for the Snow White and Rose Red fairy tale are below. Sources have been cited in parenthetical
references, but I have not linked them directly to their full citations
which appear on the Snow White and Rose Red Bibliography page. I have provided links back to the Annotated
Snow White and Rose Red to facilitate referencing between the notes and the tale.
I have included the Grimms' notes to the tale as translated by Margaret Hunt followed by SurLaLune's textual annotations.
The Grimms' Notes For the Tale
I have used Caroline Stahl's story, Der undankbare Zwerg, the contents of which will be given afterwards, but I have told it in my own fashion. The saying-
Will ye strike your lover dead?"
which is taken from a popular song, is to be found in a child's story in the Taschenbuch Minerva, for the year 1813, p. 32, and may refer to this story. Here the malicious nature of the dwarf is predominant and the bear appears to take revenge on him for his own transformation into the shape of that animal, of which the dwarf seems to have been the cause.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Household Tales. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.
1.Widow: This is one of the few of the better known tales in which the birth mother is alive and the father is dead. Widowhood is often a noble but poverty-stricken status. The death of the father also accounts for the humble means of the family which is shown throughout the story. This is also one of the few popular fairy tales which features a happy and functional single parent family.
The Grimms' primary source for this story was Caroline Stahl's "The Ungrateful Dwarf." They changed Stahl's story about a poor couple with many children to a widowed mother with two daughters, an unusual choice for the patriarchal Grimms.
An English language version of "The Ungrateful Dwarf" is available in:
Zipes, Jack, ed. The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001. Buy the book in paperback.
2.Rose: Roses symbolize completion, perfection, beauty, female sex organs, and the heart (Olderr 1986). The roses in the garden symbolize the two daughters, of course. The roses show that the daughters are beautiful although a physical description of beauty is not given for either one. Combined, the two sisters represent perfection in their temperments and talents. Return to place in story.
3.White: White is the color of purity, simplicity, wisdom, humility, integrity, joy, and perfection (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
4.Red: Red is the color of passion, love, courage, creative force, charity, loyalty, and primitive wildness (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
5.Snow-white: Snow-white's description fits her name. She is more sedate and quiet without the outward passion her sister represents. Snow-white prefers to stay inside with her mother which also accounts for her lighter coloring since the sun cannot darken her skin. She prefers the winter with its muted colors. This is the time in which she is most active in keeping their home warm and cozy. The name of Snow-white can be found in other tales, especially the more famous Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Return to place in story.
6.Rose-red: Rose-red is described as active and passionate with her favorite activities of being outside. She runs about and gathers flower. She is later described as keeping their home bright and pretty in the spring and summer when she would be happiest. Return to place in story.
7.Best children: The story is one of domestic tranquility which is disturbed, but not broken, by outside forces. All of the family members get along with each other in a peaceful coexistence. The children are not rivals. They are obedient and devoted to their mother and each other. Return to place in story.
8.Hand in hand: Holding hands is a sign of devotion. It can be more intimate than hugging because skin touches skin unless gloves are worn. Exploring hand in hand in a large forest would also help the girls stick together and not lose sight of each other. Return to place in story.
9.Hurt them: From the legend of the unicorn to the Old Testament's Daniel in the lion's den, the ability to interact with wild animals without fear or harm illustrates a person's purity and blessed state. The girls' safety also foreshadows their willingness to let a wild bear into their home. Return to place in story.
10.Hare: The hare can symbolize procreation, diligent service, resourcefulness, a male figure, vigilance, curiosity, and fertility (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
12.Stag: The stag represents longevity, regeneration, growth, agility, grace, fertility, beauty, and chastity (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
13.Birds: Talking and singing birds represent amorous yearning. A bird can symbolize air, wind, time, immortality, the female principle, aspiration, prophecy, love, and freedom (Olderr 1986). In the story, the fact that the birds do not fly away means they are not scared of the two girls who have no evil or dangerous intentions, but are innocent of ill actions. Return to place in story.
14.Wood: Woods or forests frequently appear as settings in fairy tales. Forests symbolize the female principle, the unconscious, danger, mistakes, problems, fertility, and enchantment. They often serve as the homes for outlaws such as in the Robin Hood legend, fairies, or supernatural beings (Olderr 1986). Although the forest is often a place of danger and testing in fairy tales, the simpler term of "wood" is used here perhaps to downplay the stereotypes that the forest often represents. In this story, the woods are simply a playground for the girls who are immune to danger. Their lack of conflict in the woods further emphasizes the story's message that the girls are too pure and good to be harmed. Return to place in story.
