A couple of weeks ago I gave a brief picture of what Sleeping Beauty might look like, grafted onto the story of God and in terms of salvation in Jesus. There are some parallels between that story and this, but there are also some marked differences, so I’d like to look at Snow White today, briefly.
Consider the story of Snow White. At the start of Snow White’s story, she lives in a realm ruled by her stepmother. Her stepmother is vain enough to daily consult her mirror and espy her competition as fairest in the land. She does what she can to destroy the competitor that she finds out, and is tricked into a false self-security. Instead, the object of her wrath, the step-daughter, makes her way into the woods where she finds rest and shelter with the seven dwarfs. When the evil queen finds out, she gives up whatever claim to “fair”ness that she ever had and comes to destroy the young princess. Snow White eats the poisoned apple and falls into the sleeping death, in which she remains – encased in glass – until her prince comes to rescue her with his kiss.
Now, there are some parallels with Sleeping Beauty: the princess falls into a sleep that can only be overcome by true love’s kiss (a sleep that is a kind of live death). There is a prince who provides this kiss. Where do you see yourself in this story, though? How do you think it tells the story of salvation in Jesus, however imperfectly or insightfully?
The traditional interpretation of Isaiah 14, which is a taunt against Babylon, is that it refers to Satan. The view of Satan, or Lucifer, is that he is a fallen angel – he believed his beauty, which the Scriptures seem to affirm as being great, to be the most wondrous. Perhaps he even elevated himself above God Himself. So there’s good reason to associate Satan with the person of the queen – vain, and vainly comparing herself to others. Whether the mirror spoke back or not, when the queen looked in the mirror she saw that she didn’t meet the beauty of Snow White, and she wasn’t happy. In a similar vein, humans were made in the image of God – that’s something that angels don’t have; it’s the thing that confirms what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, that we will judge the angels. How could a vain and prideful angel of beauty stand to compare himself against humans, lower than angels in power and yet higher in stature of the created order?
So Satan moved to do away with humanity. This is a motif that repeats itself in the Snow White story, to my current thinking. It is explored. Where Satan came to deceive people to sin, as a serpent, the queen sends her huntsman to do the deed. Where Satan deceives the people with promises of knowledge in immortality, one imagines he snickers under his breath that they will indeed die for this deed, the queen’s huntsman is to end Snow White’s life flat out, but ends up deceiving the queen. The problem of humanity is done away with, for in eating the fruit they will die – Satan believes he has won, having received the heart of a deer in a box from the huntsman.
But humanity is not done for, but enters a period of transition, and is made ready for the appearance of the prince. The dwarfs are the seven classic virtues: faith, hope, love, wisdom, justice, self-control, and courage. Snow White is entrusted to their care for a time, as to a tutor, until she comes of age (Galatians 3:24). But when she comes of age we find the story revisiting Satan’s spite against humanity – bringing the poisoned apple, which curses its eater with the sleeping death. Satan will destroy humanity, and somehow this kind of treachery and villainy will make the evil queen fairest in the land.
And so with promises that the apple is very tasty, that it is very good (You will not surely die!), the queen entices humanity to eat to its own cursing and to enter the sleeping death. This is the state of things apart from Christ, this is the problem that the world is in and which Jesus comes to be the solution to. Jesus, the prince comes to the bedside of poor sleeping Snow White, humanity personified, and as his lips touch hers he tastes her death and revives her from it.
There is more that can be said, but this is written just to get the brain juices pumping in you – can you see yourself in that story, because it is your story?