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The evolution of Snow White: A close textual analysis of three versions of the Snow White fairy tale

Dissertation
Author: John Hanson Saunders
Abstract:
The fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has endured hundreds of revisions and retellings throughout the last several centuries. Each version of this story carries with it traces of the author or authors and of the culture that produced that particular version. The meta-narrative must remain somewhat intact for any version to be recognizable as a variation of the Snow White tale. However, the elements that are added or subtracted by each author or authors make each version unique. This work presents a close textual analysis of three popular versions of the Snow White fairy tale. The focus of this work is not to just highlight how versions are different, but rather to isolate the unique variants of each version. Once separated from the meta-narrative, these elements can be examined for the rhetorical choices made by each author or authors. I make the claim that by looking at what changed over time within versions of this one specific tale; one can read aspects of the individual cultures that produced each version. I examine the first published version by the Brothers Grimm, the Walt Disney film, and the Michael Cohn film. These three versions are separated by one hundred and eighty-seven years and were produced in three very different cultures. I briefly present aspects of the three distinct cultures, changes made within the three narratives with analysis of those changes, and character studies for how each character was adapted for a new version. This evolution of the story and characters over time displays unique cultural traces present in each version that can allow rhetorical scholars to examine and understand possible cultural influences as they are manifest in one meta-narrative over time. This study explains how cultural traces can be seen in the variations between versions.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.....................................................................................................vii

Chapter 1 Fairy Tales as Unique Rhetorical Texts.................................................................1

The Choice of Snow White for Examination...................................................................7

Methodology....................................................................................................................13

Outline of Chapters..........................................................................................................17 Chapter 2 The Need for Close Contextual Analysis...............................................................20 Germany in the Early 1800s.............................................................................................23 Family......................................................................................................................24

Education and Religion............................................................................................26

Politics......................................................................................................................28

The Transition from the Oral Tradition to Print.......................................................30

The Brothers Grimm................................................................................................35

The Collective Germany..........................................................................................39

The United States in the Late 1930s................................................................................39 The Political Culture of 1930s America...................................................................40

The Great Depression...............................................................................................41

The General Need for Entertainment.......................................................................44

The Medium of Film................................................................................................45

Advertising and Merchandising...............................................................................49

Walt DIsney.............................................................................................................50

The Collective 1930s United States.........................................................................52

The United States in the Late 1990s................................................................................52 The New Role of Fathers in Film.............................................................................53

The Changes in the Children’s Film Genre..............................................................54

The Collective 1990s United States.........................................................................56

Conclusion.......................................................................................................................56

Chapter 3 Close Contextual Analysis of the Story.................................................................57 The Brothers Grimm Edition...........................................................................................62 Origin.......................................................................................................................64

Jealousy....................................................................................................................65

Expulsion..................................................................................................................66

Adoption...................................................................................................................67

Death........................................................................................................................68

Exhibition.................................................................................................................69

Resuscitation............................................................................................................70

Resolution................................................................................................................71

The Disney Edition..........................................................................................................72 Origin and Jealousy..................................................................................................76

Expulsion..................................................................................................................79

v

Adoption...................................................................................................................81

Renewed Jealousy and Death...................................................................................83

Exhibition, Resuscitation, and Resolution...............................................................85

The Cohn Edition.............................................................................................................86 Origin.......................................................................................................................89

Jealousy....................................................................................................................92

Expulsion..................................................................................................................93

Adoption...................................................................................................................94

Renewed Jealousy....................................................................................................95

Death........................................................................................................................95

Exhibition and Resuscitation....................................................................................97

Resolution................................................................................................................98

Conclusion.......................................................................................................................99

Chapter 4 Analysis of Individual Characters..........................................................................101 Snow White......................................................................................................................103 The Brothers Grimm Edition....................................................................................104

The Disney Edition...................................................................................................107

The Cohn Edition.....................................................................................................110

