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The Queen poisons Snow White, Franz Jüttner, 1905

The Queen is a fictional character in the German fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, collected by the Brothers Grimm, and adapted by the Disney into an animated film.

The Queen is extremely beautiful, but highly narcissistic. She seduced and married a widowed king, who had a daughter called Snow White with his first wife. After the king died, the Queen sent Snow White to work in her castle and forced her stepdaughter to abandon her title as Princess, similar to the situation of Cinderella.

Contents

Fictional character history

The German fairytale was collected by the Brothers Grimm in their 1812 Kinder- und Hausmärchen ("Children's and Household Tales"). In the first edition, though not the subsequent ones, the Queen is Snow White's biological mother, not stepmother.[1]

In the Grimm version, the Queen orders her Huntsman to take Snow White (or Snowdrop as she is called in the first edition[1]) into the forest, and bring her back her lungs and liver as proof that he has killed her. The Huntsman takes pity on Snow White, and instead brings the Queen the lungs and liver of a boar, which she eats, believing them to be Snow White's.

The Queen eventually discovers that Snow White has survived by questioning her magic mirror. She dresses in a disguise in her later attempts to kill Snow White. First, she visits the dwarves' house as an old peddler woman, and sells Snow White laces for a corset; but laces them tightly to asphyxiate her. When that fails, she returns as a different old woman, and tricks Snow White into using a poisoned comb. Finally when the comb fails to kill her, she visits again as a farmer's wife, and gives Snow White a poisoned apple.

After Snow White and the Prince reveal her true nature, she is invited to their wedding, where she was forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and "dance until she dropped down dead."[2]

Disney version

The Evil Queen
QueenSnowWhite.jpg
Walt Disney version of the Queen
First appearance Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Created by Walt Disney Pictures
Voiced by Lucille La Verne (Original Movie)
Louise Chamis (House of Mouse)
Aliases Evil Queen, Wicked Queen, Queen Grimhilde

The film version of the Queen was often referred to as Queen Grimhilde in Disney publications of the 1930s, and was voiced by Lucille La Verne. The Queen ranks #10 in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time.[3]

A vain and proud beauty, the Queen gained her royal position by marrying a widowed king who died soon after marrying her. The Queen had a magical mirror with which she could look upon whatever she wished. The Magic Mirror shows a haunted, smoky face which replies to the Queen's requests. She regularly asks the Mirror who is the fairest in the land ("Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"), and the Mirror always replies that she is. One day, the Mirror tells her that there is a new fairest woman in the land, her stepdaughter, Snow White. After observing the handsome Prince, singing a love song to Snow White, the Queen, in a jealous rage, orders her huntsman Humbert to take the Princess deep into the forest and kill her. He is ordered to bring back her heart in a box to prove that he had done so. Humbert could not bear to kill the young princess, so he tells her to run away and never to return. In order to escape the penalty, he returns with a pig's heart and gives it to the Queen. When she questions her Mirror, it again replies that Snow White is the fairest in the land, and that she is living at the cottage of the seven dwarfs.

Furious, the Queen goes down into the dungeon laboratory and mixes a potion that turns her into an old peddler woman. Her beauty is shrouded in ugliness; a true image of twisted evil. This appearance of the Queen is commonly referred to as The Witch. She then conjures a poison apple which holds death-like sleep inside it, and proceeds to leave the castle. She is sure that no one would know or perform the counter-curse to her spell, and believes the dwarfs would bury Snow White alive, believing she was dead.

The Queen comes to the cottage, followed by two vicious buzzards, and finds Snow White baking a pie for Grumpy the dwarf. Somehow, Snow White's animal friends realize that the old hag is the Queen. After an unsuccessful attempt to warn Snow White by attacking the Queen, they go to warn the dwarfs of the Queen's arrival. The Queen tricks Snow White into letting her inside the cottage and eating the poisoned apple, telling her that it is a magic wishing apple. Snow White takes a bite and falls to the floor, apparently dead. The Queen rejoices in her victory, but is soon discovered by the Seven Dwarves, who chase her deep into the forest as a great storm started. She climbs up into the mountains, where she stands upon a precipice, that overlooks a seemingly bottomless canyon, and attempts to push a large boulder onto the dwarves with a large stick. Just then, a bolt of lightning strikes between her and the boulder, destroying the precipice and sending her evil majesty (along with the boulder), falling to her death. As the dwarves look wide-eyed over the cliff's edge, the buzzards fly past, to pick at the evil queen's remains.

In a cut version of Snow White, the Queen captured the Prince and held him captive in her dungeons where she made skeletons dance and torment him. This scene didn't make it into the final cut but did provide an inspiration for a scene in the Disney adaptation of Sleeping Beauty.

