Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Snow-White and Rose Red

Once upon a time, a woman lived with her two daughters. Snow White was quiet and gentle and stayed at home, helping their mother. Rose Red loved to run in the meadows, but despite their differences the two sisters loved each other, and their mother, immensely.


One cold night, there came a knock at the door. To their surprise, there was a bear seeking shelter. Though the girls were frightened, their mother had compassion on the bear. They let him sleep by the fire each night, and they became friends and played games with him.
Denise Marshall


In the spring, the bear had to leave to guard his treasure from the dwarves. The girls were very sad to see their friend go. As the bear was leaving, a piece of his hairy coat caught against a bolt in the door and tore off. Snow White almost thought she saw gold peeking through.


Later, the girls were in the forest and encountered a dwarf whose beard was caught in a tree. He hurled insults at them but asked for their help. Snow White trimmed the end of his beard to free him, but at this he was furious, because the beard is a source of pride for a dwarf. The girls encountered him later, with his beard twisted around fishing line, and again being carried away by an eagle. Each time they freed him, but they received no thanks-only complaints.


Once more the sisters saw the dwarf, this time carrying a load of jewels. But then a bear came out of the forest. The dwarf, in an effort to save himself, tried to convince the bear to eat the girls instead of himself, but the bear knocked him over with one blow.

Arthur Rackham


The girls were afraid, but the bear called to them-it was their special friend. When he had caught up with them on the road, his skin fell off to reveal a handsome man, dressed in gold. He was a Prince, bewitched by the dwarf, who had stolen his treasures. With the dwarf finally dead, the Prince was freed.


He married Snow White, and Rose Red married his brother, and they all shared the treasure and lived happily with the girls' mother and the white and red rose trees that had grown outside their cottage.
Peter Newell

"Snow White and Rose Red" makes everyone happy, as it defies a lot of fairy tale stereotypes. Most noteably-it is very rare in that it features positive mother/daughter relationships, and positive sister relationships. But I love that the girls have opposite personalities. The traditional fairy tale heroine is more like Snow White-quiet, does the housework, not one for adventure. This is one of the few fairy tales to feature an adventurous, more athletic heroine. Yet I love that it includes both, not just one or the other. With all the feminist critiques of past female stereotypes, one begins to feel guilty if one happens to be female, quiet, and more inclined to read a book at home than go out and have adventures. But neither one is wrong-females have different personalities and can still live in harmony with one another.

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