The Queen........................................................................................................................111 The Brothers Grimm Edition....................................................................................114

The Disney Edition...................................................................................................116

The Cohn Edition.....................................................................................................119

The Dwarfs.......................................................................................................................121 The Brothers Grimm Edition....................................................................................122

The Disney Edition...................................................................................................123

The Cohn Edition.....................................................................................................126

The King..........................................................................................................................127

The Huntsman..................................................................................................................129

The Prince........................................................................................................................130

The Magic Mirror.............................................................................................................132

Conclusion.......................................................................................................................133

Chapter 5 Conclusion..............................................................................................................135 The Culture......................................................................................................................135

The Medium.....................................................................................................................136

The Authors and Their Versions......................................................................................137

The Evolution of Snow White..........................................................................................140

Analysis............................................................................................................................141

Future Implications..........................................................................................................144

Conclusion.......................................................................................................................145

Bibliography............................................................................................................................146

vi

Appendix A..............................................................................................................................158 Scene Index for the 1811 B rothers Grimm Version.........................................................158

Appendix B..............................................................................................................................161 Scene Index for the 1937 Walt Disney Version...............................................................161

Appendix C..............................................................................................................................165 Scene Index for the 1997 Michael Cohn Version............................................................165

Curriculum Vitae.....................................................................................................................172

vii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I dedicate this work to my Grandmother. She always believed in me even though I encountered many o bstacles to get to this point. I know she is proud of me. I want to thank my family who has stood by me throughout this entire process. I also thank my friends who have been very supportive, especially Brett and Sally for their invaluable editing. I wish to thank my dissertation committee –Stephen H. Browne, Thomas W. Benson, Tony M. Lent z, and Steven L. Herb– for all of the guidance and assistance through my entire Ph.D. program. I have fallen down many times on this journey due to various events and circumstances. Each time, they allowed me the opportunity to stand back up and move forward.

Chapter 1 Fairy Tales as Unique Rhetorical Texts

“…of the entire “children’s literature” – with rare exceptions- nothing can be as enriching and satisfying to a child as t he folk fairy tale.” Bruno Bettelheim 1 The sheer quantity of narratives available to humans today is staggering and almost unfathomable. Categorizing these stories into genres that define both the stories and their target audiences would be a massive undertaking. Most books published today cater to specific genres, instead of having mass appeal. Every genre of literature now has sub-genres to better define the books themselves and their intended audiences. Rarely do narratives emerge that have mass appeal, accessibility, and adaptability to large audiences that span demographics. 2 Few stories in the history of narratives have been able to blur the lines between audiences and genres. However, many of the stories that have such wide appeal and recognition are fairy tales. 3 Fairy tales have existed and undergone thousands of changes over time. Barzilai states that these tales are “continually recreated.” 4 Few texts evolve with their audiences the way fairy tales do. Fairy tales are unique rhetorical texts; many texts that rhetorical scholars critique have not changed a single word since they were initially presented to the public. 5 The Gettysburg

1 Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 5. 2 The Harry Potter series is one of the rare narratives that has garnered recent mass appeal and accolade across ages, nationalities, races, genders, and other demographics. 3 This is not to say that all fairy tales have such mass appeal, accessibility, and adaptability to audiences. This also does not constitute a claim that most well known stories are fairy tales. 4 Shuli Barzilai, “Reading Snow White: The Mother’s Story,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society15, no. 3 (1990): 515. 5 Rhetorical scholars do not only examine static texts. However, most close textual analysis focuses primarily on specific texts or specific versions of a text, not a singular text that continually morphs to each new audience.