Other appearances

The Queen has made other appearances in various Disney media. She would go on to make frequent appearances in Disney comics, where, under the alias the Witch, she regularly antagonized Disney characters like Chip 'n Dale or Tinkerbell. There was even an Italian story explaining how she had survived her apparent death in the movie, and why she could not change back to her normal self. In these stories she is called Grimilde. In the night-time fireworks and visual hydrotechnic show Fantasmic!, the Queen is the leader of the Disney Villains that appear near the climax of the show. In the "The Disney Villains Mix and Mingle" stage show in Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Queen is one of the villains led by Maleficent that appear during the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. She is featured in television specials like Our Unsung Villains and Disney's Greatest Villains, and segments of the Queen's appearance are shown in Disney's Halloween Treat and in A Disney Halloween. The Queen also makes a cameo in Mickey's House of Villains, and is seen sitting with Lady Tremaine in her queen form, and with Madam Mim and Witch Hazel in her witch form. The Queen is one of the four Disney Villains that appear in the Disney's Villains' Revenge video game. Jiminy Cricket and the player venture into the worlds of the stories to correct the happy endings, which have been altered by the villains themselves. In the altered story, the Queen has built a giant house resembling her infamous poisoned apple and has put Snow White to sleep and intends to do the same to the seven dwarves. She also makes a cameo in her witch version, along with Snow White in Toontown in Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She is slated to appear as an antagonist in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, recruiting Terra to help her deal with Snow White in return of giving him the means to find Master Xehanort.

Other versions

A Tale of Terror version

The film Snow White: A Tale of Terror was an attempt to make a more "realistic" story. There the character is not a Queen, but rather a noblewoman named Lady Claudia played by Sigourney Weaver. Also, while portrayed as a tragic character, she is a far more malignant character than in any other version. It is probably the most faithful to the original story.

She starts out by marrying widower Frederick Hoffman, a man whom she dearly loves. She also seeks to befriend his daughter, Lilliana. They at first get along well — she gives her a puppy and plays with the girl's caterpillar friends — but Lilliana grows suspicious. That suspicion is vindicated when she sees her grandmother die in agony after seeing a mirror that had belonged to Lady Claudia's mother. From that, her comments about casting the runes early on, her mentioning that "they" hate her and her mother's kind, and that Snow White is a German fairy tale she might be a holdout of Germanic paganism hiding in a Christian world.

By the time Lilliana is a teenager, she and her stepmother despise each other. For example, when the people of the manor bless Lord and Lady Hoffman's marriage bed so that their consummation might be fruitful, Lilliana throws the holy water at Claudia's face. By the ninth year of her marriage to Lord Hoffman she is pregnant with a son. The night of the celebratory dance, she offers Lilliana the dress she had worn as a maiden but the daughter refuses. When she arrives at the dance, she wears her birth mother's dress and dances with her father. With Frederick Hoffman, and all the others, turn away from his wife for his daughter — and his first wife's memory — the enraged Lady Claudia suffers such a severe rush of stress that she collapses and goes into labor. The baby is stillborn.

Driven mad by grief, she turns to her magic mirror for reassurance, but sees her reflection distorted and deformed. The mirror blames Lilliana for the baby's death and with that Claudia plots her stepdaughter's death. Lilliana goes to play in the forest, and Claudia sends her mute, inbred brother to kill her. When she escapes, the brother kills a pig and gives his sister the organs of proof of the deed. Lady Claudia serves part of the organs as a stew which she eats with sexual, cannibalistic relish. She also dances as she smears herself with the rest of the bloody organs. When her mirror tells her that her stepdaugher is alive, she uses her black magic to murder her brother by means of forced suicide.

On learning Lilliana's whereabouts by means of her ravens, Lady Claudia tries to kill her and the seven miners with whom she hides by means of her witchcraft. She first buries a bird in the falling sand of an hourglass to cause a cave-in at the mine. She fails to kill Lilliana but succeeds at killing a miner. Later she pushes over and breaks her husband's statues of the Saints to make the trees in the miner's forest home fall over and hopefully break her stepdaughter. She fails and instead kills more miners. She then takes the mirror's advice; that advice being to kill her stepdaughter with the Serpent's fruit: the apple. Using magic to turn herself into a hag, Lady Claudia poisons Lilliana, placing her in a coma.

With Lilliana thought dead, Lady Claudia turns her attention inward, trying to seduce Lilliana's fiancee, Peter Gutenberg, and raping her husband as a prelude to human sacrifice in an attempt to revive her dead baby. The actual ritual itself is performed inside the manor chapel, Lady Claudia bringing her sacrificial victim before the image of the crucified Jesus Christ in order to profane Christian soil. She also bewitches every last servant of the manor house, turning them into her monsters. When her stepdaughter at last is healed, she, Gutenberg, and Will, the chief miner, confront Lady Claudia. Peter is killed and Lilliana finds her father crucified upside down opposite the figure of Jesus on a life-sized crucifix now hanging upside down by a chain from the manor chapel's ceiling.

