The Real Snow White Story Isn’t As Gentle As Disney Portrayed It

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By: Olawale Ogunjimi | Published: Aug 16, 2023

The classic fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, teaches kids that good always trumps evil. This favorite is one children’s story that has been passed from generation to generation since Walt Disney made it into a full-length animated film for the first time in 1937.

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We don’t mean to spoil your childhood memories, but what if we told you that the original Snow White story was grimmer than Disney made it look? Come along, we’ve got a shocking discovery for you ahead in this post.

The Grimm Brothers

The original story, Little Snow White, along with Cinderella, Rapunzel, and other Disney classics, was written by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The pair drew inspiration from traditional oral folktales, and compiled the stories into the Nursery and Household Tales collection.

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However, this title is counterintuitive—the book was X-rated because it contained sex, incest, violence, and the like. For example, the original Cinderella has it that the stepsisters fit into the glass slippers after they cut off their toes and heels. Pretty gruesome!

Little Snow White

In the original version, Snow White was young (seven years old), and the evil queen requested her internal organs be brought with when she asked the hunter to kill her. It read, “Kill her, and as proof that she is dead bring her lungs and liver back to me.”

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The huntsman didn’t do that, though. Instead, he brought back a boar’s liver and lungs, which the cook boiled in salt and the queen ate in relish.

The Queen of Tricks

In the Grimm brothers version, the wicked woman tricked Snow White three times. First, Snow White passed out after the queen made her wear an overly tight corset. The second time, Snow White also passed out from the poisonous comb given to her. Finally, she was tricked with the poisonous apple, just like in the Disney version.

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However, the original story also has it that when the prince noticed the “mistaken-for-dead” Snow White in the glass bottle, he insisted on taking her away. As the dwarfs carry her coffin, one of them trips, jolting Snow White from her sleep. Unlike in the Disney adaptation, her revival wasn’t influenced by the prince’s kiss.

A Fairytale Ending

In the book version, the queen’s demise happened at Snow White’s wedding, where she was sentenced to dance to her death. The story goes, “They put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead.”

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So, yes, the Snow White told by Disney that you’re familiar with was a sanitized version of the original story—and we (and our children) are grateful for that.