Wait a minute.

I just realized, not only does the wicked queen order a huntsman to kill Snow White, she orders him to bring back her heart in a box. Not only does she order the huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart in a box, she has a special fancy box built for exactly that purpose, on a moment’s notice.hits counter

I’m trying to imagine the conversation between the wicked queen and the guy she hires to construct the box:

QUEEN: So, I’m thinking of box, a wooden box, with a lid, about yea big, just big enough to put a human heart into it.
CRAFTSMAN: A human heart, your majesty?
QUEEN: Yes, a human heart. Of, like, a teenage girl.
CRAFTSMAN: May I ask your majesty why she needs a box large enough to put the heart of a teenage girl into it?
QUEEN: No you may not.
CRAFTSMAN: All right.
(He produces a quick sketch.)
CRAFTSMAN: Something like this, perhaps, your majesty?
QUEEN: Hm. It’s a little plain.
CRAFTSMAN: Well, it’s for storing a human heart, I assumed, perhaps falsely, that ostentation was to be eschewed.
QUEEN: But look around you! I have any number of storage boxes sitting around, how will I know which one contains the heart of the teenage girl?
CRAFTSMAN: Well, perhaps, um, I could make it more like a little casket, a little coffin, like it’s a coffin just big enough to hold a heart. In fact, I could put a little heart on it, in inlaid wood. The box could be mainly of redwood, but the heart could be ash or birch. Something like this.
(He amends his sketch.)
QUEEN: Yes, yes, I see. But supposing I have many hearts in wooden boxes, how will I know which one is the teenage girl’s? Could you put, say, a dagger running through the heart, just so I can keep it straight, so it doesn’t get lost among my other boxes? After all, I’d hate to go to my royal dresser to get a nice pair of earrings and accidentally open the box with the rotting human heart in it.
CRAFTSMAN: Quite so, your majesty.
(He amends his sketch.)
CRAFTSMAN: And here, I can inlay some nice decorations along the sides, in teal, and of course reinforce all the corners in brass.
QUEEN: Excellent, that looks really good.
CRAFTSMAN: This will take about, mm, six weeks.
QUEEN: Well, actually I need it tomorrow morning.
CRAFTSMAN: T-tomorrow, your majesty?
QUEEN: Well, yes. I just got the news from the slave in my magic mirror this morning about this teenage girl I need to kill, I’m sending a huntsman to kill her out in the woods tomorrow morning. How am I supposed to know if he’s done his job if he doesn’t bring back her heart in a special box?
CRAFTSMAN: I see. Yes, I see how that would create a problem. I’ll see what I can do your majesty.


35 Responses to “Wait a minute.”
  1. sailortweek says:

    It would go very much like that. I beleive you hit the nail on the head. Now…if it were done today by a Disney/Burton hybrid, we would need ot set that to music.

  2. swan_tower says:

    My fairy-tale-twist-loving self <3s this conversation. 🙂

  3. I hadn’t thought of this when I did my write-up on the movie. In some versions of the fairy tale I’ve seen, it’s mentioned that the Queen has previously had other women killed for the crime of being more beautiful than she is, so maybe she used the same box for transporting all of their hearts and put them in something else or just threw them away upon receiving them. After all, she only says that she wants the heart as proof of Snow White’s death, not what she intends to do with it afterwards.

    Come to think of it, I don’t know why the Queen bothers with all this secrecy and having Humbert (the hunstman) take Snow White out near the woods to be killed. What’s stopping the Queen from just having her stepdaughter executed right in front of her, maybe in some secret chamber if doing in in sight of anyone else who might be in the castle would be impolitic?

    • Todd says:

      Well, Snow White is the princess after all — there would probably be trouble.

      On the other point, yes, I suppose if one made a habit of slaughtering one’s enemies and getting their hearts delivered to you, I guess you might as well have a box made for the purpose. But if you’re going to do that, why not have a bigger box made so you can get their heads delivered? After all, there’s no real way for her to tell it’s not, say, a stag’s heart in the box.

