The reason why I am so taken with, so passionate about, this work of interpretation is that every time I do it, I set off on a journey of discovery. Behind a symbolic tale like Snow White there are many, many nuances and associations that I am eager to explore, for if I decide to focus on one aspect or another, then it's like turning into another side road I've never taken. The multimedia blogs are even more fun, since the other mediums of art and film and music lead me into new areas of experience, both of mine and of other humans in other times and places, and beyond. I consider this work a conversation that everything and everyone is having. If there is anything I know that others do not it is just that I have more knowledge of language for the conversation than some, though if you do read the essay on metaphor I offer on this site, you'll discover you may be a lot more conversant in symbolic language than you realize.
Here's a great find- a Betty Boop rendition of Snow White from 1933 that features Cab Calloway singing St. James Infirmary Blues, a song of death:
Psychological interpretation of this story would allow that we early on split Mom into two different characters, since she seems to act differently in different situations. The good one is "My own Mama", in Betty's words; it's also the virtually unknown one looking out the window in the beginning of the tale. This childhood experience of restriction is one symbolic interpretation for the first stepmother/crone/peddler woman gift of the strangling bodice lacings.
This animated film is awesome in its use of symbolism, with mirrors, ghosts, snake and owl, the Mystery Cave, death and ice and snow, a clown, the ball that carries Betty along the precipice, countless magical transformations, and more. I think I will revisit it at the end of this interpretation, but I do want to point out in line with the image by Shera that Betty Boop's whole thang is that she is both innocent and sexy, two incongruous and therefore polarized concepts. That means that you never know what she's going to do, though it will undoubtedly be archetypally feminine!She is both Eve and Mary, and it's OK if she sings a song from the perspective of a small child while simultaneously attracting the admiration of all the male figures in the story, wiggling her butt in a skimpy dress. I think this one might have been before Betty was toned down by the Hays Code.
I'm also going to point out that another very compelling archetypal theme we find in this story is that of the feminine trinity, the maiden, mother, and crone. It is through this trinity that much significance in line with human development is expressed. The triptych above is a fanciful depiction of the three; though perhaps a bit symbolically inaccurate, it's thoroughly enchanting nonetheless. The artist, Marcella Sidartawan, calls herself Red Clown and shows her work on Flickr, here. Yay Marcella! Some pretty edgy stuff.
I also want to point out that the story begins and ends with the same event; a mother's death. This bookending of the story tells us, for one thing, that this story is about the death of some old vision of life and self as split, in this case into the good and bad mother. We can imagine the two mothers, therefore, as one, being experienced in different layers, in different inner mirrors, like the clever way Max Fleischer has the mother in Betty Boop's story change herself (and others) by running them through her mirror. From the death of this dichotomy naturally arises the ability to appreciate or redeem that which we had thought we were not, as human beings. Then we are free to be either one of the duality without fear, free to extend compassion to those we had previously castigated, envied, those whose hearts and livers we wanted to eat as we railed against prostitutes and warmongers and hippies and fundamentalist Christians. We learn that we ourselves are not "all that" in the egoic sense, but in the unity consciousness sense.