2 Address, for example, has remained unaltered since Abraham Lincoln spoke those famous words in 1863. In contrast, Jones notes that over four hundred versions of the Snow White fairy tale have been collected in the last five hundred years. 6 That is almost one version published per year since the earliest known publications of this story in the early sixteenth century. 7 Similar numbers of versions can be found in other fairy tales. 8 Such changes over time do not make the meta- narrative for these fairy tales flawed, or in need of work, but attests to their adaptability and longevity. Most iconic texts that rhetorical scholars examine do not need such continual revisions and may be seen as static in comparison. Fairy tales continually change and adapt, which is the primary factor that makes them unique rhetorical texts. Single fairy tales have changed characters, plot points, languages, and mediums from telling to telling. Versions of the Snow White fairy tale have been set in Germany, Ethiopia, Brazil, Japan, Russia, New York City, and many other locations. Some versions are very short and concise whereas other versions take hours to tell. These special types of narratives change with individual storytellers and individual audiences. They evolve and adapt. No other genre of narratives collectively moves with its audiences the way fairy tales do. Such texts provide rhetorical scholars with an interesting task because these texts are anything but static. One reason these texts have such mobility and adaptability is because they are rooted in the oral tradition. Jones states, “Since the tales circulated orally at the start, there are no exact or established versions, no identifiable versions, and no fixed titles. In oral tradition, fairy tales circulated over hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of years in multiple versions, adapted by different narrators in a style or manner specific to each narrator, often in different historical

6 Steven Swann Jones, The Fairy Tale: The Magic Mirror of Imagination (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995), 4. 7 Giovanni Batiste Basile’s Il Pentamorone is considered one of the first well known versions in 1637, but other versions were recorded sparsely before then. 8 The numbers of versions may not be as large as those for the Snow White tale, but select tales do have hundreds of versions.

3 circumstances.” 9 Although individual storytellers can claim their versions of these stories, no one can claim authorship for most of these tales. 10 Even with the few tales that have known authors, Jones continues to say the fairy tale “does not possess one single correct version; rather, there are a large number of renditions or inflections of the basic story, all of which are equally valid.” 11

Even though some versions of fairy tales, such as those by the Brothers Grimm or Walt Disney, are better known, they are not authoritative versions. The genre of fairy tales contains hundreds of narrativ es and hundre ds of versions of those narratives and the wide reach of this genre has spawned several misconceptions. Sheldon Cashdan discusses the three biggest misconceptions. 12 The first misconception is that fairy tales are children’s stories. Fairy tales were not told in the oral tradition or put into books for children until fairly recently. Terri Windling argues, “It is only within the last century that such tales were deemed fit only for small children, stripped of much of their original complexity, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight.” 13 One can see some of this by reading a few of the Brothers Grimm tales that have not been widely published or presented in books for children. 14 Problems can arise for the critic as a result of viewing of fairy tales as children’s stories. Some view fairy tales purely as children’s literature and, therefore, view them as less important than adult literature. Karlheinz Stierle presents a hierarchy of reading competencies that places adult literature at the top and children’s literature at the bottom. 15 Such an order devalues

9 Jones, The Fairy Tale, 3. 10 Some notable exceptions to this are Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen who each wrote many fairy tales. 11 Steven Swann Jones, The New Comparative Method: Structural and Symbolic Analysis of the Allomotifs of “Snow White” (Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1990), 37. 12 Sheldon Cashdan, The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 2-10. 13 Terri Windling, introduction to Tanith Lee, White as Snow (New York: TOR Books, 2000), 13. 14 Donkeyskin would be one such example that involves excrement made of gold, incest, murder, and magic. 15 Karlheinz Steirle, “The Reading of Fictional Texts,” trans. Inge Crosman and Thekla Zacharu, The Reader in the Text: Essays on Audience and Interpretation. Eds. Susan R. Suleman and Igne Crosman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), 83-105.