After seeing this, Lilliana confronts her stepmother. A fight ensues during which a fire is started. Lilliana ultimately kills her evil stepmother by stabbing her image in the mirror, causing Claudia to rapidly age. As Claudia screams in horror the mirror explodes and the shards of glass strike Claudia who screams in horror and blunders into the flames, catching fire. She flails around in agony until she is finally crushed by falling debris.

GoodTimes adaptation

In the GoodTimes Entertainment adaption of Snow White, the story follows mostly the same as the original story, only the Queen uses magic to disguise herself, turning into an old peddlar woman and trying to strangle Snow White with laces, then as an old peddlar man who gives her poison comb, then as a young girl selling apples. The Queen believes she has finally killed Snow White, until the day she leaves for a wedding being held in the city. Before she leaves, the Queen asks her mirror who the loveliest woman in the kingdom was, and she is horrified to learn that it is Snow White, still alive, whose marriage is the very one she was about to attend. In a fit of rage, the Queen begins to smash all the mirrors in her throne room, before throwing a hand mirror at her magic mirror, when the magic mirror sucks the hand mirror in. The voice in the mirror begins to suck the horrified Queen in, taunting her for her attempts to murder her stepdaughter and telling her she will never see her own face again. The Queen is last seen banging on the other side of the glass before disappearing.

Queen of Fables

The Queen of Fables is a witch from DC comic books. She was a scheming villainess who in her youth wrought Hell on Earth until she was trapped in a book by her own stepdaughter, Snow White. Centuries later, she was freed accidentally by Snow White's descendants and has since faced many Justice League superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman whom she thought was Snow White due to her great beauty.

Christine White

In the 2000 miniseries The 10th Kingdom the main villain is Christine White. After the events in the story of Snow White, the Evil Queen, who was left near death fled to Earth where she met Christine Lewis, a jealous, adulterous madwoman who was addicted to prescription drugs. After almost killing her daughter in a psychopathic rage, Christine accompanied the Queen to the realm of the Nine Kingdoms and was groomed by the undead Evil Queen (now known as the Swamp Witch) to be her successor and the means by which she would have revenge. Christine insinuated herself into the House of White, first as the nanny of Snow White's grandson, Prince Wendell White, and later as Wendell's stepmother, after having poisoned his mother. Prior to the events of the miniseries, Christine was finally imprisoned for the subsequent poisoning death of Wendell's father. As The 10th Kingdom begins, she escapes to cause further destruction, and at the climax of the series she is killed by the main protagonist, her daughter, Virginia.[4]

Snow White (TV film)

In the 2001 TV film Snow White: The Fairest of Them All, the Queen is a power hungry hag named Elspeth, one of a race of strange humanoid creatures. She is transformed into a beautiful queen by her brother, the Green-Eyed Granter of Wishes. As in all versions of the story she grows to envy her stepdaughter, Snow White. Rather than disguising herself as an old crone she disguises herself as a young woman resembling Snow White's mother and succeeds in poisoning the young princess with a poisonous apple. She also has a habit of turning dwarves into stone statues with which she decorates her palace. Her fate is even more ignominious than in most versions of the story. At the climax of the film she becomes a withered old crone once again and is later throttled to death by the numerous dwarves whom she had turned to stone who have been released from her spell.

The Evil Queen in popular culture

  • In Terry Gilliam's fantasy film The Brothers Grimm, Monica Belluci plays a villainous character modelled after the Queen. Known as the Toringian Queen (also known as the Mirror Queen) she is extremely vain, obsessed with preserving her youth and beauty and being the fairest in the land and has a gigantic mirror in her chamber.
  • One of the main antagonists in the Sailor Moon manga and anime, Queen Nehellenia is based on many evil sorceresses from fairy tales, with a particular emphasis on the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Snow Queen. Like the Snow Queen and the Evil Queen she has a large magic mirror and like the latter she is extremely vain and arrogant.
  • In "Mirror Mirror", by Gregory Maguire, the Queen and Witch are portrayed as Lucrezia Borgia.
  • This fictional character appeared in Snow White and the Three Stooges. She was played by Patricia Medina in the film.
  • Ellen Reid's 2001 debut album Cinderellen features the song "In Defense of the Wicked Queen", which tells the story from the Queen's perspective.
  • In The Berenstain Bears book Trick or Treat, Queenie dresses as the Wicked Queen for Halloween.

References

  1. ^ a b Terri Windling, "Snow, Glass, Apples: the story of Snow White"
  2. ^ Brothers Grimm (2002). "Little Snow White". The Complete Fairy Tales. Routledge Classics. ISBN 0415285968.  
  3. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains
  4. ^ Simon Moore, The 10th Kingdom, DVD, directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise, New York: Hallmark Entertainment, 2000.

External links








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