Queen (Snow White)

Queen (Snow White)
The Queen poisons Snow White, Franz Jüttner, 1905

The Evil Queen is a fictional character and the main antagonist in the German fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, collected by the Brothers Grimm and adapted by Disney into an animated film.

The Queen is beautiful, but narcissistic and cruel and a very powerful sorceress. She marries a widowed king who has a daughter called Snow White from his first wife. The Queen envies Snow White's beauty, and so tries to have her killed, setting the story in motion.


Brothers Grimm version

The German fairytale was collected by the Brothers Grimm in their 1812 Kinder- und Hausmärchen ("Children's and Household Tales"). In the first edition, though not the subsequent ones, the Queen is Snow White's biological mother, not stepmother.[1]

In the Grimm version, the Queen orders her huntsman to take Snow White (or Snowdrop, as she is called in the first edition[1]) into the forest, and bring back her lungs and liver as proof that he has killed her. The huntsman takes pity on Snow White, and instead brings the Queen the lungs and liver of a boar, which she eats, believing them to be Snow White's.

The Queen eventually discovers that Snow White has survived by questioning her magic mirror. She dresses in a disguise in her later attempts to kill Snow White. First, she visits the dwarfs' house as an old peddler woman, and sells Snow White laces for a corset; but laces them too tightly, to asphyxiate her. When that fails, she returns as a different old woman and tricks Snow White into using a poisoned comb. Finally when the comb fails to kill her, she visits again as a farmer's wife and gives Snow White a poisoned apple.

After Snow White and the Prince reveal her true nature, she is invited to their wedding, where she is forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and "dance until she dropped down dead."[2]

Disney version

The Evil Queen
Walt Disney version of the Queen
First appearance Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Created by Walt Disney Pictures
Voiced by Lucille La Verne (Original film)
Louise Chamis (House of Mouse, current)
Susan Blakeslee (Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep)
Aliases Evil Queen, Wicked Queen, Queen Grimhilde

The film version of the Queen was often referred to as Queen Grimhilde in Disney publications of the 1930s, and was voiced by Lucille La Verne. Her appearance was inspired by the character of Queen Hash-a-Motep from the 1935 film She, played by Helen Gahagan.[3] The Queen ranks #10 in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, the highest-ranked animated villain.[4]

A vain and proud beauty, the Queen gained her royal position by marrying a widowed king who departed soon after marrying her, leaving her as current ruler of the kingdom. She was jealous of Snow White's beauty, so she made Snow White a scullery maid. The Queen had a magical mirror with which she could look upon whatever she wished. The Magic Mirror shows a haunted, smoky face which replies to the Queen's requests. She regularly asks the mirror who is the fairest in the land ("Magic, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"), and the mirror always replies that she is.

One day, the mirror tells her that there is a new fairest woman in the land, her stepdaughter, Snow White. After observing the handsome prince, singing a love song to Snow White, the Queen, in a jealous rage, orders her faithful huntsman Humbert to take the Princess deep into the forest and kill her. He is ordered to bring back her heart in a box to prove that he had done so. Humbert could not bear to kill the young princess, so he tells Snow White of the Queen's plot and tells her to run away and never to return. In order to escape the penalty, he returns with a pig's heart and gives it to the Queen. When she questions her mirror, it again replies that Snow White is the fairest in the land, and that she is living at the cottage of the seven dwarfs.

Furious that Humbert tricked her, the Queen goes down into the dungeon laboratory and mixes a potion that turns her into a hag. Her beauty is shrouded in ugliness and age. This appearance of the Queen is commonly referred to as The Witch or The Old Hag. She then conjures a poison apple which will cause death-like sleep and proceeds to leave the castle. She is sure that no one would know or perform the counter-curse to her spell, and believes the dwarfs would bury Snow White alive, thinking her dead. The Queen comes to the cottage, followed by two vicious buzzards, and finds Snow White baking a pie for Grumpy the dwarf. Somehow, Snow White's animal friends realize that the old hag is the Queen. After an unsuccessful attempt to warn Snow White by attacking the Queen, they go to warn the dwarfs of the Queen's arrival. The Queen tricks Snow White into letting her inside the cottage and eating the poisoned apple, telling her that it is a magic wishing apple. Snow White takes a bite and falls to the floor, apparently dead.

