A Tale Of Two Reginas
By Teresa Martin (@Teresa__Martin)
The story of Snow White begins with a classic description of the heroine: “skin as white as snow and red as blood, [with] hair as black as ebony (Grimm, 51).” While young Snow’s adventures are the focus of the fairy tale, there is a fascinating character who wishes the child nothing but death: her very own step-mother who is, incidentally, queen of her land. There are two versions of this murderous regent that are presented here as subjects for analysis. One is from the Grimm narrative, and the other from the modern television show Once Upon a Time. While events happen differently in the two renditions, the symbolism remains the same. Both queens commit deadly trespasses which poison their souls and lead them to spiritual death.
In the Grimm version of Snow White, the Queen is first introduced after she marries Snow’s widowed father. She is described as being beautiful, but also proud and frivolous. It is not by coincidence that pride is the first vice listed. Hubris, disproportionate pride, is present in literature from the classics of Homer to the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. The latter stated “. . . . that pride denotes something opposed to right reason (Question 161, Article 1).” Hubris can further be defined as “. . . .a belief that he or she is somehow above the fates, or in control of destiny (Best).“ By people’s own will, usually manifested in the rejection of self-knowledge through truth, the remedy is eluded. As a result, the individuals continue miring themselves in other ill-gotten acts, which often escalate to murder. The cure is the opposite of pride: humility. If this virtue were embraced by the Queen, she would need to give up her desire to be more beautiful than Snow White. However, there is no indication that she sees this path as an option. When one considers that her other trait is frivolity, the Queen can only be the dangerous person that the story describes.
Equally alarming is Regina, Latin for Queen. She is first seen in Once Upon a Time when she barges into a wedding, head held high, and announces that she will take away everybody’s happiness. Her earnestness makes the scene all the more disturbing, for she is obviously not in control of her reason. While it is understandable to be upset because others receive the happiness for which one wishes, to actively seek the destruction of an entire world, and announce her intention with confidence, clearly reveals her psyche. This woman is insane.
Explore the Arthurian legend surrounding Lancelot, take a trip into the woods to discover the mythology behind Red Riding Hood or learn more about a modern day hero called Snow White. Origins provides unique insights and perspectives from talented writers into the characters we know and love, going far beyond the boundaries of Storybrooke.