The Evil Queen
Everyone knows the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – and of the evil queen who, after looking at herself in a magic mirror, tried to give Snow White a poisoned apple.
But did you know that much of the story is true?
According to a one version of the fairy tale, Snow White was too pretty! An older woman got so jealous that she wanted to get rid of her younger rival.
That was the original story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” by the Brothers Grimm, who wrote many fairy tales that have become well-known classics.
What makes the tale terrifying was that the stepmother did not want to give Snow White an apple.
She wanted to eat her liver!
In the original story, when Snow White turned seven years old, the stepmother ordered a hunter to take Snow White into the woods to kill her. She demanded he bring back the little girl’s liver, lungs, and heart.
The hunter brought back Snow White’s organs. The wicked stepmother cooked them and ate them, then asked the magic mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the loveliest of them all?”
The mirror replied, “Snow White!” And laughed at the evil queen.
The hunter had not brought back the little girl’s liver, heart, and lungs. They were the organs of an animal.
Snow White was still alive!
And so was a little German girl named Maria Sophia von Erthal. Born in 1725, she was the young sister of the powerful Archbishop of Mainz, Germany.
When Maria Sophia’s mother died in 1743, her father married a countess. He gave his new wife a mirror made in his glassware factory. The gift still exists: You can view it in the Spessart Museum.
According to the Brother Grimm’s fable, the evil stepmom made three more attempts to kill Snow White, who had been warned off by the kindhearted huntsman and then found safety by living with seven dwarves.
The stepmom first disguised herself as a wandering peddler and persuaded Snow White to try on a bodice – a blouse fastened using strings instead of buttons. The stepmom laced the bodice so tight that Snow White had trouble breathing. Luckily, the dwarves returned home in time to cut her loose.
Said to be a witch, the stepmom then crafted a poisoned comb and tricked Snow White into using it. The dwarves returned home to find her paralyzed and again rescued the youngster by removing the comb from her head.
The stepmom next got Snow White to bite into the gift of a poisoned apple. Thinking her dead, the dwarves placed the girl in a coffin. When they accidentally dropped it, the poisoned apple piece fell out of Snow White’s throat and she recovered.
The stepmom was eventually caught and punished in the Brother Grimm’s tale. But there was no ‘happily ever after’ marriage to a prince for the real-life Maria Sophia. She lived until age 71 in a poor convent. Her gravestone from 1796 is featured with the gift mirror in the Spessart Museum, in Lohr Castle on the Main, in Germany.
The Evil Queen Activity 1
Draw and label syntax trees for the following sentences:
- Queens have magic mirrors.
- Stepmoms poison combs.
- Dwarves rescue princesses.
- Writers pen classic fairytales.