Original Fairy Art
The Queen’s Mirror
Watercolor on Hot Press Arches
What would have happened if Snow White had come across her stepmother’s talkative mirror? Perhaps the evil Queen has forgotten a necklace on her dressing table, and orders her stepdaughter to fetch it. Would the Mirror speak to Snow White?
Humans had already walked on the moon when I was a child, yet young girls were still subject to medieval expectations. My own parents were very vocal that I was not "the pretty one" of their children, and I knew other girls who were taught the same message, perhaps more subtly. Because I wasn't "the pretty one," I needed to rely on my own hard work, the assumption being that I would never marry.
Is it any wonder that the story of Cinderella struck a chord, but that Snow White seemed passive and dull? Both had cruel stepmothers, and both did a lot of hard work. In the versions I read, housework was a demeaning punishment: Cinderella had to scrub the hearth, while Snow White (a princess) was forced to become a scullery maid. Even after escaping into the woods, Snow White had to stoop (for how high must the ceilings be in a house for such short beings?) to clean house for seven dwarves, all sweaty and grungy from working in the mines. Was that the worth of a Prince Charming, escaping hard work? I suppose the story of "Once upon a time" would be much less engaging if it began instead "Always, there is hard work..."
Snow White's story had the deer heart and the poisoned apple, but the only real draw for me was the queen's Magic Mirror.
The Queen was beautiful, but her insecurity demanded that she be the most beautiful of all. Although no judgement of the Mirror’s character was made in the books I read, I knew that Mirror was even more evil than the Queen. After the Huntsman had sent Snow White running, couldn’t have the Mirror avoided telling the Queen that her stepdaughter was still alive? Why did the Mirror stir the coals of jealousy?
I couldn't believe that the Mirror was impartial and speaking the only truth. Despite my own insecurities, I knew that Beauty has some base in opinion. Did the Mirror pronounce the queen less beautiful just because she was growing older, and more susceptible to criticism? Couldn’t the Queen suspect that the Mirror was bewitching her, egging on her vanity, so that the Mirror could witness Evil played out?
The Queen's Mirror only speaks of physical beauty, not the character of a person. Snow White is not just beautiful on the outside. She is innocent and kind on the inside.
Soon Snow White will be forced into the woods where she will play with the forest animals and will, without complaint, mop up after dwarves. But right now, the Queen sends Snow White to fetch the necklace from her dressing table. The Mirror calls out to Snow White. Does she listen to the Mirror? Does she even hear it speak?
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