      • True. And the idea that someone might object to the Queen’s mistreatment of Snow White is the only reason I can think of that she’s wearing her “princess” dress instead of the rags she’s in when we first meet her when Humbert takes her out to take wildflowers. But if the Queen can freely demote her stepdaughter to scullery maid in the comfort of her own castle, would it really be that much more trouble to have her killed there?

        The head box would make a lot more sense, though if we’re still assuming that all of these killings were meant to be kept on the down-low, it would be pretty conspicuous tot tote back and forth. And there’s no evidence in the actual movie that the Queen has had anyone killed before. There was an earlier draft of the film that made it clear that if Humbert disobeyed the Queen’s orders, she would have his own children killed. So maybe it just never occurred to the Queen that he or anyone else would ever think to go against her wishes.

        • Todd says:

          The Queen threatens Humbert pretty directly. We never hear the actual threat, but we see that he takes it pretty damn seriously.

          My wife informs me that the Queen, traditionally, married the King and the King died, and Snow White is not yet of age. So the Queen’s disposition toward public execution would depend on what kind of power she thinks she has, whether “the people” would prefer the King’s lineage or if Queen Wicked is doing a good job of running the kingdom, and what kind of relationship she has with the army.

          • jvowles says:

            My take is that the Queen is technically regent, and holds power while Snow White — the hereditary monarch — is still a child. So she has to periodically trot the child out to prove she’s still ruling as the protector of the legal heir.

            Her witchcraft seems more along the lines of alchemy or advanced herbalism — not the more practical kind practiced by, say, Maleficent in a later movie. Thus, she is vulnerable to physical force, and could be overthrown. So I suspect the population is deceived rather than dominated.

            Sadly, beauty and skill with potions do not a wise ruler make, especially one that’s so obsessed with her looks that she’s willing to off the one legitimate claim to the throne she possesses.

            Perhaps she’s following Humperdink’s lead, and intends to use the outrage over the dead princess to wage war against the neighboring kingdom, or to stamp out the dwarves and take control of their clearly lucrative mining operation.

            • Todd says:

              Yeah, I don’t know how the dwarfs stayed a secret for so long. Or, for that matter, why they live in a freakin’ house in the woods when they could have a freakin’ castle of their own.

      • I would think it depends on how long you want to keep the hearts. If she’s just getting it to make sure the victim’s dead, then yeah, one box will do. But what if she’s keeping trophies like any good serial killer? (Okay, most serial killers actually do the killing themselves, but still.) She’d need a new box to keep them in. What if keeping the hearts around is required by the magic she presumably uses to keep looking beautiful? Again, new box.

        As to why a heart, not a head, heads get UGLY pretty quick (look at Erastes Fullmen’s head in “Rome” after a few weeks, or how readily Octavian buys Pullo’s excuse that Caesarion’s head went bad in transit.) A heart might dry out to a nice black shrivelled thing. (Hm. Maybe once it does she transfers it to a glass jar and uses the box for her next victim?)

        One would think, though, a hand would be better–not as messy as a head, but more identifiable. Though really, a deer heart doesn’t REALLY look that much like a human heart, unless you don’t look very close, and the Queen never struck me as squeamish.

        And why the *hell* am I putting so much thought into this? Anyhoo, if I worked for a boss like that and she says she wants a box for a heart, I’m just going to say ‘yes ma’am’ and make the box.

        • Todd says:

          Well, but you could lose a hand and still be alive. Not so much with a heart — unless your huntsman is also a heart surgeon and can supply your victim with a Jarvik artificial heart.

          • True, true. A heart or a head is pretty final.

            Eyes? I mean, yes, you technically COULD live, but alone in the woods, blind, bleeding?

            And the heart…it’s been a while since I did the butchering but I’m not even sure that a deer’s heart has the right number of chambers. Might be four.

            Also–is there a reason the queen couldn’t magic up the box herself? Her powers seem to include actual physical transformation (the change to Crone appears to be physical and when she dies she doesn’t change back, arguing it’s not a glamour.)

