- “Magic Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Fairest One of All?”
- ―The Evil Queen
The Evil Queen (also known as the Wicked Queen or just the Queen) is the main antagonist of Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the first Disney animated features canon villain. Determined to remain the fairest one of all, the Queen becomes insanely jealous of Snow White, the only one whose beauty surpasses her own. She eventually uses dark magic in the form of an aging potion to disguise herself into an old woman, in a final attempt to do away with her only, unknowing rival. Depicted in early designs as a fat, comical character, her appearance eventually evolved into a much more sinister, stately beauty. She is generally one of Disney's most iconic and menacing first villains, once being voted the 10th greatest movie villain of all time by the American Film Institute. The Queen was animated by Art Babbitt and the Witch by Norman Ferguson.
Her name was given as Queen Grimhilde in some old publicity material and comics, but the Walt Disney Company did not acknowledge it as canon until the Sofia the First episode "In Cedric We Trust". She is sometimes referred to as the Wicked Queen, while theme parks sometimes refer to her as the Snow Queen (not to be confused with Queen Elsa). The Witch is sometimes referred to as the Old Hag after drinking the aging potion.
The Queen is, along with Maleficent, one of the most prominent of the Disney Villains.
The Queen does not appear to be significantly involved in governing her kingdom. Rather, she wants nothing more than to be the fairest in the land. She is cold, cruel, and has an extreme vanity that makes her utterly intolerant of rivals. Her vanity and jealousy of Snow White's superior beauty and the Prince's attentions eventually drove her to murderous insanity. That she transforms herself from a very attractive, regally and unbearably beautiful and insanely sexy young woman into a hideous old hag and conjures a poison named "The Sleeping Death" to achieve this end is a sign of her determination and desperation. As the Witch, her goal is the same, but she is far more excited as she comes closer to achieving her goal. However, in this new state she is slightly uncertain. She is no longer protected by her regal status and castle, she no longer has any servants or magic to defend her, and she is older and frailer. However, this uncertainty is outweighed by her resolve to kill Snow White. However, the book My Side of the Story: Snow White/The Queen reveals that the Queen actually was very kind to Snow White at first (she even has a portrait of her stepdaughter on one of the walls of the castle), but she gets too wound up in her jealousy which ultimately results in her untimely end. The book also reveals her, when not in her castle, owning a grocery store (as seen in the last page of the book) and that the Huntsman was a very good friend of hers. She also, according to her explanation, made Snow White a servant in her castle to ensure that her stepdaughter is not lazy (Aside this, The Queen also tell Snow White to do chores everyday because it's a "good exercise" - this is proven in one scene from the book where Snow White eats some cake, and then The Queen snatches it from her stepdaughter, then tell Snow White not to eat some sweets because she is "still in growth and needs to diet"). Also, according to The Queen, she never asks the Magic Mirror who is the fairest in the land. But the Magic Mirror keeps complimenting on how beautiful The Queen is (in her opinion). In the scene where Snow White first meets The Prince and flirts with him, The Queen watches them from her window, with a worried look on her face, worried about Snow White's safety with an older boy (whereas in the film, she watches them with anger and jealousy of Snow White's beauty).
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Discovering Snow White's Beauty
The Evil Queen, jealous of her stepdaughter Snow White's beauty, forces her to work as a servant in her castle; however, even in rags, Snow White's beauty shines through, causing to worry that Snow White's beauty may one day surpass her own. She has such vanity that she consults her Magic Mirror every day, ordering the slave within to reveal the name of the fairest in the land. Every day, the spirit says that the Queen is the fairest, and she is content, until the mirror informs her that Snow White has finally become the fairest in the land. Outside, as Snow White works, she sings to herself, attracting the attention of the Prince, who is passing by, and they are instantly infatuated with each other. The Evil Queen watches from her window, unseen by the two lovers, and, jealous both of Snow White's beauty and the Prince's affections, closes the curtains furiously.
