- Amy MacKinnon
Snow White: A Christian Fairy Tale
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
This week’s Fairy Tale Summary is Snow White from the Brothers Grimm, showing some of the Christianity hidden in the story. Click on “Fairy Tale Summaries” in the keywords list to see a list of all of my posts where I give summaries of fairy tales.
The Summary of the Summary
This is a story about creation, the fall, death, resurrection, and salvation. Her stepmother, the queen, is the figure of the devil, especially the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and Snow White is a “type” of Eve in the story. She’s not Eve, and she’s not Jesus, but she “takes up her cross and follows” Him, just like Cinderella does.
An Image of Eve
Snow White is innocent, and she’s a child. It’s when she turns 7, the age of reason, that the mirror tells the Queen that Snow White is now the fairest in the land.
After Snow White flees for her life and lives with the 7 dwarfs, the queen comes to tempt her, and it’s by biting the apple that she finally dies. The dwarfs keep watch over her for 3 days.
She then sleeps for a very long time, until the Son of the King comes to rescue her, and she is resurrected from the dead.
The Queen of Envy
Pride and envy are the only sins that demons can commit directly, because every other sin requires a body, and they are pure spirits. The story tells us right in the beginning that the queen is filled with both of these vices. Her constant question to the looking glass,
Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, Who's the fairest of them all?
Is a sign of her vanity.
She has a mirror (or looking glass) that always tells the truth, but all she does is seek to be admired for her appearance.
And when the aging queen begins to have competition for her appearance, from a 7 year old girl, she has to destroy her.
The Huntsman and Snow White
When she sends the huntsman out with Snow White to kill her, he pulls out his knife to "pierce her innocent heart."
But he finds that he can’t kill her after all, so he lets her go.
Jesus has His heart pierced by the centurion, and He was perfectly innocent.
Here, Snow White, who is completely innocent, causes him to repent and let her go.
And when he does let her go, this is how the Grimm's version describes his response:
it seemed as if a stone had been rolled from his heart
A stone rolled from his heart?
This is a definite reference to the Resurrection of Christ.
The Huntsman is repenting of what he’s about to do, and avoids the act of murder—allowing her to go free.
And where does she end up?
In the Home of the Dwarfs
Dwarfs live and work underground, which is where the dead are.
But death in a story is also potential wisdom.
God, who is wisdom itself, is the author of life, so He also rules over death. An encounter with death in this story, and going to the place of the dead, is what Jesus did after He died on the Cross—and when He rose again from the place of the dead,
He conquered death.
In Snow White, her wicked stepmother tries to kill her 3 times, the third time with a poisoned apple.
When she eats the apple (just as Eve ate the forbidden fruit), she dies and the dwarfs have a wake for 3 days for her, but they can’t bear to put her in the ground.
Happily Ever After
The Son of the King—who is never called a prince in the version by the Brothers Grimm—sees her and falls in love with her.
The prince is definitely a symbol of Christ.
He has her carried in the glass coffin to his father’s house.
On the way, she coughs up the apple that was stuck in her throat and is “resurrected.”
But now that she’s with Christ, her body rejects the poison that killed her. That’s a reference to Mark 16:18:
if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them
So the poisoned apple is no longer able to harm her, and her body rejects it.
And her response is immediate: the previous two times the queen tried to kill her, the Grimms described it as “resuscitation” by the dwarves. So she had passed out, but was able to be revived.
This time the story doesn’t say that she’s “resuscitated,” but “resurrected,” because this time, she was truly dead.
They then marry, and live… happily ever after.
The Story Arc is Creation, the Fall, and Salvation
So there should also be a Final Judgment.
That’s certainly the reason for the harsh treatment of the evil queen who refuses to repent!
The question to ask yourself at the end of this story is:
Are They Still Alive?
Or are they dead and living in eternal life, which is the only place that people actually live happily ever after?
(Edited August 12, 2019)
I hope you enjoyed this short summary of the Christianity in Snow White!
If you’d like to delve even deeper into the Christianity found in this story, I have even more available here:
List of Posts in the "Fairy Tale Fridays" Series:
Women in Fairy Tales: Good or Bad?
Fairy Tales, Cautionary Tales, and Myths
How Are Fairy Tales Christian?
Cinderella: A Christian Fairy Tale
Snow White: A Christian Fairy Tale (this post)
Hansel and Gretel: A Christian Fairy Tale
Sleeping Beauty: A Christian Fairy Tale
Beauty and the Beast: A Christian Fairy Tale
Little Mermaid: A Christian Fairy Tale
Velveteen Rabbit: A Christian Fairy Tale
Why Are There So Few Fairies in Fairy Tales?
Fairy Tales and Multiculturalism