Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Real Life Glimpse Into Snow White's Revenge

From Camille Rose Garcia's Snow White
This post is NOT for everyone.
It discusses historical torture methods.
Skip this if you have a sensitive stomach.
At first she did not want to go to the wedding, but she found no peace. She had to go and see the young queen. When she arrived she recognized Snow-White, and terrorized, she could only stand there without moving.Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead. (Grimms Household Tales 1857)
Although I've yet to finish this (and am late in getting it done), I'm working on putting together a slideshow retelling of Snow White for one of the tech challenges in the fairy tale MOOC. Since I'm focusing on how the Queen and Snow White affect each other, I did a little digging into history to see if I could make a little more sense of the "red hot iron shoes" the Queen was forced to dance in at Snow's wedding.
Dance to death - Kelly Mccracken
✒ ✒ ✒  ✒ (click the "Read more" link below this line) ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ 

"Dancing to death" almost sounds romantic, doesn't it?
Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White

Well. (!) I found the likely... "device". O.o And though what I had pictured in my head before was pretty gruesome, what I discovered was worse. Far worse. (And if this is anyone's idea of romantic they need a check-up from the neck-up, stat!)

Behold the shoes that force you to dance until you die:
Inquisition "punishing shoes" (on display at St. Petersburg museum)
The shoes are on display at the St Petersburg Museum, included in a collection of torture instruments used by the Inquisition. Not only were the victim's feet forced into unforgiving metal shoes and shackled to them so they couldn't be removed, but the wearer was forced to stand and/or walk on their toes, like a ballet dancer, until they couldn't. At this point, they would fall back sharply to their heels and.. well, take a look at the shoe: there are three very nasty metal spikes, ready to stab right through the foot when that happens. *shudder*

(Oh, and if you'd like some alternative iron torture shoes you can find some HERE, HERE & HERE.)

Iron Shoes - Ray Caesar

Still, her jealousy drove her to go to the wedding and see the young queen. When she arrived she saw that it was Snow-White. Then they put a pair of iron shoes into the fire until they glowed, and she had to put them on and dance in them. Her feet were terribly burned, and she could not stop until she had danced herself to death. (Grimms Household Tales - 1812)  

But it gets worse. (What?!) Yes. It does. In Little Snow White, not only is the Queen forced to wear these "dancing shoes" but they've been heated in the coals until they're "red hot" and "glowing" before having them forcibly put on. 
An illustration from page 31 of Mjallhvít (Snow White)
an 1852 icelandic translation of the Grimm-version fairytale.
Note: While being in red hot iron shoes would make you "dance" as it was, the stand on your toes twist, shown above, definitely implies dancing to death, heated or not, so they're my "top picks". :/
by Ian Beck
That's a doubly hideous way to die. And the implication is that it was done to her in public. That is: Snow White and her Prince (and their guests) watched.

O. M. G.
Red-Hot Iron Shoes (ATCS) by coffeelatte
I've always leaned toward the idea that there's no way Snow White could retain her naiveté and innocence after going through all she did and that the Queens' death at her wedding was cruel, but I didn't envision just how cruel her revenge was until I saw these torture shoes. (My imagination stopped at the "burning to death via your feet, writhing on the floor in blisters and blood..." image. That seems almost tame in comparison now.) Clearly it wasn't simply punishment. Or justice. Or even "extra punishment" ending in justice. This was a death sentence via prolonged and deliberate torture.

Meet Snow White: the new ruler, the new judge, the new Queen.
Snow White by Molly Ostertag


  1. Very powerful image at the end. It reminds me of what we're heard so far about the second "Snow White and the Huntsman", i.e. she becomes the new villain. It certainly doesn't seem so far fetched now.

  2. Great article ...Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.Khass Khabre

  3. Sick.
    Poor queen. . .
    I dont think I like this Snow White 2 much. :(

  4. And then to say Snow White was just 14 years old when she married..

  5. Well maybe the step mother was the devil incarnate and was punished not only for what she did to snow white but what she did to the other children who did not get away from her ..

  6. jeez, what did I stumble into

  7. Barely getting started on the role reversal aspects. Try this one: https://thedreaming.moteofdust.com/1999/10/10/snow-glass-apples/