Snow-White and Rose-Red

Snow-White and Rose-Red

"Snow-White and Rose-Red" (German: "Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot") is a German fairy tale. The best-known version is the one collected by the Brothers Grimm as tale number 161. [Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, "Grimm's Fairy Tales", " [ Snow White and Rose Red] "] It is Aarne-Thompson type 426, the two girls, the bear, and the dwarf.

An older, somewhat shorter version, "The Ungrateful Dwarf", was written by Caroline Stahl; this in fact appears to be the oldest variant of the tale, as there are no known previous oral versions, although several have been collected since its publication. [Jack Zipes, "The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm", p 772, ISBN 0-393-97636-X] The oral variants of this tale are very limited in area. [Stith Thompson, "The Folktale", p 100, University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London, 1977]

It is not to be confused with the Grimm fairy tale "Snow White" (which is written "Schneewittchen" in German, rather than "Schneeweißchen") that provided the basis for the Walt Disney film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"; this is a completely different character, and she has nothing in common with the other one, other than sharing her name.


"Snow-White and Rose-Red" tells the story of Snow White and Rose Red, two girls living with their mother, a poor widow, in a small cottage. Both sisters are very good little girls, and they love each other dearly. Their mother is very fond of them.

One winter night, there is a knock at the door. Rose Red opens the door to find a bear. At first she is terrified, but the bear tells her not to be afraid. "I'm half frozen and I merely want to warm up a little at your place," he says. They let the bear in and it lies down in front of the fire. Snow White and Rose Red beat the snow off the bear, and quickly become quite friendly with it. They play with the bear and roll him around until the bear warns them, "Leave me my life, you children, Snow-white and Rose-red, Or you'll never wed."

They let the bear spend the night in front of the fire, and in the morning, he leaves, trotting out into the woods. The bear comes back every night for the rest of that winter and the family grows used to him. When summer comes, the bear tells them that he must go away for a while to guard his treasure from a wicked dwarf. During the summer the girls are walking through the forest, when they find a dwarf who has his beard stuck in a tree. The girls rescue him by cutting his beard free, but the dwarf is ungrateful, and yells at the girls for cutting his beautiful beard. The girls encounter the dwarf several times that summer, rescue him from some peril, and each time the dwarf is ungrateful.

Then one day they meet the dwarf once again; this time he is terrified because the bear is about to kill him. The dwarf pleads with the bear, begs it to eat the girls instead of him, but the bear pays no heed and kills the dwarf with one swipe of his paw. Then the bear turns into a prince; the dwarf had bewitched the prince by stealing his gold and turning him into a bear, but the curse is broken with the death of the dwarf. Snow White marries the prince and Rose Red marries his brother.

tahl's version

In "The Ungrateful Dwarf", the bear has no encounters with the girls except that in which it eats the dwarf; it is not an enchanted prince. The girls take the treasure that the dead dwarf was carrying and make themselves rich.

Other versions

Patricia Wrede retold the tale in a book of the same title, setting the story in Elizabethan England, making the bear-prince the son of the Queen of Faerie by Thomas the Rhymer, and introducing Dr. John Dee and a historical colleague of his to fill the villainous role played by the dwarf in the original tale.

Nippon Animation Co., Ltd. adapted "Snow White and Rose Red" for one episode in its 1987 anime TV series "Grimm Meisaku Gekijou", released in English as "Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics".

1991 the Balver Märchenwochen started with a adaptation of this fairy tale.

Snow-White and Rose-Red also appear in the "Fables" graphic novels published by Vertigo, in which the Snow-White of this tale and the Snow-White of the more famous tale are combined into a single character.

Francesca Lia Block wove a portion of the story "Snow White and Rose Red" in her novel The Hanged Man. In Chapter VIII Laurel and Claudia call themselves "Rose White" and "Rose Red", because Laurel has white-blond hair and Claudia has dark red hair. They discuss the fairytale, and Claudia asks about which one of the sisters gets the bear prince. Laurel answers "Maybe no one. Maybe they got each other." Later, Jack, who is supposed to represent the bear, says "I think the point was for them to blend together, for Rose White to get a little wilder, and for Rose Red to cool down."

Rebekka Kricheldorf wrote a play adaptation in 2006 entitled "Rosa und Blanca", commissioned by Staatstheater Kassel. [ [ Staatstheater Kassel | Inszenierungen | Rosa und Blanca (Uraufführung) ] ]

A novel named [ The Shadow of the Bear] was written by Regina Doman and published in 2002. She self-published an updated version in 2007. Doman's version is set in New York City. Bear is the name of a mysterious young man apparently living on the streets who befriends two sisters with very different personalities: free-spirited and daring Rose and timid, thoughtful Blanche. Bear and his brother Fish have a secret mission connected with the unsolved murder of a Catholic priest.


*Grimm, Jacob and William, edited and translated by Stanley Appelbaum, "Selected Folktales/Ausgewählte Märchen : A Dual-Language Book" Dover Publications Inc. Mineola, New York. ISBN 0-486-42474-X

External links

* [ The Annotated Snow White and Rose Red featuring illustrations, variants, and more]
* [ Snow white and Rose Red"] story text at
* [ Full text to Snow-White And Rose-Red from "The Fairy Book"]

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