Once upon a time, as a Queen sits sewing at her window, she pricks her finger on her needle and three drops of blood fall on the snow that had fallen on her ebony window frame. As she looks at the blood on the snow, she says to herself, “Oh, how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony”. Soon after that, the Queen gives birth to a baby girl who has skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. They name her Princess Snow White. As soon as the child is born, the Queen dies.
Soon after, the king takes a new wife, who is beautiful but also very vain. The new Queen possesses a magical mirror, an animate object that answers any question, to whom she often asks: “Magic mirror on the wall / Who is the fairest of them all?” (in German ”Spieglein, Spieglein, an der Wand / Wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?”; in Italian ”Specchio, servo delle mie brame, chi è la più bella di tutto il reame?” ), to which the mirror always replies, “You, my queen, are fairest of all.” But, when Snow White reaches the age of seven, she becomes as beautiful as the day and, when the Queen asks her mirror, it responds: “Queen, you are full fair, it is true, but Snow White is fairer than you.” In another version of the tale, the mirror simply replies: “Snow White is the fairest of them all.”
The Queen becomes jealous and orders a Huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed. She demands that, as proof Snow White is dead, he return with her lungs and her liver. The Huntsman takes Snow White into the forest; but, after raising his knife, he finds himself unable to kill her, as he has fallen deeply in love with her. Instead, he lets her go, telling her to flee and hide from the Queen. He then brings the Queen the lungs and liver of a boar, which is prepared by the cook and eaten by the Queen.
In the forest, Snow White discovers a tiny cottage belonging to a group of seven dwarfs, where she rests. There, the dwarfs take pity on her, saying “If you will keep house for us, and cook, make beds, wash, sew, and knit, and keep everything clean and orderly, then you can stay with us, and you shall have everything that you want.” They warn her to take care, to let no one in when they are away delving in the mountains. Meanwhile, the Queen asks her mirror once again, “Who’s the fairest of them all?”; and she is horrified to learn that Snow White is, not only alive and well and living with dwarfs, but is still the fairest of them all.
Three times, the Queen disguises herself and visits the dwarfs’ cottage while they are away, trying to kill Snow White. First, disguised as an old peddlerwoman, the Queen offers colorful stay-laces and laces them so tight that Snow White faints, causing the Queen to leave her for dead. However, Snow White revives when the dwarfs loosen the laces. Next, the Queen dresses as a different old woman and brushes Snow White’s hair with a poisonedcomb. Snow White again faints but again is saved by the dwarfs. Finally, the Queen makes a poisoned apple and, in the disguise of a farmer’s wife, offers it to Snow White. When she is hesitant to accept it, the Queen cuts the apple in half, eats the white part, and gives the poisoned red part to Snow White. She eagerly takes a bite and falls into a deep stupor. This time, the dwarfs are unable to revive her and, assuming that she is dead, place her in a glass coffin.
Time passes, and a Prince traveling through the land sees Snow White. He strides to her coffin. The Prince is enchanted by her beauty and instantly falls in love with her. The dwarfs succumb to his entreaties to let him have the coffin; and, as his servants carry the coffin away, they stumble on some roots, causing the piece of poisoned apple to dislodge from Snow White’s throat, awakening her (in later adaptions of the tale, the Prince kisses Snow White, which brings her back to life). The Prince declares his love for her, and soon a wedding is planned.
The vain Queen, still believing that Snow White is dead, again asks her magical mirror who is the fairest in the land, and yet again the mirror disappoints her by responding, “You, my Queen, are fair; it is true. But the young Queen is a thousand times fairer than you.”
Not knowing that this new queen was indeed her stepdaughter, she arrives at the wedding, and her heart fills with the deepest of dread when she realizes the truth. As punishment for her wicked ways, a pair of heated iron shoes are brought forth with tongs and placed before the Queen. She is then forced to step into the iron shoes and dance until she drops dead.