The Queen rejoices in her victory, but is soon discovered by the seven dwarfs, who chase her deep into the forest as a great storm begins. She climbs up into the mountains, where she stands upon a precipice that overlooks a seemingly bottomless canyon, and attempts to push down a large boulder to crush the dwarfs. Just then, a lightning bolt strikes between her and the boulder, destroying the precipice and sending the Queen (along with the boulder) down the cliff, screaming while she falls to the jagged rocks below. As the dwarfs look wide-eyed over the cliff's edge, they cannot see her. The buzzards fly past, to eat the evil Queen's corpse. Her castle is taken over by the prince and Snow White, after his kiss revives her.

Other appearances

The Queen has made other appearances in various Disney media. She went on to make frequent appearances in Disney comics, where, under the alias the Witch, she regularly antagonized Disney characters like Chip 'n Dale and Tinkerbell. There was even an Italian story explaining how she had survived her apparent death in the movie, and why she could not change back to her normal self.

In the night-time fireworks and visual hydrotechnic show Fantasmic!, the Queen is the main villain and the leader of the Disney Villains that appear near the climax of the show. In the "The Disney Villains Mix and Mingle" stage show in Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Queen is one of the villains led by Maleficent that appear during the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage.

She was featured in television specials like Our Unsung Villains and Disney's Greatest Villains, and segments of the Queen's appearance are shown in Disney's Halloween Treat and in A Disney Halloween. The Queen also makes a cameo in Mickey's House of Villains, and is seen sitting with Lady Tremaine in her queen form, and with Madam Mim and Witch Hazel in her witch form. She also makes a cameo in her witch version in Toontown in Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The Queen is also one of the four Disney Villains that appear in the Disney's Villains' Revenge video game. Jiminy Cricket and the player venture into the worlds of the stories to correct the happy endings, which have been altered by the villains themselves. In the altered story, the Queen has built a giant house resembling her infamous poisoned apple and has put Snow White to sleep and intends to do the same to the seven dwarves.

In the video game Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, she plays out the same role as in the movie, only this time recruiting Terra to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in return for allowing him to use the Magic Mirror to locate Master Xehanort. Terra, like the huntsman, ultimately does not go through with this, and the Queen, learning of his betrayal, orders him executed by the mirror, but Terra manages to fight the mirror off. The Queen begrudgingly asks the mirror of Master Xehanort's whereabouts, and the mirror directs Terra to the Keyblade Graveyard. Later, she disguises herself as an old hag to give Snow White a poisoned apple and send her into a deep sleep. On the way, she drops the apple, and Ventus mistakenly returns the fruit to her. She thanks Ven kindly, but notes that she previously met a man with a weapon very similar to Ven's who threatened her into helping him find someone called Xehanort. She succeeds in poisoning Snow White, but is never seen or heard from again. As the dwarfs are seen grieving at Snow White's side later on in the game, and since she does not appear elsewhere in the series, it is implied that the Queen suffered the same fate as in the film.

The novel Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen takes a comical look at how she became the villain in the film, much in the style of Wicked, with the Magic Mirror, here possessed by the spirit of her abusive father, having been a corrupting influence.[5] The book was published by Disney Press.[6]

In a related Disney special hosted by Dick Van Dyke, the queen was played by Jane Curtin, while the mirror was played by Sherman Hemsley. She also appears in one of the Disney Princess books called My Side of the Story with her stepdaughter Snow White and in the Queen's side, she appears to have a nice-looking face.