4 children’s literature. Tim Morris continues this argument by stating, “For Stierle, and for many literary theorists, children’s concerns are never as weighty as those of adults. High literature is at one pole of a continuum and the other pole is not occupied by bad literature as by children’s literature.” 16 Many academic theorists, unfortunately, make such assertions. The study of children’s literature, or texts that are considered part of that genre, is denigrated because they do not study texts worthy of criticism. Fairy tales written for children and adults are rich for criticism despite those who deem children’s literature unworthy of such attention. The second myth Cashdan dispels regards the Brothe rs Grimm. The Brothers Grimm did not write any fairy tales; they only compiled them in an effort to preserve the German oral tradition. 17 But they were not merely transcribers. The Brothers gathered the tales and then artfully pieced them together, which gives them a certain level of authorship. Hurlimann states, “Even for the first edition they did a lot of revising, comparing with other sources, and trying to find a simple language which was at the same time full of character.” 18 Editing like this is especially apparent in later editions, where the tales were changed strategically for younger audiences. 19 The final myth Cashdan debunks is that fairy tales teach moral lessons -- fables teach moral lessons, fairy tales do not. The purpose of fairy tales is to present human characteristics that are commonly seen and struggled with in the human condition. 20 Emotions like fear or anger, or having to face a difficult decision, are part of the human experience and, therefore, are integral parts of fairy tales. Audiences who hear these narratives can possibly see relevance in their

16 Tim Morris, You’re Only Young Twice (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 5-6. 17 Cashdan, 4-6. 18 Bettina Hurlimann, “Fortunate Moments in Children’s Books,” The Arbuthnot Lectures, 1970-1979, compiled by Zena Sutherland (Chicago: American Library Association, 1980), 61-80. 19 This would include removing elements of incest, toning down violence, removing the evil parent from many tales and replacing them with a stepparent, and removing some bodily functions. 20 Cashdan, 7-8.

5 lives, 21 but they do not necessarily take away specific lessons that fables teach. 22 Some audiences may learn great lessons from these tales, however, the primary focus of this genre is to mirror the human condition, not instruct. These myths damage or devalue such scholarship on fairy tales, which is why they must be addressed. Fairy tales have a deep seated place within culture. Bettelheim describes fairy tales, “not onl y as a form of literature, but as works of art… ” 23 Art has its own meaning for each individual, but it also has larger resonance when accepted by a culture. Fairy tales, whether created by a particular culture or borrowed from another culture, have played an integral part in shaping and preserving cultural values and ideals. Some fairy tales, called monogenesis stories, are products of specific cultures and hold a unique resonance with natives of that culture. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is one such example. We know the author and the originating culture. Polygenesis stories, on the other hand, possess more generalizable patterns that can be seen in a variety of stories originating from different countries. 24 Snow White is considered a polygenesis story. Maynard, McKnight, and Keady note that the basic patterns of the story can be seen in versions from Germany, Italy, Russia, Egypt, and many other countries from around the world. 25 The generalizable constants of the story appear in various forms of the tale from widely separated countries establishing Snow White as a universal story type where the elements that are present in most versions are core to the story.

21 Children learn about the struggle of good versus evil, the rewards that come with good deeds, and the punishment that come with evil deeds. 22 Fables teach specific lessons like the early bird gets the worm, do not talk to strangers, smart can beat strong, and other lessons like these. 23 Bettelheim, 12. 24 The use of both monogenesis and polygenesis as categories can be seen in the works of Stith Thompson, Motif-index of Folk Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exemple, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955), and Kathleen Glenister Roberts, “Texturing the Narrative Paradigm: Folklore and Communication,” Communication Quarterly 52, no. 2 (2004): 129-142. 25 Sally Maynard, Cliff McKnight, and Melanie Keady, “Children’s Classics in the Electronic Medium,” The Lion and the Unicorn 23.2 (1999): 186.

