Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Legend Post #3 -- Snow White and Rose Red

We all think we know the story of Snow White, but who's this Rose Red character? That's what I thought when I was browsing through Pinterest the other day in search of pictures to pin to my Lore board, and I came across the picture you see on the right here.

Curious much? I managed to save the research until I could actually write a blog post about it. But only just.

As it turns out, the story of Snow White and Rose Red is is by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Odd pair, the Grimm Brothers. This story of theirs is no less odd than some of their other ones. A little difficult to decipher, but it has some interesting elements to it.

First of all, there are the characters. An old widow is introduced first. She has two rose trees planted on either side of the front door to her cottage, one white and one red. It is after these rose trees that she named her two daughters. Enter our main characters!

She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow White and the other was called Rose Red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful, as ever two children in the world were, only Snow White was more quiet and gentle than Rose Red. Rose Red liked better to run about the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow White sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

The personalities of these two are very interesting opposites. Opposites are always fun in characters. If you use your imagination, you can see the front of the cottage on a sunny day, the roses in full bloom. The widow is tending to the flowers, while Rose Red is chasing a brilliantly colored butterfly all over the lawn, and Snow White is quite happily sitting in the grass intent upon the pages of her book. See? There goes the butterfly, right by Snow White, and... Over both sisters go! Just because the fairy tale says they were good and happy doesn't mean they never had their little disagreements.

There is a long description of how good these sisters are; how they were protected by their guardian angel, how animals loved them and feared them not, and how theirmother never worried about them because they always stayed out of trouble. Particular notice is made of their loyalty to each other, which reminded me of my little sisters because they are exactly the same way towards each other.

...and when Snow-white said, "We will not leave each other." Rose-red answered, "Never so long as we live."

So cute. ^.^ Okay, so now we're introduced to another key character. One winter night, out of nowhere, a bear shows up at their door. But not just any bear..... This one talks.

But the bear began to speak and said, "Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm! I am half-frozen and only want to warm myself a little beside you."
"Poor bear," said the mother. "Lie down by the fire, only take care that you do not burn your coat." Then she cried, "Snow-white, Rose-red, come out,the bear will do you no harm,he means well."

Now the story's started to get a little od, as I'm sure you've noticed. But hey, fairy tales are weird. This bear stays with the threesome for the whole winter, coming every evening and staying overnight, and the two girls grow very fond of him. Unfortunately, that summer, he must leave. He has a treasure, he says, that he is trying to guard from an evil dwarf who wants to steal it from him.

Now for the very last character, the dwarf. If there is a villain in this story, it is this ill tempered, ungrateful, greedy dwarf. He's also incredibly clumsy, which is kind of amusing in a villain. Twice he gets his beard caught, and once he's almost carried off by an eagle. Each time, Snow White and Rose Red happen along and free him, and each time the dwarf hurls insults at them, storming off thanklessly with a sack of gold, pearls, or precious stones on his shoulder.

The girls came just in time; they held him fast and tried to free his beard fromthe line, but all in vain, beard and line were entangled fast together. Nothing was left but to bringout the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part of it was lost.
When the dwarf saw that he screamed out, "Is that civil,you toad-stool, to disfigure one's face? Was it not enough to clip off the end ofmy beard? Now you have to cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes!" Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes, and without saying a word more he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.

Of course, the two sisters do not get angry, but assist the dwarf in spite of his irksome temperament. So far it appears Snow Whiteand Rose Red are good examples of compassion. They learned this from their mother, obviously, who first showed compassion to the freezing cold bear. Now her daughters are showing they learned this virtue well by aiding the annoying dwarf in spite of his insulting manners. As with all fairy tales, the sisters' virtue is rewared. As the girls are returning from running errandsfortheirmother at the market -- having by now saved the dwarf three times -- they come across the dwarf rifling through the sack of precious jewels....

"Why do you stand gaping there?" cried the dwarf, and his ashen-grey face became copper-red with rage. He was going on with his bad words when a loud growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest.The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not get to his cave,for the bear was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried, "Dear Mr. Bear, spare me, I will give you all my treasures; look, the beautiful jewels lying there! Grant memy life; what do you want with such a slender little fellow as I? You would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls, they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails; for mercy's sake eat them!" The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.

Quite a showdown, eh? Not exactly a sword duel, but hey, it worked. Now here's the reward.

The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, "Snow-white and Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait. I will come with you." Then they knew his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man, clothed all in gold. "I am a King's son," he said. "And I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf,who had stolen my treasure; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment."
Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasurewhich the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years.She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window,and ever year they bore the most beautiful roses,white and red.
[All exerpts taken from]

Happily ever after! I love how the two girls took care of their mother after they married. It's so sweet.

Now, if you think about it, that prince wouldn't have been so keen to marry Snow White, or let his brother marry Rose Red, if the girls had been as ill tempered as that dwarf. But instead they learned compassion from their mother, applied it in real life, and were rewarded for it even though they did not do it because they were expecting a reward. They were obedient to children, even though the story seems to indicate that Snow White and Rose Red were older, at least old enough to be married.

 As I mentioned before, it's rather an odd story, but cute in its own way. I think it would be a fascinating tale to try and rework in one's own words, for sure. The potential of the characters is definitely there.

Well, this turned out to be much longer than I expected. Hopefully you found the story of Snow White and Rose Red interesting to explore.

Dia duit,

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