15.Moss: Moss symbolizes humility, service and friendship (Olderr 1986). Moss is often used in stories as bedding material. Its soft surface is preferrable to the hard ground. Moss is also more abundant in forests where grass cannot grow as well due to the lack of sunlight reaching the ground. Return to place in story.
16.Beautiful child: The appearance of a protecting angel perpetuates the Christian elements emphasized by the Grimms. The angel, like the tame animals, suggests the girls are pure in heart and thus blessed by a higher power. This divine protection also lessens the readers' fear for the characters. We are encouraged to believe the sisters will be safe and happy at the end of the story. Return to place in story.
17.Cottage: A cottage represents the simple and carefree country life or a humble life (Olderr 1986). The mother and her two daughters live in a cottage which shows their humble circumstances. Their happiness shows they happily live a simpler life. Their ability to be content with what they have may be considered a reason for their greater rewards at the end of the story when they move into the palace. Return to place in story.
18.Read aloud: Reading shows intelligence and education, especially in the time before public education. The girls know how to read which is a prized skill and suggests they are smart. The family may be poor now, but their ability to read suggests reduced circumstances, perhaps from the death of the husband/father. Return to place in story.
19.Span: The girls are spinning thread, the early stage of clothing production. This activity was common among the women of a household in past centuries and emphasizes the tranquil domestic setting.
According to Webster's Dictionary, spinning is "to draw out, and twist into threads, either by the hand or machinery; as, to spin wool, cotton, or flax." Return to place in story.
20.Lamb: A lamb represents sweetness, forgiveness, meekness, docility, innocence, temperance, purity, and justice (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
21.Dove: The dove represents aspiration, gentleness, truth, wisdom, love, humility, innocence, purity, simplicity, peace, and sometimes a girl from 10 to 20 years of age (Olderr 1986). Although the story refers to the characters as "girls," it can be assumed that they are of a marrying age since they do so at the end of the story. They are not "young girls" below the age of puberty although this is often how they are portrayed in illustrations. Return to place in story.
22.Knocked at the door: Once we know the knocker is a bear, this human action signifies that the bear must be more than he appears. Notice that the family of women is not afraid to open the door at the unexpected knock. This is a family unused to physical danger. Return to place in story.
23.Traveler: A traveler is a seeker after truth or someone engaged in personal development (Olderr 1986). In the past before the abundance of hotels and other commerical lodgings, travelers were often welcome in homes for little or no charge. The traveler's appearance is not surprising, except for his animal form, of course. Return to place in story.
24.Bear: A bear represents bravery, strength, self-restraint, an evil influence, a problem or difficulty, an obstacle, violence, clumsiness, and solitary life (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
25.Bear began to speak: Disregarding the angel mentioned earlier, the bear is the first fantasical or magical element to appear in the story. Many scholars do not consider a tale to be a fairy tale unless it has magical elements in it. A talking bear qualifies this story to be a fairy tale. A polite, talking bear also calls on a family at home in East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Return to place in story.
26.Fetched a brush: The brush is for grooming the bear. Brushing the fur of an animal is the way to clean and keep it healthy. Return to place in story.
27."Snow-white and Rose-red,/Don't beat your lover dead.": This story, like so many, has a memorable phrase which will be remembered after the story is finished. Return to place in story.
28.Hearth: The hearth represents the home, love, filial loyalty, hospitality, sanctuary, temperance, and conjunction of the masculine and feminine principles (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
29.Pranks: The Grimms' continue to embellish their story with details of a happy home life. The sisters tease and flirt with the bear who allows their playfulness with good spirit. Return to place in story.
30.Green: Green represents fertility, life, spring, growth, rebirth, youth, hope, freshness, innocence, liberty, peace, expectation, and obedience (Olderr 1986). In the story it may only reinforce the image of spring, but it also implies that the true action of the story is about to begin, which it does. Return to place in story.
31.Treasure: A bear with treasure is an unusual event, but Snow White does not seem to be surprised by the revelation. The family, albeit in humble circumstances, are happy and are not seeking riches or repayment for their hospitality. Return to place in story.
32.Wicked dwarfs: Dwarfs are often portrayed as legendary creatures resembling tiny old men. They live in the depths of the earth and guards buried treasure. This stereotype of a dwarf is more common in folklore than the better known dwarfs found in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Return to place in story.
