Morals in Stories

by Allison Wilson

Over time Snow White has managed to remain a prevalent story that we’ve almost all heard or seen as children. This made me begin to wonder why that is and what the moral of the story is that we’re supposed to come away with. Snow White—at least in this version— is only really described by her looks. She is beautiful, and she is also “the fairest of the land”. I never really questioned this statement before but the world “fair” holds quite a lot of significance. Snow White is praised for being as “white as snow” which could be taken for her skin colour as she is the “fairest” but also with virginity. Neither of these statements being worthy of this praise makes it seem questionable what we really are presenting as an ideal of beauty and whether or not this should still be a prevalent story. In defense of the story, however, the Evil Queen is always envious and in search of these qualities in Snow and this vanity in her is what leads to her own downfall. Could the story then be seen as an advocate against vanity and the desire to be the “fairest”?

This then led me to begin to question the morals being imposed in the other two stories as well. In Earthquake in Chile, their mistake seems to be that they didn’t escape from the city as a family when they had the chance. Could this then be seen as a sentiment to live a simpler life and praise of Rousseau’s philosophies? Or are they receiving just punishment for the crimes they have already committed? 

I then looked at Fair-Haired Eckbert for its moral. It again seems to praise a simpler life, Bertha could have remained living in the hut with the old woman and been content, but her desire for more led her to marry her brother. That being said though would it really have been much of a life to have remained with the old woman? For the time that Bertha lives in the city with her husband (and with the ignorance that she doesn’t know it is her brother), she seems content. It is only when they reveal this story does it lead to their own knowledge and unhappiness. Therefore was it in telling her story that was Bertha’s downfall? What does this story say about knowledge and community vs solitude?