The Queen, played by Lana Parrilla is the chief antagonist in the American television drama Once Upon a Time (TV series). In that series she uses a powerful curse to transport various fairy tale characters, including her arch enemy Snow White, to a small town in Maine.

It has been rumored that the Queen will make a guest appearance in the upcoming video game Soulcalibur V under the name Queen Grimhilde.

Other versions

A Tale of Terror version

In the film Snow White: A Tale of Terror, the character is not a Queen, but rather a noblewoman named Lady Claudia Hoffman played by Sigourney Weaver, and is partly portrayed as a tragic character.

She marries widower nobleman Frederick Hoffman. She tries to befriend his daughter, Lily, giving Lily a puppy, but Lily rejects her. On their wedding night people of the manor bless Lord and Lady Hoffman's marriage bed so that their consummation might be fruitful. Lily, instead of offering her blessing, throws the holy water at Claudia. Lily runs away and finds her way into the Lady's quarters. When her nanny comes to look for her, Lily hides under the bed. There is a mirror in the room, treasured by the Lady. It opens for the nanny and Lily watches the nanny having a heart attack after looking into the mirror.

From that, her comments about casting the runes early on, her mentioning that "they" hate her and her mother's kind, and that Snow White is a German fairy tale, it is impied that she might be a holdout of Germanic paganism hiding in a Christian world.

By the time Lily is a teenager, she and her stepmother despise each other. By the ninth year of her marriage to Lord Hoffman, she is pregnant with a son. The night of the celebratory dance, she offers Lily the dress she had worn as a maiden but the daughter refuses. When she arrives at the dance, she wears her birth mother's dress and dances with her father. With Frederick Hoffman, and all the others, turn away from his wife for his daughter — and his first wife's memory — the enraged Lady Claudia suffers such a severe rush of stress that she collapses and goes into childbirth. The baby, however, is stillborn.

Driven mad by grief, she turns to her magic mirror for reassurance, but sees her reflection distorted and deformed. The mirror blames Lily for the baby's death and with that Claudia plots her stepdaughter's assassination. Lily goes to play in the forest, and Claudia sends her mute, inbred brother to kill her. When she escapes, the brother kills a pig and gives his sister the organs of proof of the deed. Lady Claudia serves part of the organs as a stew which she eats with cannibalistic relish. When her mirror tells her that her stepdaugher is alive, she uses her black magic to murder her brother by means of forced suicide.

On learning Lily's whereabouts by means of her ravens, Lady Claudia tries to kill her and the seven miners with whom she hides by means of her witchcraft. She first buries a bird in the falling sand of an hourglass to cause a cave-in at the mine. She fails to kill Lily but succeeds at killing a miner. Later she pushes over and breaks her husband's statues of the Saints to make the trees in the miner's forest home fall over and hopefully crush her stepdaughter. She fails and instead kills another miner. She then takes the mirror's advice; that advice being to kill her stepdaughter with the Serpent's fruit: the apple. Using magic to disguise herself as an old woman, Lady Claudia poisons Lily, placing her in a coma.

With Lily thought dead, Lady Claudia turns her attention inward, trying to seduce Lily's fiancee, Peter Gutenberg, and raping her husband as a prelude to human sacrifice in an attempt to revive her dead baby. The actual ritual itself is performed inside the manor chapel, Lady Claudia bringing her sacrificial victim before the image of the crucified Jesus Christ in order to profane Christian soil. She also bewitches every last servant of the manor house, turning them into her minions. When her stepdaughter at last is healed, she, Gutenberg, and Will, the chief miner, confront Lady Claudia. Peter is killed and Lily finds her father crucified upside-down opposite the figure of Jesus on a life-sized crucifix now hanging upside down by a chain from the manor chapel's ceiling.

After seeing this, Lily confronts her stepmother. A fight ensues during which a fire breaks out. Lily ultimately kills her stepmother by stabbing her image in the mirror, causing Claudia to rapidly age. As Claudia screams in horror, the mirror explodes and the shards of glass strike her, who screams in horror and blunders into the flames, catching fire. She flails around in agony until she is finally crushed by falling debris.

