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Q: Snow White's Age ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Snow White's Age
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: justwondering-ga
List Price: $2.50
Posted: 04 Nov 2002 12:08 PST
Expires: 04 Dec 2002 12:08 PST
Question ID: 98492
I'm trying to figure out how old Snow White is -- not the movie or the
story, but the character Snow White in the fairy tale at the time that
she is exiled to the forest...

I've checked a number of copies of the fairy tale and can't find it. 
Logic would say that she is 16 because it seems to be a pivotal
turning point for most fairy tales, but I can't substantiate this. 
Subject: Re: Snow White's Age
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 04 Nov 2002 14:15 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear justwondering-ga;

You posed such an interesting question that I became curious as to the
answer myself. Amazed by the results of my research, I couldn’t wait
to tell you what I’d found:

The fairy tale known as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, by Jacob
and Wilhelm Grimm, was first published in German in 1812. The story,
in its original form, (based upon an oral account) was originally
called “Little Snow-White”. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, of course, were
the “Brothers Grimm” of fairy tale fame. The story has been modified
somewhat over the years but the basic information contained in it has
remained much the same.

The story begins as Snow White’s mother gives birth and quickly moves
forward to a time when “Little Snow-White” is seven years old.

-	“Now Snow-White grew up, and when she was seven years old, she was
so beautiful, that she surpassed even the queen herself.” (“Little
Snow-White”, Germany, 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm)
-	“But snow-white was growing up, and grew more and more beautiful,and
when she was seven years old she was as beautiful as the day” (“Little
Snow-White” Grimm Brothers 1857 version

Immediately following this passage, the evil Queen is made aware of
the child and orders her to be murdered by a hunter. The hunter losses
his courage and the little girl is set free in the wilderness. She is
still seven years old. The interesting question now is, how much
during the course of the story did the girl age? The answer, I think,
will surprise you and will confirm her age at the time of her exile.

“Little Snow-White” as she is often referred to in the story, remains
at this age for the greater portion of the book. To further confirm
this, she is, at various times, referred to as “child”, “girl”,
“little” and at one point she chooses one of the “little beds” to
sleep in, indicating that the small piece of furniture was more than
sufficient in size to accommodate her prepubescent frame.

Toward the end of the book, an apple bearing an evil spell poisons
“Little Snow-White”, and she falls into a deep, death-like sleep. The
dwarfs place her sleeping body in a glass coffin and mourn her for
three days. It is then that two statements in the book imply the
passage of time, however brief:

-	“Snow-White lay there in the coffin a long, long time, and she did
not decay”

-	“One day a young prince came to the dwarfs' house and wanted shelter
for the night”

The book does not explain for certain how much time has passed, but
the character is never again referred to as “Little Snow-White”, but
merely, “Snow-White”. This is where logic and history come in, both of
which are instrumental in determining the actual age for the

Because the story is set in a fictional time, however loosely based
upon medieval customs, it is difficult to say for certain how old
Snow-White is when she is awakened, or if, in fact, she has aged at
all. It does, however, imply that while she lay in state that her body
appeared to remain unchanged. The clues to her age at the end of the
story are these passages:

-	“And now the king's son had it carried away by his servants on their
shoulders.  And it happened that they stumbled over a tree-stump, and
with the shock the poisonous piece of apple which snow-white had
bitten off came out of her throat.  And before long she opened her
eyes, lifted up the lid of the coffin, sat up, and was once more
alive.  Oh, heavens, where am I, she cried.  The king's son, full of
joy, said, you are with me.  And told her what had happened, and said,
I love you more than everything in the world, come with me to my
father's palace, you shall be my wife. And snow-white was willing, and
went with him, and their wedding was held with great show and
splendor.  But snow-white's wicked step-mother was also bidden to the

These passages indicate that Snow-White was old enough to appreciate
the magnitude and meaning of love and marriage and also old enough to
legally give her own consent for marriage (“…snow-white was willing,
and went with him”). Ironically (or coincidentally – however you’d
prefer to view it) the medieval age of consent for marriage among
females was generally accepted to be the age of seven.

As you probably already know, many details in the “Brother Grimm”
stories were diluted for the sake of modern consumption or deleted
altogether as they came to be viewed as “disgusting” or “perverted”.
(Case in point, children being eaten, mutilated or made slaves by evil
entities). This story is no different. Walt Disney was partly
responsible for the modern version of Snow White and many of the
changes that were made to the original story in an effort to make it
more palatable. With the information we now know, as difficult as it
is to accept in today’s society, we must assume that the story “Little
Snow White” (later, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”) took place when
the character Snow-White was the tender age of seven years old, not
only at the time of her exile in the forest, but indeed, throughout
the entire story! If Snow White at beginning of the book, and only
seven years old at the time of her betrothal (as was the medieval
custom) it is only logical to assume that she was only seven years old
at the time of her exile, which took place in the middle of the story.

I hope you find this research interesting and useful. I look forward
to your feedback on my research.

Best regards;

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

“Little Snow-White”
Germany, 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

“Little Snow-White” (alternatively titled: “Snow White and the Seven
Grimm Brothers 1857 version

Sauk Valley Community College – SVCC Academics
“Jan Van Eyck and the Arnolfini Marriage”
(Speaks on Medieval childhood and the “age of consent” issue)

Think Quest
“The Distaff Side”
(Speaks on Medieval childhood and the “age of consent” issue)

“Women in Medieval Society: Aspects of the Marriage”
By Kimberly Beumer
(Speaks on Medieval childhood and the “age of consent” issue)
justwondering-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Wow!  Thanks for the fantastic and detailed answer.  I've been trying
to find an answer to this question for years!  A friend of mine even
found a school class on the internet who was going to research it for
him.  But they never found an answer.  And, you did it so quickly! 
Thanks again!

Subject: Re: Snow White's Age
From: tutuzdad-ga on 04 Nov 2002 17:30 PST
Thank you for your generosity!

You are quite welcome for research. I look forward to next time.

Have a great day!


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