Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 379
The first character we meet in the poem is Snow White, a "lovely virgin" who is thirteen years old. She has blue eyes, like a china doll, and white skin, and she is very beautiful. She is pure and "unsoiled." When she grows to be more beautiful than her stepmother, her stepmother orders her death, but the would-be killer, a hunter, lets Snow White go. She escapes into the forest and finds a cottage that belongs to the seven dwarfs; when they find her asleep there, they allow her to stay in exchange for housework. Despite their warnings, she is tricked by her stepmother, first with bodice laces that the older woman ties too tightly, causing Snow White to fall unconscious, and next with a poisoned apple. The speaker calls her a "dumb bunny" as a result of her gullibility and credulousness. The dwarfs don't want to bury her and hide her great beauty under the earth, so they put her in a glass coffin on display. When a prince falls in love with her apparently lifeless, but still beautiful, body, the dwarfs allow him to take her home. When the apple becomes dislodged, she awakens, marries the prince, and quickly grows attached to her mirror.
Snow White's stepmother, the queen, takes great pride in her appearance, such that the "Pride pumped in her like poison." She feels that her only value lies in her beauty, and as she is "eaten . . . by age," her beauty diminishes so that she is supplanted as the "fairest" by her stepdaughter, Snow White. She plots to kill her stepdaughter so that she can resume her superiority. However, she is ultimately punished terribly for her attempts on Snow White's life, forced to dance in "red-hot iron shoes" until she fries "upward like a frog."
The seven dwarfs take Snow White into their home, and they give her room and board while she does all the housework. They, too, prize her beauty and put her in a glass coffin after she dies in order that everyone can "peek" in at her. The prince grows enamored of Snow White after her death, as he can see her beautiful dead body though the glass of her coffin. In the end, he marries her and punishes her stepmother.