“Snow White” From Grimm to Disney

The two key differences between the Brothers’ Grimm and Walt Disney is that they each had their own motivations for developing their fairy tales. The Grimm Brothers sought to reunify Germany by collecting the stories that most accurately represented the history of the country. Disney, through his movies, aimed to put his stamp on Hollywood and self-configure himself into his stories. Both The Grimm Brothers and Disney’s motives greatly affected their story-telling, especially in the case of “Snow White.”

The Brothers’ Grimm hoped to keep their writings as true to the actual fairy tales as possible. Thus, their story of “Little Snow White” represents the zeitgeist of their time. Like the Disney movie, Snow White is passive and domestic; she wholeheartedly wants to do the chores for the dwarves and she accepts a marriage proposal from snow white cleans upa man she barely knows. However, unlike the Disney move, in the Grimm fairytale, the agreement between the dwarves and Snow White, in which she cooks and cleans for them in exchange for a place to live, becomes more of a contract in the third edition. The relationship dynamic between these characters differs slightly in the two versions. Nonetheless, the Queen in both versions is obsessed with her beauty and constantly asks the mirror if she is the fairest of them all. When she is not, she strives to eliminate her competition. This demonstrates the Queen’s need for approval from the male-dominated society of her time, regardless of how it may affect others.

There are evidently more variances between the story and the movie for several reasons. In the fairy tale,snow white Snow White is attacked thrice by the evil queen whereas in the movie, this only occurs once. Disney only incorporated one attack into the movie because, for him, that plot was unimportant. Instead, the animation of the movie was his most prized work; through his first full-length movie, he hoped to show his abilities to animate. Also, in the fairytale, the dwarves and Prince are merely functions of the story so that it may continue with its patriarchal undertones. However, in the movie, Disney gives the dwarves names and personalities while also giving the Prince a larger role as the savior of Snow White and the center of attention. These changes reveal Disney’s self-configuration; he implemented himself into this movie in an attempt to compensate for the inadequacies and struggles in his life.

Finally, because this movie debuted during the Great Depression, Disney portrayed the dwarves as hard working people who reap what they sow; they work and the rewards make them happy. He did this in order to incite the hope in Americans that if they just kept working hard, everything would improve. The zeitgeist of Disney’s time also influenced how he decided to end Snow White’s story. Because Disney’s audience was all of America, including children, the witch accidentally kills herself instead of the Brothers’ Grimm version in which the Prince forces her to dance herself to death in hot-iron shoes. This contamination makes the story universal for every age group and thus better fits the 1930’s era.

Though Disney’s “Snow White” drastically differs from the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale, Disney had his reasons for every single alteration, whether it be for personal reasons or to appeal to his audience.






Cinderella Then vs. Cinderella Now

Ruth Bottigheimer defines a rise tale as a “sub-genre of the fairy tale in which an impoverished protagonist first secures a marriage through magic and then acquires wealth.” In “Cinderella,” Cinderella, though she begins as a wealthy girl, spends most of her life impoverished and constantly working for her step-family. She is verbally abused and neglected for most of her adolescence. CinderellaHowever, she achieves marriage to the prince through several magical events brought upon by her dead mother, who manifests through the tree Cinderella planted above her grave years before. In marrying her Prince Charming, she then acquires wealth because she marries a prince. In the fairy tale world, this motif runs rampant. Kind, compassionate woman plus a little, or a lot, of magic equals fairy tale ending in which both love and wealth are attained.
In “Cinderella,” magic directly leads to marriage because without it, Cinderella never would have met the Prince. However, this does not necessarily occur in the real-world, CInderella2depending on the time period. In sixteenth century Europe, where marriage was the main way through which women grew in wealth and power, magic most likely directly facilitated marriage. Given, the magic I speak of here is not the same as in the story of Cinderella. In “Cinderella,” the dress and shoes falling from the tree were inexplicable phenomena that Cinderella had no control over. However, in Medieval times, women used their own magic to attract men. This type of magic was not the inexplicable phenomena I mentioned earlier, but rather the sexual prowess that women exuded in order to catch the eye of their future husbands. Their magic consisted of altering their physical appearance through clothing and hair styles, along with saying just the right thing at the right time to the right person. Women’s magic then directly led to marriage due to the fact that most marriages were arranged at that time, but in order to ensure that men would come through on their agreements, women had to make said men unconsciously desire them. They used sex appeal to attract their husbands and subsequently gain wealth through marriage.

