Grimm’s Fairy Tales were written by brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, in the context of the revived interest in the medieval past and storytelling with German Romanticism. For, as European society became increasingly urban, industrial, and literate, a burgeoning nationalism turned attention to folk culture. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has become a classic tale of innocence and good conquering evil. And, contrary to the Walt Disney movie, in the original Grimms tale, while she is being rescued by the Prince, Snow White coughs up the apple and is resurrected by expectorating, not by a magical kiss from the Prince.
Epitomizing the wisdom of generations of storytellers, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is one of Grimms' tales that provide what critics call "a first map of the territory of the imagination."
As a tale, "Snow White contains" figurative language especially similes, metaphor, and personification. Here are some examples:
I wish I had a daughter "as white as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony." Shortly thereafter, she gave birth to a beautiful baby whose skin was "as white as snow, whose cheeks were as red as blood, and whose hair was black as ebony."
As she grew, "even the birds in the trees and the animals in the woods adored her."
"However, the thick trees were like a wall around her"
"But they are beautiful apples and ever so juicy," said the velvety voice from outside the door.
There is a magic mirror that Snow White's stepmother addresses, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of them all?"
When the queen heard the mirror declare that Snow White is the "fairest," she "turned green with envy." The stepmother was "wild with jealousy"
At last "dawn woke the forest to the sound of the birds." Loud thunder echoed through the valleys and streaks of lightning ripped the sky.
In "Little Snow-White," by the Brothers Grimm, there are many literary elements.
The first is repetition: it is through this device that children are easily able to recount the high points of a story (such as "I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll bloooow your house down.")
There is repetition with the queen's question, "Mirror, mirror, who in this land is fairest of all?". Repetition is used to make a point. The witch's question is repeated throughout the story—it is important because to the wicked queen, this is what she cares about more than anything.
The reader will also note the presence of conflict: man vs. man, in the form of the mother pitted against her daughter.
The plot can be traced in the story (also known as dramatic structure or Freytag's pyramid), which includes the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. In this story, the introduction is learning about the queen, her wish for child, and the baby's birth. The rising action surrounds the child growing up and becoming more beautiful than her mother. We can also include her mother's order to have Little Snow-White killed, her escape, her life with the dwarfs, the queens repeated attempts to kill her, and Snow's "death." The climax occurs when Snow is brought back to life, and the resolution is Snow's marriage to the Prince ("and they lived happily ever after") and her mother's punishment.
Repetition is seen again as the dwarfs return home to find someone has disturbed their home (reminiscent of "Goldy Locks and the Three Bears"):
The first one said, "Who has been sitting in my chair?"
The second one, "Who has been eating from my plate?"
The third one, "Who has been eating my bread?"
The fourth one, "Who has been eating my vegetables?"
The fifth one, "Who has been sticking with my fork?"
The sixth one, "Who has been cutting with my knife?"
The seventh one, "Who has been drinking from my mug?"
We see symbolism in the story. The apple, which is poisonous and brings about death, can be seen to symbolize the apple in the Garden of Eden. Upon eating the apple, God told Adam and Eve they would surely die.
A symbol is something used to represent something else: in this case, the apple symbolizes death. In using it to symbolize death, it also can be seen as a dichotomy— the division of something into two equal and opposite parts. It is defined as:
A division into two opposing parts, such as...the dichotomy of good and evil in humans.
A perfect example is the witch's "gift:" The beautiful, red and shining fruit that cannot be resisted, which covers the evil and death hidden within. (Literally, only half is poisoned.)
In using the apple, there is an allusion to the story of Adam and Eve. An allusion is...
...a reference in a literary work to a person, place, or thing in history or another work of literature.
The mirror symbolizes the queen's ego.
Seven is said to symbolize "perfection, security, safety and rest." We see this in the seven dwarfs. Three is said to symbolize "harmony, wisdom and understanding." Some sources note that Snow-White's three deaths symbolize a rite of passage—the death of innocence and transformation into adulthood/understanding.
There are themes in the story; a theme is generally a life-truth the author is trying to share. One is that things are not always as they seem—especially as the witch disguises herself as harmless old women, the apple looks to be perfect and Snow-White seems to be dead.