GoodTimes adaptation

In the GoodTimes Entertainment adaption of Snow White, the story follows mostly the same as the original story, only the Queen uses magic to disguise herself, turning into an old peddlar woman and trying to strangle Snow White with laces, then as an old peddlar man who gives her poison comb, then as a young girl selling apples. The Queen believes she has finally killed Snow White, until the day she leaves for a wedding being held in the city. Before she leaves, the Queen asks her mirror who the loveliest woman in the kingdom was, and she is horrified to learn that it is Snow White, still alive, whose marriage is the very one she was about to attend. In a fit of rage, the Queen begins to smash all the mirrors in her throne room, before throwing a hand mirror at her magic mirror, when the magic mirror sucks the hand mirror in. The voice in the mirror begins to suck the horrified Queen in, taunting her for her attempts to murder her stepdaughter and telling her she will never see her own face again. The Queen is last seen banging on the other side of the glass before disappearing.

The Charmings

Portrayed by acclaimed British actress Judy Parfitt, Queen Lillian "Lily" White returns after several years, cursing Snow White and her family. This curse banishes them (including the Queen herself and her Magic Mirror played by Paul Winfield) into the modern world, where they live as the Charmings. The name coming from the fact that the prince who rescued Snow White is often called 'Prince Charming.' The Queen is forced to live with her family, while trying to find a way to return herself back to their own world.

Queen of Fables

The Queen of Fables is a witch from DC comic books. She was a scheming villainess who in her youth wrought Hell on Earth until she was trapped in a book by her own stepdaughter, Snow White. Centuries later, she was freed accidentally by Snow White's descendants and has since faced many Justice League superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman who she thought was Snow White due to her great beauty.

Cannon Movie Tales

Snow White is one of the nine Cannon Movie Tales fairytale musicals produced in the 1980s. The film was released in 1987. Diana Rigg starred as the Wicked Queen. The plot follows the story of the original fairytale including the three attempts by the Queen to kill Snow White (a tight bodice, a poison comb, and finally a poison apple).[7]

Christine White

In the 2000 miniseries The 10th Kingdom the main villain is Christine White, portrayed by Dianne Wiest. After the events in the story of Snow White, the Evil Queen, who is left to die, flees to Earth where she meets Christine Lewis, a jealous, adulterous madwoman who is addicted to prescription drugs. After almost killing her daughter in a psychopathic rage, Christine accompanies the Queen to the realm of the Nine Kingdoms to be groomed by the undead Evil Queen (now known as the Swamp Witch) to be her successor and her instrument of revenge. Christine insinuates herself into the House of White, first as the nanny of Snow White's grandson, Prince Wendell White, and later as Wendell's stepmother, after having poisoned his mother. Prior to the events of the miniseries, Christine is finally imprisoned for the subsequent poisoning death of Wendell's father. As The 10th Kingdom begins, she escapes to cause further destruction, and at the climax of the series she is killed by the main protagonist, her daughter, Virginia.[8]

Snow White (TV film)

In the 2001 TV film Snow White: The Fairest of Them All, the Queen is a self-loathing and spectrophobic hag named Elspeth, one of a race of strange humanoid creatures. She is transformed into a beautiful queen by her brother, the Green-Eyed Granter of Wishes. In this adaptation she is driven more by insecurities than vanity. As in all versions of the story she grows to envy her stepdaughter, Snow White but rather than disguising herself as an old crone she disguises herself as a young woman resembling Snow White's mother and succeeds in poisoning the young princess with an enchanted apple. She also has a habit of turning dwarves into stone statues with which she decorates her palace. Her fate is even more ignominious than in most versions of the tale. At the climax of the film she becomes a withered old crone once again and is later throttled to death by the numerous dwarves whom she had turned to stone who have now been released from her spell. It is implied that she is driven to evil by the Green-Eyed Granter of Wishes so that he can destroy her. Elspeth describes her brother as cruel and throughout the film he shows a remorseless joy in tormenting his sister.

