Myth or Magic: A Simple Spell

A friend of mine recently posed an interesting question.

“The evil queen uses magic to change her appearance and poison Snow White. Why doesn’t she just use that magic to make Snow White uglier instead of going through the complicated process of trying to kill her?”


She makes a very good point. So I did what I always do in cases like this. I went to the original text. And there are three things I found that I think answer this question.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

1. A Burning Hatred

In the original story, Snow White’s stepmother asks the mirror every day who the fairest in the land is. When Snow White is seven years old, the mirror declares her the fairest. This sets a burning hatred in the queen’s heart for her stepdaughter. By the time she decides to get rid of Snow White, that hatred has grown for years. So it’s not hard to imagine the queen wanted to get rid of her permanently, not just get rid of her beauty.

2. Secondary Movtives

Depending on the translation and version, the queen asks the huntsman to return with either Snow White’s heart, her lungs, her liver, or some combination of them. Some say it’s for proof of her death, others have the queen wanting to eat said parts, either to gain immortality, Snow White’s beauty, or eternal youth.

3. Lack of Magic

In the version of the story I linked above, there’s something interesting I noticed in this read-through. While the queen uses her knowledge of witchcraft to create various poisons for Snow White, this text says that the queen “colored her face” to disguise herself. So it might be that she doesn’t actually have magic that changes a person’s appearance.

So, as best as I can tell, the evil queen didn’t use magic as her solution because she was petty, had other reasons to kill Snow White, and she probably just couldn’t.

What questions do you have about fairy tales? Leave them in the comments below for future installments of Myth or Magic.

Until next time, word nerds!

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