6 The status of the public that produces a version of a fairy tale can be imprinted onto the text. The problems of a society and how these problems are solved have influence on these narratives. Jack Zipes, a well-known authority on fairy tales, states, “The forms, shapes, and messages of folk and fairy tales are determined by the conflicts in cultural fields of production in the public sphere.” 26 Ronald Arnett and Pat Arneson further this argument: “When a story has enough coherence that it can be agreed upon by a group of people, it becomes public and is therefore a narrative.” 27 Any public must show some level of acceptance of a narrative, whether negative or positive, for the narrative to become part of the public dialogue. Such acceptance is consistent with Walter Fisher’s idea of “narrative fidelity,” which provides elements within stories that individuals can identify with. 28

Versions of Snow White began as personal stories because they originated in ora l cultures. After telling and retelling, these stories soon became public domain. The individual authors slipped into the past, but the stories remained because they were valuable to the continuing public. These stories provided a legacy to be passed down to entertain and preserve stories that had cultural significance. Passing these stories down was not just an attempt by one storyteller to preserve these tales while still in the oral tradition, like the Brothers Grimm in print. Rather, a story that was accessible and acceptable to a public would be retained. Thus, the story persisted from generation to generation. Halden is quoted saying, “For centuries storytellers have retold tales in their own ways, embellishing the storyline with details peculiarly representative of both the individual teller and his time.” 29 Each storyteller presents the tale with his or her own spin to make the tale appeal to the immediate audience. Halden seems to echo Plato’s claim that

26 Jack Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1979), ix. 27 Ronald C. Arnett & Pat Arneson, Dialogic Civility in a Cynical Age (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999). 28 Walter R. Fisher, “Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument,” Communication Monographs, 51 (1984), 10. 29 Judith Halden, “Barthelme’s Snow White: The Making of a Modern Fairy Tale,” Southern Folklore Quarterly 45 (1981), 145.

7 orators must know the souls of the audience. 30 Audiences exist in a particular historical and social context, so tales adapted specifically for them are easily woven into the cultural fabric. As a result, each telling leaves an imprint on the culture for which it was adapted. Although fairy tales belong to both individuals and cul tures, they can not be owned by either. These meta-narratives contain universal traits, personalities, and scenarios. Because fairy tales are so malleable, they are rich texts for rhetorical critics to examine because these narratives are, as Zipes notes, “rarely retold in the same way, always adapting to the environment and circumstances in which they were generated.” 31 Each version presents a consistent rhetoric from the meta-narrative as well as a variable rhetoric from the individual storyteller, the audience, and the context. These characteristics present a unique opportunity for rhetorical critics. The Choice of Snow White for Examination There are hundreds of fairy tales with hundreds of versions, but only a few dozen are widely known across many cultures. I have chosen to focus on the Snow White fairy tale for this study, and the reason is quite simple: Walt Disney. 32 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Disney’s first major motion picture. It was also the first major film that was completely animated and it represents a major landmark in film making. Although Disney went on to make many more animated films from fairy tales, this film will always stand out because it set the standard for the others that followed. Many in the United States today are most familiar with the Disney versions of fairy tales. Disney films have dominated the market on representations of fairy tales. 33 To

30 Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Christopher Rowe (New York: Penguin Classics, 2005), 271d. 31 Jack Zipes, Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre (New York: Routledge, 2006), 130. 32 For the rest of this study, the term “Disney” will be used to incorporate the man Walt Disney, the company and its employees that worked on the film. 33 Disney has done this through films, books, games, and a wide variety of other merchandising and mediums.

8 properly analyze popular versions of any fairy tale today, a Disney version must be considered due to the overwhelming success and popularity of these versions. Maria Tatar states, “Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has so eclipsed other versions of the story that it is easy to forget that hundreds of variants have been collected over the past century in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.” 34 Yet, as Cashdan notes about the Brothers Grimm, Disney was not a creator of fairy tales, but an adaptor of them. 35 The Snow White fairy tale has endured for centuries as both an adult and child’s fairy tale, making this, as Maynard, McNight, and Keady would say, a “classic work.” 36 Authors have made both subtle and grand changes to the aesthetics of the story. Despite the many changes made to suit different audiences, the story of Snow White remains popular. Such popularity may seem logical to those who only know the Disney version, but for those who know only the early Grimm version, this popularity may seem peculiar. Windling states, “Yet the Snow White theme is one of the darkest and strangest to be found in the fairy tale canon—a chilling tale of murderous rivalry, adolescent sexual ripening, poisoned gifts, blood on snow, witchcraft, and ritual cannibalism, in short, not a tale originally intended for children’s tender ears.” 37 The discrepancy between current understanding of this narrative and what was commonly thought of the same narrative before the Disney version is striking. These discrepancies provide another reason for choosing this tale.