Today, this is not the case, especially in America. Though women do utilize their sexual appearance in order to attract men, this does not guarantee marriage anymore. Rather, women initially attract men through appearance, but it is their personalities and compatibilities with their partners that will most likely lead to long-term commitment. Thus, the magic that women employ only indirectly affects marriage, if it even does that. Contrarily, men may employ the same means that women employ today to attract partners, therefore completely contradicting every aspect of the Cinderella story. Also, in contrast to utilizing magic and marriage to achieve wealth, in today’s society, women more often than not find other ways to acquire wealth than committing themselves to wealthy men. Instead, they support themselves financially more often than not because women today are more independent of others than they were in yesteryear. CarlyToday, we see women like Carly Fiorina who are self-made; it is she who is solely given credit for her success in a fortune 500 company. So no, this idea of “rags to riches through magic and marriage” is not realistic today because marriage is no longer a viable means of acquiring power and wealth.



Professor traces evolution of Grimm fairy tales, starting with ‘Cinderella’

Captivating Illustrations of Classic Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm



“Hansel and Gretel” versus “Hansel and Gretel”

Get this: a new movie comes out that is based off of a book. Everyone who has read the book flocks to see the movie, hoping it fully captures the plots and ideals in the book exactly. Of course, it never does, hence the horrible reviews claiming the movie was grossly underdone and overall awful. However, what most of these critics do not realize is there was a thought process behind every single deviation from the book. Perhaps money was too tight to film a certain scene, or the director had a certain direction for the movie and some aspects of the book did not fit into his or her vision. This is potentially why the MGM movie “Hansel and Gretel” varies from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

The primary difference between the movie and the story is that, in the first edition of the fairy tale, the mother realizes that she and her husband will starve if they keep taking care of her children. Thus, it is she who initiates the entire plot by attempting to leave her children alone in the forest to die twice. This cruelty, however, is not visible in the MGM version. In the movie, though the mother is upset at her children, when they are lost in the forest, she feels the same pain any mother who has lost her children feels. She insists on going after them, only to be stopped by her level-headed husband, who explains that it will be impossiblHansele to find their children in the witch’s forest at night. This reasonable father figure is another contrast from the fairy tale. In the Brothers Grimm story, the father is passive and easily manipulated by his wife. Although he, as is seen in the movie, loves his children, he still does the mother’s bidding even though it means him losing his children. These differences occurred for various reasons, the main reason being that the fairy tale was written over a century before the movie was produced. Therefore, the ideals of the time affected both parties. In the fairy tale version, the mother is portrayed as the instigator, the one in the wrong who takes advantage of the poor father. Keep in mind that this was a time in which patriarchy was sovereign. However, the MGM movie debuted in 1987, so the ideals of the time had changed drastically from the Brothers Grimm era. In the movie, the mother is more loving and the dad is stronger, unable to be used selfishly by the mother.

Another contrast between the movie and the fairy tale is that the movie is significantly more involved and takes longer to tell the story of Hansel and Gretel than the fairy tale. There is evidently more of a lead up to the children getting lost in the forest; the family dynamic is set up as well as the struggGretelles that the family faces being poor. Also, the rescue mission that Gretel heads in order to save Hansel is much more involved and takes longer. These plot differences were incorporated into the movie primarily to make the story longer. Virtually no one wants to watch a boring, ten-minute movie. The director of the MGM movie had to embellish the story and give it more detail in order to make it more interesting and involved. The director’s aim was to capture the audience’s attention because that makes money. Whereas the Brothers Grimm aimed not to make money, but to recount the history of Germany through their fairytales, the produces of the movie were in it for profit. As the saying goes, money makes the world go round.

Though there is a myriad of differences between “Hansel and Gretel” the movie and “Hansel and Gretel” the fairy tale, some similarities are still visible. For example, the character of Gretel is strong in both versions. In contrast to many fairy tales of the nineteenth century, there is a strong female lead in “Hansel and Gretel.” Though seemingly weak and reliant upon her brother at first, Gretel becomes clever and strong when Hansel is in danger. In both the story and the movie, it is she who orchestrates and subsequently causes the witch’s death. She is more mature than her brother and, in both versions, represents a transition into adulthood when in danger. The writers of the movie kept Gretel a leader mostly to show female empowerment; women can do anything when the need to act arises.