33.Glittering gold: Gold is one of the most precious metals. The hint of gold under his fur further suggests that the bear is not a natural bear, perhaps someone with riches under a curse. Return to place in story.
35.Beard: A beard or hair has many symbolic meanings. First of all, it is often connected with magical powers. It is also considered a sign of invulnerability, like the Bible figure of Samson. In connection with the dwarf and even Bluebeard, hair is "the sign of the animal in the human, and all that means in terms of our tradition of associating the beast with the bestial" (Warner 1994). Cutting a beard is a sign of shame, infamy, and servility (Olderr 1986). In the case of the dwarf, the beard is also a sign of his vanity which he does not want to have cut. Return to place in story.
37.Cut off: In Caroline Stahl's story, "The Ungrateful Dwarf," Snow White encounters the dwarf by herself the first time and cuts off part of the beard to free the dwarf. The dwarf is ungrateful, but not as abusive in Stahl's story. Return to place in story.
38.Curse: The girls, instead of receiving thanks and a reward for their help, are cursed at for cutting the dwarf's beard. Despite this experience, the girls will continue to help those in need, including the dwarf. Return to place in story.
39.Jericho: Jericho appears in the Old Testament. It was the first town the Israelites encountered after entering their Promised Land. The Israelite prophet, Joshua, was ordered to have his people march around the walls of the city for seven days while the priests played trumpets. On the seventh day, all of the people shouted and played the trumpets at once. The walls around Jericho tumbled down and the Israelites were able to take over the city. Sending someone to Jericho in a curse is essentially a wish for the same kind of problem to happen to him or her. Return to place in story.
40.Pearls: Pearls represent the human soul, innocence, purity, genius in obscurity, tears, parthenogenesis, faith, esoteric wisdom, wealth, health, self-sacrifice, and salvation (Olderr 1986). It is fitting that the dwarf has pearls near a body of water since they are created in bodies of water. Return to place in story.
41.Heath: Heath is a plant that is usually found in open, barren, poorly drained soil. In Britain, heath also refers to an uncultivated plot of land which has poor, coarse undrained soil which is rich in peat (Webster's Dictionary 1990). Return to place in story.
42.Eagle: An eagle represents height, daring, speed, heroic nobility, male fertility, regeneration, pride, dalliance, generosity, sun, fire, day, the heavens, and air (Olderr 1986). As a bird of prey, the eagle is dangerous to the small man, easily able to carry the man and kill him. Return to place in story.
43.Precious stones: Precious stones would include diamonds, emeralds and rubies, as well as other less precious stones such as sapphires and amethysts. Return to place in story.
44.One blow: In Stahl's story, the bear is not a magical creature and doesn't appear until the end of the story as the means of providing justice to the greedy dwarf. Stahl adds the observation that the dwarf deserved his fate and no one mourned him. The Grimms added the magically cursed bear and explained that the dwarf must die for the curse to be broken. Their changes make the story bloodier and more violent.
Note that the dwarf is essentially given three chances to change his ways since the sisters rescue him three separate times. During his fourth endangerment he threatens them with death and consequently dies instead. Return to place in story.
46.King's son: A prince, of course, is a king's son. Marriage to a prince, or royalty of any kind, is a common theme in fairy tales, especially romantic ones in which category this tale falls. Return to place in story.
47.Married him: The Grimms' added the marriage elements of the story to their source material. These additions also increase the sisters' ages to a suitable marrying age despite the constant references to them as children. Note that many illustrators portray the sisters much younger to maintain their idyllic innocence.
In Stahl's tale, the girls find the dwarf's treasure and bring it back to their large family. The whole family is rich and buys grand estates and educations. They presumably live happily ever after. Return to place in story.
48.Brother: Since the sisters cannot decently "share" a husband, the next best solution is presented. The prince has a brother which one of the sisters can marry. In this way, both sisters marry princes and are joined together into the same family through marriage. During the time period of the story, they would be expected to reside with their husband's families. Since their husbands have the same family, the sisters may continue to live together and share their lives. Return to place in story.
49.Divided: Their mother's prediction rings true from the beginning of the tale when she says her children will always share. The girls share their bounty between themselves and their spouses. No room for jealousy exists between these loving siblings. Return to place in story.
50.Bore the finest red and white roses: This ending implies the traditional "happily ever after" common to many tales. The fact that the rose trees bear blooms for years after the story ends shows that the newlyweds are happy in their marriages and are fruitful, bearing many children which the flowers represent. Return to place in story.