What Is the Moral of Snow White?

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The moral of the fable “Snow White” is that selfish desire is dangerous. In this folktale, a vain and jealous Queen arranges various tricks and deceits in order to kill her stepdaughter, Snow White, whom the magic mirror declares is the most beautiful woman in the world. The Queen almost succeeds in killing Snow White by offering her dangerous or poisonous gifts, but in the end, Snow White is saved and the Queen must face justice for her attempted murder.

In the original story published by the Grimm Brothers, the Queen makes four separate attempts to kill Snow White. First, she hires a hunter to take the girl into the forest, kill her, and bring back her lungs and liver as proof of her death. The hunter takes pity on Snow White, allows her to flee into the forest, and brings back the organs from a wild boar instead. Then the Queen attempts to trick Snow White with a bodice that is tied tight enough to suffocate her, a comb dipped in poison, and a poisoned apple. Snow White is saved from the bodice and the comb through the intervention of the seven dwarfs, but the poisoned apple puts her into a state of suspended animation, like death. A travelling prince awakens her (in the original, because of an accident that dislodges the apple from Snow White’s throat, and in the Disney film, because of the power of his kiss to break the magic spell). Thus, while Snow White’s story ends well, she is very nearly killed because she is seduced by the Queen’s tainted gifts. The Queen’s crimes, though, for which she is executed, are motivated by the selfish desire to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her vanity and narcissism lead to her downfall, further establishing the story’s moral.