I expected that these stories would have a lot in common … and wow, I was wrong about that.
The stories are similar primarily in their inclusion of common elements. The stories share many of their characters: a queen, a magical mirror, a beautiful Snow White, a Huntsman, and a Prince. The stories also share similar actions, such as the three gifts from the queen to Snow White, which are a girdle (or laces, which seem to be worn the same as the girdle), a comb, and a poison apple that puts her into a death-like sleep. Both stories also involve the prince waking Snow White from her sleep.
However, that is about where the similarities stop. In the Grimm version of the story, Little Snow White is innocent and naive, and her mother is the current queen at the time of the story. However, in Red as Blood, the queen is Snow White’s step-mother, and the character of Snow White is much different than we might expect – her name is Bianca, and she’s a vampire. Many of the other differences in the stories revolve around these major character shifts: in Lee’s version, Bianca is a vampire and her stepmother is a religious woman. This contrasts with the Grimm version where Little Snow White’s mother is simply jealous of Snow White’s beauty. Interestingly, the mirror in Red as Blood cannot see Bianca – I would guess that this is because she is a vampire.
This reversal impacts the rest of the story’s details. For example, in Grimm’s version, the huntsman cannot bear to kill Snow White and returns to the queen with a boar’s insides instead, but in Red as Blood, he attempts to kill Snow White and is instead tricked out of it which leads to his own death. Snow White’s encounters in the forest are also different. In Little Snow White, the dwarfs are present as expected, but in Red as Blood they are not the dwarfs we are accustomed to envisioning, but instead dwarf trees.
The stories’ endings are also quite different – in Grimms’ Little Snow White, the prince saves Snow White and the queen dies by being forced to dance to death in iron slippers. However, in Lee’s Red as Blood, it could be said that the prince “saves” Bianca, but in a very different way. Bianca’s saving is a religious conversion, her savior has a scar on his wrist where “a nail had been driven in there” implying that she is saved by Jesus to begin a new life. This is confirmed by her transformation into a dove, a creature symbolizing innocence and peace, as well as her ability to wear a crucifix and be seen by the mirror. In Red as Blood, the step-mother “saves” the vampire Snow White, which is very different from the original where the prince must save Snow White from her mother’s poison apple.