If you were to poll the general population, you would find that Snow White is arguably the least popular of the Disney Princesses. (Perhaps tied with Pocahontas, depending.) But why is this? After all, she is the original Disney Princess, and her film created an industry.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated film.
- It was the first film ever to have a soundtrack recording.
- It is #10 on the Top Highest Grossing Films list, and it has won Oscars.
The movie changed the world as we know it, and has proven to be extremely successful. So why is its leading lady generally despised? Let's take a look!
The number one reason I usually hear is: her voice. Snow White is perhaps best known for her high Coloraturo Soprano voice. Many people consider it grating. But one has to consider the fact that, back when the film was made, this type of singing was far more popular than it is now. Perhaps part of why people tend to dislike it is because they simply aren't used to it. Another extremely important factor: Snow White is meant to be 14 years old during the events of her film. She's a child. Adriana Caselotti (the voice of Snow) purposefully made her voice higher when auditioning for Walt Disney, knowing that he was looking for someone young and youthful sounding. (She was 18 at the time, while Disney had already turned down several 14 year olds for sounding 'too mature'.) Thus, we learn that Disney was specifically looking for a very young, innocent voice for his princess. This was a character decision and vision that he had from the start.
This brings us to another reason Snow White is so misunderstood -- her personality. More often than not, you hear words like 'immature', 'whiny', 'weak', and 'annoying' when people talk about the original princess. I personally find her to be anything but. I feel like the people who think these things of Snow may be misunderstanding her character completely. So let's take a look at Snow White in depth, and see if we can correct those misunderstandings!
Snow White's mother died when she was born, according to most versions of the fairytale. Her father remarried, giving us Queen Grimhilde, the evil stepmother. At some point after, her father died as well. So already, at a very young age, Snow has been through a great deal. And as she aged and grew more beautiful, her stepmother probably began to give her an extremely difficult time. Ultimately, she became a maid in her own home. Let me run that by you again: the PRINCESS was made a MAID in her own home. Yet when we first meet Snow at age 14 in the film, we see that she is cheerful and kind, and that she makes the best of her situation. She could be bitter, she could be depressed, she could be mean, she could be 'whiny'... but she's not. She's simply a girl with a dream, and she lets that dream carry her through life, as it's really all she has left to her name.
Snow is taken to the forest by her stepmother's huntsman (who is probably someone she is familiar with already and trusts to a degree) and is nearly killed by him at the Queen's request. But the huntsman finds he cannot kill someone so young and innocent. When he hesitates, what does Snow do? She stops to speak with him and attempts to understand, still so gentle and kind, and does not run until she is ordered to -- after being told that her very own stepmother wants her dead. Now confused, betrayed, and terrified, the young girl runs into parts unexplored, her fear making the unknown seem all the more frightening. Eventually, she simply collapses, overwhelmed. I don't know about you, but after all that, I'd probably have a similar reaction. But after she pulls herself together, what does Snow do? She apologizes for the fuss she was making, admitting she's ashamed of herself for it. That's a big thing to admit most of the time for ADULTS, let alone little girls. But Snow realizes that "I'm sure I'll get along somehow. Everything's going to be alright." She takes control of the situation, and plans her next step: to find somewhere to sleep for the night.
From just this scene alone, we learn that Snow is wise for her years. She overcomes her fear, she puts things into perspective, and she assesses her situation. She knows she has to get a roof over her head before anything else. And when she comes across the dwarfs' cottage, she realizes she needs a bargaining chip to gain the acceptance of the owners. Using her experience with cleaning and cooking, she plans to trade her services for a vacancy. She doesn't expect free room and board just because she's a princess; she plans to work for it.
Charming little Snow wins the hearts of the dwarfs, though it takes some extra effort to win over Grumpy; she is making a pie just for him when the Hag arrives. When the birds attack the Hag, knowing her to be the Queen, Snow immediately puts everything aside to aid the old woman, never once thinking she might be trouble. (After all, Snow sees the best in everyone.) And when handed a 'magic wishing apple' by this kindly old crone, Snow thinks of her dream Prince, and allows herself this little fit of fancy. After all... she is but a love-stricken little girl. What would it hurt to make a wish over an apple, magic or not? If you were handed an apple by an elderly woman, would you think anything of it? Probably not.
While Snow probably should not have let the Hag into the house in the first place, she was merely being kind, for that is her nature. Again, I cannot help but stress: she could have been a Negative Nancy after everything she had dealt with in life, but she was the complete and total opposite. Whiny? No. She was frightened, but she acknowledged this and toughened up and took control of her situation. Immature? No. Snow showed her wisdom and maturity several times over the course of the film, such as when she sought shelter and when she bartered for that shelter. Weak? Again, no. Remember, you'd be terrified too if you had just found out someone you knew was trying to kill you! And for a fourteen year old who probably hadn't been out of the castle much, she certainly got things done. Annoying? In my opinion, no. Again, keep in mind that she's a little girl, and she may act like one (or sound like one) at times. But I don't think this is a fair word to use to describe her as a whole.
Snow White is definitely misunderstood. But hopefully this article has been enlightening to those who disliked her before. I encourage you, go watch the movie again! Give it a second chance. I bet it's been years since you've seen it. View it through new eyes. See if your opinion of the original princess changes. And be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about Snow in the comments below!