34 Maria Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales, A Norton Critical Edition (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1999), 74. 35 Cashdan, 10. 36 Maynard, McKnight and Keady define a “classic work” with several conditions. The primary condition is enduring time and is contingent upon having meaning for more than one generation. See Sally Maynard, Cliff McKnight, and Melanie Keady, 186. 37 Terri Windling, “Snow, Glass, Apples: The Story of Snow White,” http://www.endicott- studio.com/rdrm/forsga.html (accessed 11/26/2006), 1.

9 The wide variety of different versions of the narrative by many different authors also makes the Snow White narrative an inviting text for analysis. 38 Jones notes that, “the history of Snow White scholarship may be viewed as a model of folktale research in general, as it moves from a concern with origins and influences, to a survey of collected versions and typology, and then to sociological and psychological analysis of the tale.” 39 The present study draws on the considerable scholarship surrounding the Snow White narrative from other academic fields, including folklore studies, literature studies, history, and sociology. My work offers a rhetorical perspective concerning how different versions communicate specialized versions of this one meta-narrative 40 , an approach which has not been discussed in existing literature. The Snow White fairy tale has achieved a wide range of diffusion am ong many different cultures. The resonance of the Snow White narrative seems to transcend national identity, language, and culture and allows the critic to examine Snow White not just as a narrative, but as an archetype. As such, it lends itself to a comparative approach, which this work will undertake. Although there are hundreds of versions of Snow White to choose from to analyze, this particular study will examine three very different versions of the Snow White fairy tale over one hundred and eighty six years. 41 Such an approach follows Jones’ work on Snow White: “In the case of ‘Snow White,’ there are over four hundred collected versions. Any interpretation of this folktale,

38 The term “authors” will be used for the rest of this study to describe the Brothers Grimm, Disney, and Michael Cohn. None of these people actually authored this tale, but they all produced very different adaptations of it. Since they did change the aesthetics of the story to fit a certain audience, I will call them authors. 39 Steven Swann Jones, “The Pitfalls of Snow White Scholarship,” The Journal of American Folklore, 92, no. 363 (Jan.-Mar., 1979), 70. 40 The meta-narrative is the consistent aspects of the Snow White fairy tale that are present and essential to the tale across tellings. 41 Using only three versions of the Snow White tale is a limitation of this study. However, the three versions that were chosen do represent three very distinct historical cultures and incorporate two versions that are the most well known.

10 therefore, should logically be based on a cross-section of versions in order to verify the broad applicability of the findings.” 42 I will examine three versions of the Snow White narrative. The first version is the 1811 Brothers Grimm version entitled “Schneewittchen,” 43 published in Kinder-und Hausmärchen. “Schneewittchen” is the first publication of this tale by the Brothers Grimm and it has many striking elements that were edited out for subsequent publications; many of the later publications were targeted toward children. Most scholarship concerning Snow White begins with this version because it was one of the first versions to exist in print and be widely accepted and popular. The initial Grimm version has also been the basis for many subsequent versions, including the other two versions in this study. The second version is the 1937 Disney film, Snow White and t h e Seven Dwarfs. As previously mentioned, this is one of the best known versions of the tale. Such enduring popularity is partially because it was Disney’s first major film and partially because it has been shown, sold, and merchandised many times during the last seventy years. Disney’s film challenged an emerging medium. Short cartoons had been made before, but never one this long or intricate. Special effects were limited in the 1930s and animation would allow for so many things to occur that live actions films could not produce at the time. In addition, this story was presented to an audience that desperately needed a distraction. Nugent, a newspaper film critic, said, “Wars are being fought as the picture unreels; crimes are being committed; hatreds are being whetted; riots are being brewed. But the world fades away when Mr. Disney begins weaving his spell and

42 Jones, The New Comparative Method, 37. 43 This is the original title for the Brothers Grimms versions in the German language. It will be referred to in English for the rest of this text.