            Okay, I am putting way too much thought into this. Enjoy ficlet, stop overthinking.

  4. misterseth says:

    Ha! Great article Todd! It’s funny you brought it up tho, I have had my own twist on the heart in the box scene in the back of my head. Details to follow…

  5. laminator_x says:

    CRAFTSMAN: Of course your majesty must realize that meeting your delivery window without compromising quality will involve certain additional costs; overtime, rush shipping of the gold leaf, that sort of thing.

  6. notthebuddha says:

    Wow – I haven’t seen Snow White fan fiction in a good while.

    Of course, the dagger- or sword-pierced heart is a biblical image for the suffering of Mary and Jesus, and is a popular Catholic icon. So not only is the Queen a murdering sorceress, but she’s a sacreligous apostate mocking the Crucifixion by using the Sacred Heart to hide the murdered girl’s heart.

    Now try to guess which dwarf is Judas…

  7. popebuck1 says:

    And of course, Disney totally left out the scene where the huntsman kills a lamb and takes its heart to bring back to the Queen instead. Stupid Disney, candy-coating everything!

    • They don’t actually show anything, but the mirror informs the Queen that what she actually has in the box (which is never seen) is a pig’s heart.

      • popebuck1 says:

        That’s right, I had forgotten. Still, imagine what a wonderful job Disney could have done with the pig-slaughtering scene!

        • rennameeks says:

          Disney has a history of chickening out on pig-slaughtering scenes, as evidenced by the survival of the first two of the Three Little Pigs.

          The huntsman should have used a deer’s heart, since we know that Disney’s okay with killing them.

          • Todd says:

            Holy shit — the Huntsman killed Bambi’s mother! IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!

          • I think the pig’s heart works better thematically. The Queen is obsessed with beauty, but all she ever ends up with is ugliness that reflects her inner character. So the heart of an animal generally viewed as filthy and unattractive is more appropriate than the heart of one seen as beautiful and graceful.

        • Disney got enough grief as it was for the amount of scariness that did end up in the film. There were rumors that theaters showing the movie had to constantly reupholster their seats because the more frightening moments were causing the wee ones in the audience to…well, wee.

          You should see the sheer amount of discussion that there was about how to do the death of Bambi’s mother and whether or not to show the dead bodies of the hunters, killed by the fire they had inadvertently started.

          • rennameeks says:

            Compare that with some of the more recent villains…one of them was HANGED to death in the 90s, which actually disturbed me a bit for a Disney movie, even though it wasn’t actually shown.

            • Yeah, that surprised me too, partly because the whole concept of hanging gives me the willies. Tarzan is pretty rough in general. Did you ever notice that you can still hear the baby gorilla screaming when Kerchak and Kala arrive on the scene?

    • Anonymous says:

      Beano from High School

      Yes, tis I. I was reading your blog yesterday and sent a response on the Ghost of Christmas Past.(hastily typed with horid spelling) Today I sit in my office at school wondering why I have to grade students’ set designs rather than write clever bits about films I like. But I realize, as memory has dustily served me, you were always the clever one. “Wheter tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or dash it all on an OD of angel dust?” Remember that gem? Check my other entry for another fine memory – all pleasant, all smiles. Peace, you old sod!

      • pirateman says:

        Re: Beano from High School

        Wait, this can’t be directed at me. Todd? I think this is a friend of yours…

        • Todd says:

          Re: Beano from High School

          So it is! I welcome Eugene “Beano” O’Reilly to this journal.

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Beano from High School

            Never have responded to one of these before, I’m soooo nervous! Cograts on all of your success. I am, in my own way, successful here in my world. 2 kids ( one in college) and a great wife who gets my sense of humor – along with a great job in theatre. On the above subject I will say that when the evil queen walks down the stairs to her lair is one of my favorite moments in classic animation. So graceful – she reminds me of Kate Blanchett in Lord of the Rings.