A Common Fairy Tale Motif, By Hansel And Gretel, Snow White, And The Almond Tree

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A common fairy tale motif is that of the evil stepmother, in such tales as Aschenputtel, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and The Almond Tree. Such a character whose main purpose is to oppose the hero/ heroine at all costs, the polar opposite of our main character. This polarization is essential for us to understand the goodness of the hero, to want them to succeed, and to see how good triumphs over evil. The most thought of evil-stepmother is that of the Queen in Snow White. The Queen is introduced to readers as “proud and haughty” and only emphasizes these traits the more the story goes on. She has pride in her beauty, which turns to envy when Snow becomes more beautiful than she. Snow has what the Queen wants and she will do everything in her power to take it back. Her envy is what drives her to murder, which she tries four times, and ends up being the cause of her death. This envious heart of hers clearly shows the polarization between the Queen and Snow. Snow White is even described to us having an “innocent heart” to emphasize the distance between these two characters. Similarly, in Hansel and Gretel, the stepmother believes the children are in her way, as they are the ones eating the food. She wants to split the food between only her and her husband, and believes the children eat too much and will be the reason they starve. This clearly shows she is envious of the children, just as the Queen was. And, just like the Queen, is punished for her crimes by death. The

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