11 enchantment takes hold.” 44 Because of its far reaching impact, any contemporary study of this fairy tale should include the Disney version. The final version to be analyzed is the 1997 Michael Cohn film version, S now W hite: A Tale of Terror. Cohn’s film was not critically acclaimed and was not even released in theaters. One reviewer of the film stated that the film was dumped from the movie studio because, “they could not conceive any interest in a film that told a children’s story in dark adult terms.” 45 The film was chosen because it is not a children’s film; rather it attempts to re-capture the darkness of the original Brothers Grimm version while making it presentable to a 1990s audience. Just as many of the early versions of Snow White were targeted towards adults, this film was also targeted to adults. Cohn’s film is entirely live action, relying heavily on special effects and make- up. These three versions represent a wide variety of media, characters, and plot points. Each version also has many traces of the culture and time that produced it. These traces, or what McGee calls “fragments,” will be examined for their worth to the particular version. 46 The Brothers Grimm version is dark, but it presents the tale before the Grimms made it more child- friendly in subsequent editions. However, this version is true to an early nineteenth-century Germany that was trying to establish its own nationality. The Disney film is completely child- friendly and omits many aspects of the Grimm version. Disney’s version gave Depression-era America a dose of light humor and song that Americans celebrated. 47 The Michael Cohn version tries to reclaim the darkness of the original Grimms narrative, creating a shocking film that tries

44 Frank S. Nugent, “One Touch of Disney: And New York Surrenders to the Genial Warmth of His ‘Snow White’ Fantasy,” The New York Times, 23 January 1938, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2004), 157. 45 Richard Scheib, review of “Snow White: A Tale of Terror,” http://www.moria.co.nz/fantasy/snowwhite97.htm (accessed 9/19/2007), 2. 46 Michael Calvin McGee, “Text, Context, and the Fragmentation of Contemporary Culture,” Western Journal of Speech Communication, 54 (54 (1990): 280. 47 This is not to say the rest of the world that viewed this film in the late 1930’s did not appreciate the film. See O. A. Lejeune, “Dopey is Adopted by John Bull,” The New York Times, 18 September 1938, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2004), 159.

Full document contains 180 pages
Abstract: The fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has endured hundreds of revisions and retellings throughout the last several centuries. Each version of this story carries with it traces of the author or authors and of the culture that produced that particular version. The meta-narrative must remain somewhat intact for any version to be recognizable as a variation of the Snow White tale. However, the elements that are added or subtracted by each author or authors make each version unique. This work presents a close textual analysis of three popular versions of the Snow White fairy tale. The focus of this work is not to just highlight how versions are different, but rather to isolate the unique variants of each version. Once separated from the meta-narrative, these elements can be examined for the rhetorical choices made by each author or authors. I make the claim that by looking at what changed over time within versions of this one specific tale; one can read aspects of the individual cultures that produced each version. I examine the first published version by the Brothers Grimm, the Walt Disney film, and the Michael Cohn film. These three versions are separated by one hundred and eighty-seven years and were produced in three very different cultures. I briefly present aspects of the three distinct cultures, changes made within the three narratives with analysis of those changes, and character studies for how each character was adapted for a new version. This evolution of the story and characters over time displays unique cultural traces present in each version that can allow rhetorical scholars to examine and understand possible cultural influences as they are manifest in one meta-narrative over time. This study explains how cultural traces can be seen in the variations between versions.