful positions in society. Then there was the queen’s husband, who was never prominently featured in the film. I assume he was the King, given that his wife was the queen.