Saturday, 11 February 2017

My take on Snow White

               Creating a new label/tag for this blog : Books Reviews... and this is my first post of it. Being accustomed with books since my early years, I loved to quench my imagination with reading. Hence, I thought how great would it be to share my two cents with others :) Well, to commemorate this new blog tag, I would review my favourite book as a little girl and how different I see it now that I've grown up. 

                 As a young girl, my books preference comprised of princesses’ adventures, and of course , my favourite character of all was Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Snow White according to my eyes, was a very demure character. As she has lost her mother, it is understandable that she was not exposed to what are the do’s and don’t’s in life. She relies on her instinct most of the times. When she meets the seven dwarfs, she trusts her intuition and says yes to their each and every requests. She also does not mind at all when asked to do the house chores. As a kid, I found it very intriguing as doing house chores was another burden I wished not to carry. Thus, reading Snow White, I saw the joy of doing chores by pretending to be surrounded by the dwarfs ; that is how influential Snow White was to me during the old days.

                 However, when I went through the pages of my once the most favourite fairytale again at the age of 22, I came out with a conclusion that I was indeed a very naive kid. I wouldn't dare to criticise the book as a bad one as Snow White and the Seven Dwarf appears to most people as the milestone to one of many fairytales from decades ago; but it becomes apparent to me that some of the depictions might be contrasting to my principles these days, mainly in the manifestation of the stereotypical characters' traits in it. 

                   The first thing which occurred to my mind after rereading this book is that, jealousy and beauty are what propel the story. The step mother, known to all as the wicked Queen, was willing to go to the extent of killing an innocent young girl, just so she can claim her status as the most beautiful lady of all. The Queen was extremely fond of her fairness, taking narcissism to another level. Personalities which are related to this disorder are manipulativeness, selfishness and vanity; which are no difference to the Queen ! As she ordered her huntsman to bring back Snow White’s liver as the proof, it verified how manipulative and cunning she could be. Her desperation had driven her to a few other sinister schemes when her first plan failed, proving that beauty and rage is the core idea of this book. It struck me as and adult reader if the hidden message is actually ‘You are beautiful if you are fair’ and there is no bad consequences related to the fairness at the end of this book as the manipulative Queen only fell into the chasm. This corrupting influence is portrayed again in the manifestation of Snow White’s character.

                       When the huntsman freed Snow White because apparently she was “too pretty to be killed” , I learned how the dogma of beauty is slowly being induced into our gullible little minds. Snow White is a very fair girl, with crimson-red ruby lips and pitch-black hair, which gave us an impression that her appearance is the definition of beauty when the truth is, beauty is subjective. I too, as a kid , fell into this trap and held onto this credo, leading me to endless efforts to be as fair as what the denotation holds. I am well aware that girls are more inclined to pretty things and I did enjoy touching up here and there but I see no reason why we should be ruled by it. I also believed that people will be nicer to you if you are pretty but now that I have met various kinds of people, no, beauty is not the only ticket for you to win others’ hearts. There are still more beyond that. Beauty for me now, is when you are able to love every inches of your flaws, flaunt it with pride and still make people fall in love with you for who you are;- not merely based on the looks. To be exposed to this kind of mentality at a tender age is not a good quality you wish to take along as you are about to embark into your youth, so I wish this stigma can be erased from our culture these days. It is because we are far deep into this belief that we have composed a generation of the wicked Queen and Snow White;- people who have greed on beauty and people who think that beauty can save them.

                  As the narration proceeded to where she eventually met the seven dwarfs , the pernicious gender stereotype was pretty apparent and as a kid, I was enlightened by this narrow thought. For the ingenuous me, it's in women’s nature to be as domesticated as possible and mothers the members of the house. When a girl in her age is supposed to be going to schools and get herself educated, Snow White on the other hand was running errands for the dwarfs. Not to mention, she spent most of her time day dreaming and nagging. I realize how contradicting this trait is compared to Belle in The Beauty and The Beast , only after I reread the book. As my 6 years old self indulged upon this unfathomable ideology, it was to no surprise that my younger self was once convinced that girls were supposed to be capable of juggling tasks. The little kid in me seemed to find no drawback in this matter as that was the kind of mentality I clung to from reading such book, providing I only have girl siblings, I did not know how to compare the conventional values of each genders.

                    Growing older, I began to realize that it is a progressive world and both men and women are capable of doing things they wished to. If and only Snow White was a little bit smarter, she might be capable of fighting the evil Queen instead of wandering in the dark enchanted forest, crying for her life. I wonder if her life might as well as ended there, due to her lack of conscience. In fact, the story will come to a very quick ending if it is not due the sympathy offered by the Queen’s huntsman. Therefore, it is crystal clear that women were seen as an impotent entity back in those days where the setting of this story took place. They are depicted as day dreamers, hoping for the mercy of others and expecting the alpha males to save them. The bourgeois has long bestowed us with this perception and it is on us now to change the conventional perspective. In this contemporary era however, a woman is not entitled to only doing house chores and wait for the man to provide for them, for we have the same right for education now. I am sanguine that changes begin with us feeding our children with a more appropriate storylines and visions. It would be good too if parents can read this book to their kids and question them if these issues are still relevant. 

                    Last but not least, just like the rest of the tales, there are significances of sorcery and magic in this book. Regardless of how some people perceive fantasy books as an inferior quality to realism, I am in consummate discord with that dispute. I was ingrained with reading as an escapism from the real world and hence, when I read, I expect myself to envision the world beyond my reach and work on my creativity. Thus, when some books are made into movies, I noticed that every people have different ways in viewing the books and hence, evoked the phrases, “The book is much better than the movie” and “This is not how I imagined it to be.” It is considered hard to project what is in your head as it surpasses the bounds of possibility. Indeed, realism is the salient element in this life, so that we will be more prepared of what to expect next but magic also prompts young readers to see the world in different ways. Furthermore, the beauty of imagination is that it can provide you with sparks of hope and make our life more adventurous yet enchanting. Not only that, the magic part has also taught me a lot in shaping my personality that I am today. As an example, when the Queen spoke to the mirror and the mirror replied her back, I was assured that objects around us were capable of emotions. They have certain ideas of certain things. As a result, I involuntarily learned about empathy; having to put yourself in the other’s shoes and to consider their opinions too because no matter how sure you are, you might not know everything.

                      Thus, it is precise to say that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has a lot to offer me as a young reader and the most compelling reason is the creative and appealing melodrama. The Queen taught us that one has to be extra mindful in planning and Snow White made us see how good wins over evil by being gentle. The cliché ending also made us believe that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and to remain positive in spite of the sufferings we have to endure. Reading Snow White was enjoyable and it still is but with more knowledge now, there are a lot I can question from the oeuvre. Although the flaws and stereotypes could be derived from societies back in the old days, we cannot deny the beauty of friendship in it and how it has engraved another world of escapism within us. This classic piece of tales is undeniably an excellent antidote to a bumpy childhood.

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