Snow White: A psychological analysis
Bettelheim sees this tale as the competition between
mother and daughter for the father
Malice of stepmother is the projection of the anger of the
daughter for the mother, the biological mother dies because
the child cannot express anger towards the actual mother and
the stepmother represents the bad mother side.
Not “I am jealous of mother but mother is jealous of me.”
More about inheritance customs than sexual jealousy.
Mirror and glass coffin are tools that suggest women use art to
kill themselves. Reinforced by the stays a, the apple and the
Polarizes women, a relentlessly evil queen with a young
innocent girl used to labor and focused on tidiness (a good
Right of inheritance: Who has the right to inherit the
father’s wealth: the wife or the child of the first wife?
Dwarves are societal outcasts: Note that dwarves were
regarded as diseased in spirit (God’s hand)
Fantasies of the lower classes about how the upper
classes live. Castles, eternal youth, scheming)
Death of the mother: childbirth is risky even in the
Symbols In Snow White
White Snow: innocence, virginity
Red Blood: sexual passion
Ebony black: the end of life
Mirror: the mirror of the soul
Ingesting internal organs: ingesting power
Comb and stay laces: Snow White’s awakening sexual
desires (the desire for beauty and maturity)
Apple: the symbol of sexual passion and the downfall
of succumbing to it.
Walt Disney and Disnefication
He came from a very poor background.
He had a cold, stern and unaffectionate father.
He joined the army to get away from home and his father.
He was spurned by an early sweetheart.
He achieved success by tenacity, cunning, and courage. He
believed that the power should rest with the people who
had the vision and the creativity to create and rule.
He maintained absolute power and control over people
who worked for him.
He hated communism and was reputed to be a Nazi
Changes from original oral tales to the Disney
The poor are not dumb. He gives credit to the poor who work
hard and achieve success but they need to stay in their place.
The films are democratic; the kings can be outsmarted and do
not always maintain power. His interpretations always
represent the more American values of capitalism and the rags
to riches struggles.
Heroes are out for what they can get for themselves; they do not
help the community.
Evil parents are softened or taken away
The films are musical; the music emphasizes the lighthearted,
more romantic quality of the films and allows the characters
to reveal innermost thoughts.
The stories always have happy endings; the punishments of the
villains are much less severe.
The hero takes a much more active role and receives
the credit for the ultimate success in the story.
The heroine is much more helpless and dependent on
the prince for rescue.
Forest, animals and objects have magical helper
qualities; they sing and dance; heroines are never
There is an emphasis on women’s domestication.
Happiness (marriage) is always the ultimate goal of the
Criticisms of Disney
Representation of the humble American worker: The underclass seems to
be happy to stay in their places. The workers are happy with their lot in
Absolute power and control of the underclass reflects Disney’s control; the
prince takes credit for being champion for the disenfranchised.
Women are helpless ornaments
The banished eventually triumph.
The golden castle is every woman’s dream. The prince is rewarded with
the heroine’s beauty.
The emphasis on SW’s cleaning the house shows how rule-bound and
rigid Disney was. He wanted the world cleaned up.
Reading is replaced by viewing
Everything is simplistic and one-dimensional because it is adorable.
After watching the movie and reading Snow White, can
you list the differences between them? Take several
minutes to do this in your groups and then we will
list them on the board.
Make sure you have emails and phone numbers for
Work on Group presentations
Make sure to prepare for the in-class final. The list of
readings/names you will need to know is on the
website under worksheets.