Once Upon a Time

In the new ABC Family TV series, Once Upon a Time, the Queen casts a spell on all fairy tale characters making them forget their true identities in a parallel world and in the Real World becomes the foster mother of Henry as well as the Mayor of Storybrooke. It is revealed that the Queen resided in a castle with her father, Henry, in the Enchanted Forest, when she decided to cast the Dark Curse on the world as a punishment to Snow White. When the Curse did not work, the Queen went to Rumpelstilskin, who told her that she had to cut the heart out of the thing she loved most to invoke the full power of the curse. She then proceeds to cut the heart out of her own father and gives the heart to the Dark Curse to fully invoke it.

The Evil Queen in pop culture

  • In Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), Alvie mentions that when he saw Disney's Snow White, he was attracted to the Evil Queen. He then daydreams an animated scene where even the Queen (voiced by Diane Keaton) scolds him.
  • In Terry Gilliam's fantasy film The Brothers Grimm, Monica Bellucci plays a villainous character modelled after the Queen. Known as the Toringian Queen (also known as the Mirror Queen) she is extremely vain, obsessed with preserving her youth and beauty and being the fairest in the land and has a gigantic mirror in her chamber.
  • One of the main antagonists in the Sailor Moon manga and anime, Queen Nehellenia is based on many evil sorceresses from fairy tales, with a particular emphasis on the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Snow Queen. Like the Snow Queen and the Evil Queen she has a large magic mirror and like the latter she is extremely vain and arrogant.
  • In Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire, the Queen and Witch are personified as Lucrezia Borgia.
  • This fictional character appeared in the 1961 film Snow White and the Three Stooges. She was played by Patricia Medina in the film.
  • Ellen Reid's 2001 debut album Cinderellen features the song "In Defense of the Wicked Queen", which tells the story from the Queen's perspective.
  • In The Berenstain Bears book Trick or Treat, Queenie dresses as the Wicked Queen for Halloween.
  • In the Family Guy Season 7 episode "Road to the Multiverse", Stewie and Brian Griffin go to a Disney Universe where the characters are as Disney characters, and Herbert appears as the disguised Queen, saying "You want a nice shiny red apple to go with that pie?" (after the characters have just sung a song about pie). They all yell "No!" and throw pies in his face.
  • In Season Five of Charmed, the Queen appears as a Wicked Witch who uses fairy tales for evil. She asks the Magic Mirror; who is the most powerful witch of all?
  • In the 1962 film Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood she is the misstress of all evil and the queen of all monsters in the world. She has a green face like Maleficent and dies when the Little Red Riding Hood tricks her to fall into a furnace-like shrine of Satan at her castle.
  • In a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch, housekeeper Alice Nelson portrays the Queen when the Bradys and Sam the Butcher help Cindy stage a re-enactment of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  • In the 2007 film Sydney White, Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) plays the role of the Queen.
  • In the Perform This Way video, Weird Al dresses up as the evil queen while dressed as Lady Gaga.

Movie is 3 thumbs up best Halloween Video this year.

See also


  1. ^ a b Terri Windling, "Snow, Glass, Apples: the story of Snow White"
  2. ^ Brothers Grimm (2002). "Little Snow White". The Complete Fairy Tales. Routledge Classics. ISBN 0415285968. 
  3. ^ "Disney Villains: Queen" Retrieved 1-25-2011
  4. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains
  5. ^ Serena Valentino: Author and Lady About Town
  6. ^ Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
  7. ^ Snow White (1987) - IMDb
  8. ^ Simon Moore, The 10th Kingdom, DVD, directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise, New York: Hallmark Entertainment, 2000.

External links

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