Compare & Contrast: Deviations in Travels with the Snow Queen and Deerskin

Kelly Link’s Travels with the Snow Queen is certainly a deviation from The Snow Queen. The main elements of the story remain intact: Gerda goes on a journey to the Snow Queen’s palace to find Kai, and the supporting characters that she meets along the way are reminiscent of those in the original. However, this story definitely deviates in that the “happily ever after” seems to be missing and in that the story is much more explicit in content – where the Snow Queen may have been able to pass as a story for all ages, this one has language and sexual references that are not appropriate for children.

This is reminiscent of the way that Deerskin is more explicit than the original Donkeyskin. Further, we can also draw a parallel between Travels with the Snow Queen and Deerskin in that a deeper dimension is given to the story. In Deerskin, the reader witnesses Lissar’s strength as a survivor as she overcomes an absolutely horrifying experience. In Travels with the Snow Queen, we see that Gerda is not stuck in a relationship with Kai – she can leave him if she chooses, and she does so by choosing to become a tour guide for the Snow Queen. This makes Gerda a very powerful heroine – she could have rescued Kai, but she chose not to, deciding that Kai was not deserving of her rescue.

I think one of the main differences that struck me between Travels with the Snow Queen and Deerskin is the point of view. Deerskin is told in the more conventional third person, whereas Travels with the Snow Queen is told in second person – at times it is difficult to place whether we are on Gerda’s tour or whether we are simply along for the ride with her in the story. In either case, the reader is very close to the story – in some cases, the story even seems to address the reader directly. This gives a very different effect from Deerskin, where there is more distance between the reader and the narrative.

Compare & Contrast: Sun, Moon, and Talia, Briar Rose, and Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

Again, this is a case where the three tales share some story elements, but have many differences in how the stories are executed. All of the stories have a princess (or lord’s daughter) who is destined to sleep after pricking her finger. In all of the stories, she is rescued by a prince (or a king) and wakes up. All stories also involve fairies of some sort.

Sun, Moon, and Talia also shares more similarities with Sleeping Beauty in the Wood in that both tales involve Sleeping Beauty having children. Further, both tales also involve an evil female figure in the family of the prince/king, who tries to eat or serve Sleeping Beauty’s children, and who also tries to kill Sleeping Beauty – only for the prince/king to return at the last moment to save her and cause the demise of the evil woman instead. However, in Sun, Moon, and Talia this evil woman is the king’s current wife, whereas in Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, she is his ogress mother. In addition to an evil woman, these tales also have a heroic cook who saves Sleeping Beauty’s children.

Further, Grimm’s tale shares some similarities with the Perrault version, as both stories involve a feast and a scorned fairy causing a curse that intends to kill Sleeping Beauty with a spindle – only for another fairy to reduce this curse to a mere hundred years’ sleep. Both of these stories also share the sleeping of the castle figures around Sleeping Beauty, as well as a wall around the castle – in Perrault it is a wall of trees, bushes, and brambles, but in Grimm it is a wall of thorns.

Perhaps the largest difference in any of the stories is the rape in Sun, Moon, and Talia, where the already-married king finds Talia unresponsive and “takes her to bed”. Even more alarming is his “friendship” with Talia when she wakes and has had children in her sleep. This all seems very sketchy to me. In this tale, Talia only wakes when her children dislodge the splinter in her finger, whereas in Perrault she awakens to her prince’s arrival, and in Grimm to his kiss.

Beyond that, smaller differences can be found scattered throughout the stories. In Sun, Moon, and Talia, the fatal splinter is of flax. In Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, the Ogress accepts her demise in a pit of vipers, whereas in Sun, Moon, and Talia the evil Queen is cast into a fire along with her accomplice (who does not appear in the other stories).  In Grimm, there is no evil figure in the prince’s family, which makes the ending rather gentler. Amusingly, Grimms’ Briar Rose also notes that Sleeping Beauty is dressed like the prince’s great-grandmother. This is also the only tale of the three in which Sleeping Beauty does not have children – instead, the tale ends with a wedding and a happily ever after.

Overall, it seems that Sleeping Beauty in the Wood is a middle ground – it has some similarities with Sun, Moon, and Talia, and some similarities with Briar Rose. In terms of evolution, I would speculate that its origins occurred between those of the other two.

Compare & Contrast: Little Snow White and Red as Blood

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.

Compare & Contrast: Hero’s Journey and Heroine’s Journey

Overall, the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey share many similarities; their differences lie mainly in their details. Perhaps the greatest difference between these story paths is the flexibility of the ordering of their steps. The hero’s journeys seem to stick more firmly to the ordering of their steps, whereas heroine’s journeys are more variable.

However, there is similarity in many of the steps that heroes and heroines take on their journeys. Both journeys start with the mundane: with the heroine it is her initial home, and with the hero it is his ordinary world. Both hero and heroine are forced to leave. Both find allies and are tested, and both are ultimately rewarded – the heroine with a true partner and a true home, and the hero with the object of his quest. The journeys are also similar in that both involve character development for the hero/heroine.

The journeys also seem to differ in their execution – though their steps appear to share many common elements, these elements are generally presented differently. Perhaps the best example of this is the destination of the quest itself. The heroine’s journey is initiated by the loss of a home and results in the finding of a new home – she is tied to the domestic, and the journey primarily benefits the heroine herself. On the other hand, the hero’s journey results in a great transformation. Perhaps he triumphs over evil or does a great service for his group. Regardless, his journey is beyond the scope of domestic life and is often on the behalf of others. Sometimes the hero even saves the whole world – his accomplishments are on a much larger scale than those of the heroine in her journey.