At first glance, Snow White is basically a variant of Cinderella. A young, pretty Protagonist is treated badly by her step-mother (although in older versions it’s actually her biological mother) who is jealous of her. The [step-]mother tries to kill Cinder- sorry – Snow White instead of merely mistreating her. Aided by her Friends (for whom Snow White is actually a domestic drudge working below her station, just like Cinders) she thwarts the step-mother and overcomes Obstacles to get the Prince anyway. Admittedly one of those obstacles is her apparent death, but the path to true love never did run smooth. The quest in this case isn’t finding the girl the shoe fits, it’s just finding the girl, but there’s still the usual rejoicing afterwards.
The two stories are very closely linked, but there are some key variants that distinguish them, that retellings can do a lot with.
Firstly, it’s a Runaway Protagonist story.
Cinders doesn’t run away from her abusive domestic situation before meeting her Prince, and her Fairy Godmother only shows up to facilitate her going to the ball, not to get her out of the household situation. Snow White does run away, and is only saved from sleeping rough in the forest by a bunch of random miners who also happen to be dwarfs, or, if they are Tolkein-esque, dwarves. The Grimm story names domestic work as the price of their shelter and food, so much like Cinders, there’s a Noble Protagonist Humbled into doing work beneath their station.
Secondly, it’s a lot nastier than domestic drudgery – it’s stalking and multiple counts of attempted murder. You get the feeling that if Cinders ran away, her stepmother wouldn’t care that much. With Snow White, the Queen does care, and it is very, very, very personal.
Thirdly, the trials and obstacles to True Love are different and include [apparent] death. Cinders has to be at the right place at the right time to win her True Love, and then his quest is to find her again to prove his commitment. Snow White has to overcome three attempts on her life. In the first, Queenie arrives as a peddler woman selling lace. She laces up Snow so tightly the poor thing can’t breathe. Cue the Seven Dwarfs who return home in time to cut her free. The second time, Queenie rocks her peddler woman disguise and sells Snow White a poisoned comb – you’d think she’d be a bit more cautious about cold-callers at this point, but she buys it, combs her hair, and down she goes. The dwarfs come home, pull the comb out, and she’s fine. The third time is the most famous attempt: the poisoned apple. This time she disguises herself as a peasant woman – even someone as nice-but-dim as Snow White wouldn’t be fooled by a peddler woman disguise three times in a row.
This is where it gets weird(er).
The prince shows up after hearing about this mysterious but beautiful dead girl in a glass coffin in the woods (or sometimes just shows up and hears about it later, and the coffin is on a mountain). He wants to see it for himself (Dark Tourism?) and off he goes to see this marvel – especially as the rumour says she isn’t rotting like a dead body ought to be.
Here’s one version of what happened:
Now it came to pass that a prince entered these woods and happened onto the dwarfs’ house, where he sought shelter for the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain with beautiful Snow-White in it, and he read what was written on it with golden letters.
Then he said to the dwarfs, “Let me have the coffin. I will give you anything you want for it.”
But the dwarfs answered, “We will not sell it for all the gold in the world.”
Then he said, “Then give it to me, for I cannot live without being able to see Snow-White. I will honor her and respect her as my most cherished one.”
As he thus spoke, the good dwarfs felt pity for him and gave him the coffin. The prince had his servants carry it away on their shoulders. But then it happened that one of them stumbled on some brush, and this dislodged from Snow-White’s throat the piece of poisoned apple that she had bitten off. Not long afterward she opened her eyes, lifted the lid from her coffin, sat up, and was alive again.
“Good heavens, where am I?” she cried out.
The prince said joyfully, “You are with me.” He told her what had happened, and then said, “I love you more than anything else in the world. Come with me to my father’s castle. You shall become my wife.” Snow-White loved him, and she went with him. Their wedding was planned with great splendor and majesty.
(Read the full version of Grimm 053: Little Snow-White here)
So the Prince, in this variant, wants to buy the coffin – the dwarfs actually give the coffin to him, not knowing what this weird stranger wants to do with the body once it’s in his possession but he’s pretty much said ‘I’ll treat her like my wife’ or ‘I’ll treat this dead body like a work of art’ – let’s not dwell on that – and then the apple is dislodged and she wakes up, hooray, rejoicing, marriage can take place instead of, you know, the prince having this corpse hanging around in his palace that a bunch of dwarfs pimped out to him. Apparently whether she’s alive or dead doesn’t matter, but alive is preferable.
Now, if that’s not a vampire or zombie romance story in the making I don’t know what is.
With that in mind:
SNOW WHITE, but she carries the zombie/vampire curse, and her mother is not jealous of the fact Snow is prettier than her, she’s trying to rid the world of a Great Evil.
SNOW WHITE, but she’s in a witness protection programme for testifying against the matriarch of her crime family, and she starts a relationship with the officer in charge of her case.
(This one could work in a stalking situation as well)
SNOW WHITE, but set in the cut-throat world of child beauty pageants, where her mother/step-mother is obsessed with living vicariously through her daughter and winning the Crown – but Snow’s success is a thorn in her heart, and things take a nasty turn…
SNOW WHITE, where an heiress becomes a rough-sleeper in the Big City, fleeing her abusive home situation and the hitmen hired to kill her for her inheritance.
SNOW WHITE, but as a survivalist/wilderness story of a runaway living off-grid in a National Park/beyond the Safe Zone, who wouldn’t be safe if they returned to civilisation.
SNOW WHITE, but she was murdered and is now haunting a medium and his seven spirit guides, trying to get her mother convicted of her death.
SNOW WHITE, but she’s in a coma and trying to communicate with the Consultant (who’s in love with her) and seven nurses in outer body experiences so that she can return to her body.
SNOW WHITE, but the ‘Prince’ is a mad scientist trying to make himself a Bride: he just needs the right body and a family who won’t ask questions…
SNOW WHITE, but set in England before the Anatomy Act, where a gang of seven Resurrection men uncover a barely-breathing woman buried alive – and she’s not who the headstone says she is…
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