The Huntsman's OrdersSummoning her faithful huntsman to her, the Queen orders him to take Snow White far into a secluded area of the forest, where she can pick wild flowers then kill her. She presents him with a box, in which Snow White's heart must be brought as proof. The Huntsman protests to carry out such a deed, knowing the penalty for failure, takes Snow White deep into the forest. Just as he is about to stab the princess, he finds that he cannot bring himself to destroy such beauty and innocence and frantically warning Snow White of the Queen's vanity and jealousy, tells her to flee into the forest. He returns to the Queen, bringing in the box the heart of a pig instead. Meanwhile, some forest animals Snow White find the Cottage of the Seven Dwarfs, and is found by the dwarfs, whom she tells of the Evil Queen's attempts to kill her. They are fearful of her dark magic of, not least because, Grumpy, not keen on having a woman around the house, refers to her as an "old' witch" and suggests that she may have discovered them already, have made herself invisible, and be watching them right now. They nevertheless take pity and agree to take her in (though Grumpy is reluctant to do so, fearing her power, as well as being a self-proclaimed woman-hater).
Taking ActionThat night, Grimhilde once again consults the Magic Mirror, who tells her that Snow White is living in the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs and that the Huntsman has brought her a pig's heart after believing that Snow White is dead in the forest. Furious after discovering that she's been tricked, she descends a spiral staircase, entering a dark chamber filled with arcane and magical artifacts, as well as her Raven perched on a skull. She decides to go to the cottage herself, disguised as a peddler woman. Consulting a book on disguises to make a formula that will allow her to transform her beauty into ugliness, she mixes the required potion ingredients and drinks it, and is immediately transformed from a youthfully beautiful queen into a hideous old hag, including her hair turning white, her skin and hands becoming wrinkled, her royal attire becoming a peddler's cloak and her voice is changed as well and she declares that it is a perfect disguise. She then disposes of Snow White with a Poisoned Apple, which will send its victim into the Sleeping Death.
DefeatShe reaches the cottage and, according to plan, finds that the Dwarfs have left and Snow White is alone. Catching the girl by surprise, the Queen poses herself as an apple giver and offers her the apple, but is attacked by the animals of the forest (who sense danger when they notice the two vultures). Snow White does not recognize any danger in the old woman and lets her into the house to offer her a drink of water as she pretends that she is about to pass out, while the animals rush to find the Dwarfs. The Queen tricks Snow White by telling her that the apple will grant wishes, and, knowing of Snow White's romance with the Prince, persuades her to wish for a happy reunion before taking a bite. Snow White, fooled, makes her wish and takes a bite, but falls to the floor, taken by the Sleeping Death, and the Queen cackles in victory, proclaiming that now she'll be the fairest in the land, as a storm starts outside. Before she can return to the castle, the dwarfs, who discover that the Queen has killed Snow White, arrive in time to see the vain villainess leave and, led by Grumpy, chase her up to the top of a rocky cliff. She begins prying an enormous boulder loose, attempting to send it down on top of them, but a bolt of lightning strikes the ledge where the Queen stands. The ledge crumbles away, causing her to fall off the mountaintop and into the blackness far below, with the boulder tumbling after her. The dwarves watch as the vultures fly down to her crushed body at the bottom of the chasm.
After the comic adaptation of Snow White, the Queen, in her hag form, returned as a recurring antagonist to the Seven Dwarfs, and later many other Disney protagonists, occasionally teaming up with fellow Disney villains like Pete and Captain Hook. One story in the 1985s provided an explanation for her return, and why she couldn't change back to her normal form. In two 1940s stories, it was also revealed that she had a deceitful twin brother.
Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
The novel, written by Serena Valentino, shows what caused the Queen to become the monster that she is in the film. It was revealed that her father, a maker of mirrors, never told her she was beautiful thus making her insecure of her appearance. When her father died she married the King whom she met at the well by her father's house. She grows to love Snow White as if she where her own daughter. But when the King's three witch-like cousins come for a visit they give her the Magic Mirror of which the spirit was that of her dead father. It would serve as a corrupting influence on her throughout the novel. After her husband's death, the Queen slowly descends into madness. By the end of novel, Snow White gets the mirror and the Queen becomes the spirit inside the mirror after her death in the film.