Though there are differences between the MGM version of “Hansel and Gretel” and the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the alterations do not take away from the plot or the overarching morals of the story. Though the parental dynamic differs, both variations still glorify the bond between siblings and their never-ending love for each other, as well as humankind’s need to survive.





What is a Fairy Tale?

img_0070 According to dictionary.com, a fairy tale is “a story, usually for children, about elves hobgoblins, dragons, fairies, or other magical creatures.’ While this is partially true, this definition nowhere near covers an actual fairytale. There is so much more to these kinds of stories than simply magical creatures; there is action and adventure, love, death. Had the Brothers Grimm seen this definition of a fairytale, they would be outraged because their tales tell so much more. As Heidi Anne Heiner puts it, when asked what a fairy tale is, she answers “I am not going to give a neat pat answer since I don’t think one exists.” Regardless of the inability to precisely define a fairy tale, working definitions exist that almost always include aspects of the story such as magic, comparisons to reality, and action.

This definition gets one thing right; at the heart of every fairytale is magic. However, this is not just any magic. In fairy tales, the “real fairy tale hero is not astonished by miracles and magic (Lüthi 46). Magic is an innate part of a fairy tale and, as such, almost no one in the story is surprised when a duck talks, when the hero has a supernatural power, or when a magical monster is terrorizing a town. There is no element of disbelief or wonder in a fairy tale when it comes to magic- the exact opposite of how it is in the real world. Ducks cannot talk, heroes are just ordinary people, and monsters are plain old humans.

However, ironically enough, fairy tales are considered utopian worlds in miniature. At first, one might question this assumption, deeming it absurd because magic does not exist in the real world. Although, upon further thought, this conclusion is not impossible to reach. Take, for example, the tumblr_m7a98uljNB1r9wwcoo1_500Brothers Grimm version of “Sleeping Beauty.” In this story, a girl is blessed with the best gifts anyone could ever ask for. Then, a curse is placed upon her in which she will fall asleep for one hundred years on her fifteenth birthday. Though this curse comes to pass, Aurora is saved by a handsome prince and they, and the rest of the kingdom, proceed to live happily ever after. In this fairy tale, evil is thwarted while good is triumphant. Aurora overcomes the curse that has been placed upon her and thus resumes her perfect life as a princess. Though the evil aspect of the story may not seem ideal, there can be no good without evil. Thus, this story represents an ideal world in miniature (Lüthi).

Another aspect of fairy tales that draws people to them is their disposal of description as well as their abundance of action, which go hand in hand with each other. The fairy tale lives for action. Especially in the Brothers Grimm stories, detail is done away with in favor of focusing most of the story on the action scenes. Therefore, characters’ appearances are not usually given, nor is the description of the scenery surrounding the hero. Instead, only the fight and rescue scenes are actually detailed so that the readers have a clear sense of what is going on. Action is what makes a fairy tale. Without it, there would be no plot.

Finally, what makes each specific fairy tale is the zeitgeist, or the spirit of a certain time. The zeitgeist accounts for almost all variations in fairy tales from different countries, along with different times. What goes into a fairy tale all depends on who the target audience is and what the writers hope to accomplish in creating the story. For example, the Grimm Brothers wrote their fairy tales primarily for the German middle class and aristocracy. Therefore, they focused on upholding the morals of the time so they did away with allusions to sex and other inappropriate behavior in favor of more refined, less provocative ideals, while also trying to retain the history of Germany in their stories. In comparison, Walt Disney’s version of the Brothers Grimm tales are even more censored because at that time, children were the target audience. Also, the first Disney movies were produced during the Great Depression, time of pain and sorrow. In order to counter this sadness, Disney incorporated themes such as hopefulness and happiness. Though the target audience was children during the 1930’s and 40’s, Disney’s movies are essentially for everyone and are timeless in the sense that they are still watched today.

Fairy tales are such versatile stories that creating a concise definition is futile and impossible. Doing so is the equivalent of attempting to verbally describe a color. Though fairy tales are not all alike, they all share similar characteristics that separate them from other stories, primarily that they are full of magic, action, are miniature realities, and represent the time in which they were written in some way, either directly or indirectly.