Guest Post: Snow White and Philosophy

Snow White and Philosophy
This post is the second in a series that was written by students in my introduction to philosophy course as an extra credit assignment. Today’s guest author is Kaley White

Disney Movies: Still Teaching the Young at Heart

I grew up in a house were we didn’t watch much television, that is until it came down to Disney Movies.  It was a special time where my entire family piled into the living room and would put on The Fox and the Hound, The Lion King, or Beauty and the Beast.  This is something I still do with my four, much younger, siblings.  I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I slowly started seeing these movies in a different way.  Not worse or better just differently – as in certain lines or scenes meant something more to me than they had before.  This alone reminded me of the Perspectivalism model.  Even though Perspectivalism is talking about science and religion, I feel as though it still applies here, but instead of science and religion I substituted them for children and adults.  Perspectivalism says that science and religion are looking at the same realm of reality just differently, and that’s how children and adults watch Disney movies.  They are both watching the same movie and just understanding the different aspects of it.

“You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” -Walt Disney

I have been watching the Disney classics for twenty years now and probably the next twenty, but the things that amaze me the most about these movies are how much I still learn from them.  For starters, look at the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  This movie is one of my favorites that I have learned and noticed news things nearly every time I watch it.  There are several things that I bet not many people knew about this movie though; like Snow White’s appearance of lips of red, hair of black, and skin white as snow has a philosophical meaning.   Her looks have alchemical principles that reflect Hermetic Philosophy, which is dealing with purification, and as it turns out, that is the background of the whole story.  “Snow White” the name alone is the first example they give us, because the color white represents purity.  In case you are not familiar with this story, Snow White is a young girl who is so beautiful that the evil queen wants her dead.  The evil queen sends a hunter after Snow to kill her but ultimately lets her go free into the woods where she finds the seven dwarfs’ house.

When Snow White gets the seven dwarfs’ house she immediately starts to clean.

This is where the purification continues.  Ancient philosophers believed that there were two realms.  The first was the physical realm that held body, sensations, emotions, and concrete mind.  Then the pure mind, will, and intuition were found in the spiritual realm.  Together the two realms were referred to as the Planes of Consciousness, and when all seven planes found perfect bliss a person could become enlightened and pure.  Going back to the story when Snow White was cleaning, she was starting the process of purification of herself by having the seven dwarfs live in a serene environment (perfect bliss).

Snow White and PhilosophyWhen the evil queen realizes that the hunter didn’t kill Snow, the queen finds her in the woods and brings her a poison apple.  The evil queen tells her that the apple will give her all of the things she truly wants, but as soon as Snow takes a bite she dies.  This part is the part of the story where many say it is based off religion, and in my opinion is that it is whichever way you look at it (Perspectivalism again).  Look at the apple as in it is representing the heart and its physical desires.  In Buddhist philosophy the physical world is said to be an illusion as in we should not allow ourselves to be attached to worldly pleasures, and if we do so we will be consumed in a trance of ignorance (Snow White’s death).

I choose to point out Snow White simply because the movie itself was particularly special to me growing up.  Once I started really looking at my older Disney movies, television shows and so on I started to realize how much of our world had multiple meanings that I never took into consideration before.  After I’ve picked through the rest of my Disney collection I am truly excited to go back and re-watch my favorite T.V. show LOST which is largely based off philosophy itself.

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