The Cultural Message of Snow White

The Cultural Message of Snow White

For hundreds of years children have been enchanted by fairy tales. The beautiful princesses, handsome rescuers, and happily-ever-after endings lent themselves to contentment and a feeling that all was right with the world. During the last century, many of these classics were brought to life on the big screen in animated motion pictures. Walt Disney animated the Grimm Brother’s tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, during the Great Depression, grossing eight million, the most money made by any film up to that time (History Channel, 2011). Obviously, in the midst of such a difficult time in America’s history, not just children, but adults also, yearned to hear the message of good triumphing over evil. The question might be considered, though, do these fairy tales embody truth? A look at the cultural messages displayed in Snow White show that although many of the messages are archaic and sexist, the story still has worth today when used and discussed in an appropriate manner.

The story of Snow White, simply told, begins with a queen who yearns for a child. She is granted this wish, but dies as soon as her fine-looking daughter was born. The kind remarries a handsome but wickedly prideful woman with a magic mirror which she regularly asks, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The mirror answers that she, the queen, is the most beautiful until Snow White grows into a strikingly beautiful young woman. Then the mirror begins to answer that Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than the queen. Unable to stand being second in beauty to anyone, the queen tells a woodsman to take Snow White to the woods and kill her. He has pity, however, and lets Snow Whi...

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...y unhappy consequences in real life.

Fairy tales are not written in stone, though; they are malleable, constantly shifting stories. Even though some outdated cultural messages can be found, there is still value in the narratives. Fairy tales can be reinvented and reshaped to model the strong, intelligent, and independent females mothers seen everywhere around us today. Wise parents and teachers will educate themselves to better share and discuss with children the messages found and what truth is and what it is not. Fairy tales, for all their faults, do not need to be kept on the shelf, but instead, used wisely, they can continue to bring delight to many future generations.

Works Cited

Grauerholz, L. (2003). Experts say fairy tales not so happy ever after.

Purdue News. Retrieved from


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