Grimm's Fairy Tales

Portrayals of Curiosity in Grimm’s “The White Snake” & “Little Snow-White” College

The Grimm brothers’ widely-known collection of fairy tales includes two especially significant stories: “Little Snow-White” and the lesser-known “The White Snake.” The main characters of each tale are, respectively, Snow White, a beautiful young princess, and an unnamed, lowly, but handsome servant boy. Though each tale has a similarly happy ending--the protagonists marry amicably and into (or back into, in the case of Snow White) royalty--Snow White and the servant arrive at their conclusions in exceedingly different ways. Both characters strongly display the trait of curiosity, but one is rewarded for it, while the other is punished. The underlying reason behind this difference is, of course, their respective genders. It seems that, in fairy tales, women are constantly punished for their curiosity, whereas men always reap the rewards.

Most people are highly familiar with the tale of Snow White, in which a jealous stepmother tries in vain to have her young step daughter killed because of her immense beauty. While Snow White’s defining characteristic is certainly her beauty; in the Grimm’s tale, she displays a distinct sense of curiosity as well. The twelve dwarves with whom she resides after her escape command her to “be sure...

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