Kingdom Hearts Series
The Queen appears as an antagonist in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, in her home world of Dwarf Woodlands, taking on both her Queen and hag forms. The Queen's first appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series was actually in Kingdom Hearts, a picture of her hag form appearing on Snow White's stain-glass podium in the Dive to the Heart. In Terra's scenario, the Queen has just learned form the Magic Mirror that Snow White is now fairer than her in beauty. However, the mirror continued to say Snow White's heart is pure light. It is then the Queen notices that Terra has been listening in from the shadows and is asked is she has met Master Xehanort. Truthfully answering that she does not, the Queen sends Terra away. However, she then calls him back with an offer: kill Snow White and bring her heart back as proof of the kill in exchange for asking the Magic Mirror where Master Xehanort is. However, Terra didn't plan on doing so and returns soon after the Unversed chase Snow White into the forest. The Queen voices her rage at Terra for his failure. However, Terra points out he never intended to do so and that thick shadows of jealousy/vanity hang on her heart, clouding any radiance from actually shining. The Queen is now at wits end and tells the Magic Mirror to suck Terra into its realm and deal with him. However, the mirror refuses the Queen's order as it lacked any power except answering answers with the truth (and rhyme). Snapping, the Queen (in the Japanese version) glows red and uses her darkness to force the mirror to obey her or (in the English version) tosses a green potion at it that transforms it into an Unversed. The Magic Mirror is now obedient to her command and sucks Terra inside. However, it soon releases him and the Queen is forced to ask the mirror the location of the elderly Keyblade Master. Upon being thanked by Terra, who then leaves, the Queen then begins to scheme up new ideas on how to kill Snow White. In Ventus's scenario, she appears under the disguise of an old hag and prepares to carry the poisoned apple to Snow White, but drops it on her way. Ventus, unaware of her motives, politely gives the apple back. Upon seeing Ventus's Keyblade, the Queen remembers her encounter with Terra and twists the truth to make it look like Terra had threatened an old lady with his Keyblade just to learn if she knew any information about Master Xehanort. Though she succeeded in troubling Ventus, the Queen truthfully tells him she has no clue where he is now and departs for the forest, leaving Ven with a tale of half truth... Some time between Ventus and Aqua's scenarios, the Queen succeeds in having Snow White eat the poisoned apple. She is then only briefly mentioned in Aqua's storyline by the Seven Dwarfs, who tell Aqua they chased away the Queen following her foul deeds. The Magic Mirror later tells Aqua that the Queen is dead and he is no longer under her control.
Imprisoning the Prince
It was originally planned that, jealous of the Prince's affections for Snow White, the Queen would have him brought to her, and she would have him locked in her dungeon. As the Witch, she would have made the skeletons in the dungeon (one of whom would have been identified as 'Prince Oswald') rise up and dance. She would have left the Prince in the dungeon, and he was to escape in the manner of Errol Flynn, enabling him to reach Snow White and break the spell.The idea was abandoned when it was realized how difficult it was to animate the Prince convincingly, and the character only appeared when he needed to further the story, which centered primarily around the relationship between Snow White and the Queen. However, comics released to promote the film include such scenes; the Witch locks up the Prince and tells him of her plans for Snow White, telling him that she will win his affections, while the Prince is defiant. Later, as the animators became more experienced at animating human characters, a similar concept was used in Sleeping Beauty, in which Maleficent has Prince Phillip captured and taken to the Forbidden Mountains, where she shows him visions of the future she has planned for him.
A very short sequence involving the Witch stirring in her cauldron was fully animated and completed, and was among the scenes cut from the film by Walt Disney at the last minute. In the sequence, the Raven looks on as the Witch stirs the cauldron with a huge bone. She pauses to see that the smoke rising from the brew is shaped like skulls, and adds a drop of an unknown ingredient to the concoction. At this, smoke from the cauldron fills the room. This sequence would have occurred immediately after the scene of the Seven Dwarfs going to sleep in their cottage; the sequence would have been followed by the scene in which the hag dips the apple into the brew to make it poisonous.
- Neither the movie cannon, concept art, original scripts or any of the film's park adaptations have ever given the queen a name however in the spin-off 1980s comics the character is referred to as Queen Grimhilde.
- Interestingly, the Queen in the House of Mouse series is shown to be able to magically change into an old hag but in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, she has to use potions.