Fairy Tales 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Forgotten Heros of the Fairy Tales

Oh, to be a prince! Or a knight! Or a boy without fear! But what if luck casts you as a bit player in the larger drama? Where are your accolades? Your adoring public?

Franz Hessel's The Seventh Dwarf tells the story of Snow White but from a rather different perspective. A smaller one if you will -- horrible pun intended. The narrator is the seventh dwarf (one who remains unnamed -- this isn't Disney, after all) and he takes credit for saving Snow White's life time after time.

Why, it was he who pulled the poisoned comb from her hair. It was he who loosened her corset. And when she ate the bewitched apple, it was he who startled the coffin bearers into dropping the glass coffin and dislodging the apple from Snow White's throat.

It is a fairy tale because it still deals with the main themes of Snow White. We have magic and witches and spells. Did I mention we have dwarfs? But it also is a fairy tale because of the story-telling narrator. The reader is being directly addressed. You are sitting by the fireside listening to this dwarf tell his tale.

He ends the story by saying, "She probably think about the seven dwarfs every now and then, especially when the children sing about the seven dwarfs, who live beyond the mountains. But I'm sure that she las long since forgotten me, the last one, the seventh." Notice that the dwarfs described as being "beyond the mountains." They are not in the normal realm of reality. The "She" here is Snow White but it could also refer to history -- the dwarf's story long forgotten for some falsehoods about a prince riding to the rescue. What a shame!

-Matt P.


  1. This was a fun one. There were a lot of breaks from the fairy tale norm, too, though - it was almost like the story was automatically a fairy tale because it was using fairy tale characters, but it isn't very fairy tale-like in it's content.

    It's in first person and sort of explanatory. Normally fairy tales are very ambiguous, not closely examining the magical world (because it's so uncomprehensible and intended to be left for the imagination). They normally omit all the details and just stick to the basic plot.

    Normally the heroes are extremely humble and earn their heroicism, which is acknowledged by all the land. Here, the hero has to keep puffing himself up to be heard. And he doesn't win the girl and the kingdom in the end. He wins nothing.

  2. This is a fun one to think about. I defiantly got the "by the fire story-time" when I read it. I really like how you describe the tale as well. To me your voice resembles that of the seventh dwarf. It is satirical. this story defiantly takes on a canon of a fairy tale but the author makes it his own, which I think in the end makes it even more interesting.