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Snow White And The Seven Deadly Sins: A Literary Analysis Of R.S Gwynn's Work

In the poem, “Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins” (reprinted in Thomas R. Arp, Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 7th ed. [Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1998] 854), author R.S. Gwynn presents the reader with an account of a woman’s struggle to keep faithful to each her husband and to God. The poem openly alludes to the fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Nevertheless, the Snow White in this poem is living something but a fairy tale existence. The 1st two stanzas of the poem talk about the woman’s initial reactions to her relationship with her husband. The lady started the marriage with faith, and she hardly ever questioned her husband’s sinful nature, acting like the “Good Catholic girl” that she was brought up to be. However, as time passes and her husband’s abuse becomes more frequent and more destructive, doubts and confusion emerge in her mind and she starts to lose a small faith and hope. The lady confesses her worries to a priest who, rather of directing her to a place exactly where she could get support, directs her to “texts in Romans / And Peter’s Very first Epistle, chapter III”. These are Biblical writings that preach that a woman need to remain subordinate to her husband as a servant to his master, and that suffering for sake of goodness is far better than doing evil. This causes the lady to push her doubts aside, and her duty to her husband prevails. The sins of the woman’s husband started off as somewhat little, nonetheless as years pass, his sins become far more aligned with the Seven Deadly Sins and the lady uncover herself straight involved in his sins. The sin of Pride is the 1st sin talked about in the poem. The woman’s husband is incredibly vain and because of his vanity she should hold herself beautified. This is apparent simply because of the “smeared prints of lips” upon the mirror. Gwynn’s use of the word “ogled” personifies the mirror, implying that it is taunting the woman, forcing her to gaze upon the sins of herself and her husband. The superficiality of the man is additional evident in his feelings of Envy. He tells his wife to sew a designer label into a generic shirt, just for sake of look and image. The man engages in activities of Lust, and forces his wife to be a component of his warped sexual fantasies. She does not protest, simply because after once more, she feels obligated to fulfill her duties as a wife. In addition, the man is guilty of Gluttony, Avarice, and Sloth, sins apparent due to the empty alcohol bottles, cards, and chips on the table, and the dirty clothing in the bathroom. Surrounded by the remnants of her husband’s sins which have turn out to be her own as properly, the lady reflects upon every of them, and becomes far more and much more desperate as she realizes the gravity of what she has been enduring for so extended. There is no salvation from these sins, and woman has fully lost hope. In the sixth and seventh stanzas, however, she finally realizes the need to have for correct salvation. The inclusion of the lines “She knelt to the cold master bathroom floor as / If a petitioner before the Pope” completely exemplifies the woman’s rising want of redemption. As she wipes the mirror clean, the woman notices how haggard and aged her marriage has produced her appear. This observation causes her to genuinely recognize that she should not have to tolerate the Wrath of her husband, and that she truly needs to be saved: “”How much she’d grayed and paled, and how significantly clearer / Festered the bruise of Wrath beneath her eye.”

The woman goes on to parallel herself to Snow White, alluding to the way in which the princess was poisoned by an apple which was supposed to have killed her. The woman thinks that there is seemingly no hope in her predicament her marriage is killing her gradually. She proceeds to make X’s upon the mirror with her thumb, as although attempting to erase the horrid image that is ahead of her, and consequently, herself. At this point, the magic mirror of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would hardly contact the lady of this poem ‘the fairest of them all.’ The allusions to the fairy tale continue when her husband returns property: “Ho-hum. Ho-hum. It is property from perform we come.” The man is introduced into the ninth stanza as a “Handsome Prince,” making a grand entrance to save the damsel in distress. The lines “Who, spying her distressed beckoned / For her to mount (What else?) his snow-white horse” naturally indicate that the man feels he can remove her agony with sex. For a moment, the lady hesitates, nearly falling back into the ‘safety’ of the man whom she has been in search of refuge with for so long. Nonetheless, she realizes that her husband is a false savior, and she flees to a convent to discover her correct salvation in faith.The central theme in this poem is stated in line 4 of the initial stanza: “One’s duty was one’s refuge, following all.” Throughout the poem, the woman struggles to fulfill all her ‘duties, whether or not those duties be as a wife or as a servant of the Lord. Her conflict arises when she can not reconcile the two. The lady requires refuge as the excellent wife to the poor husband, but she only achieve her correct refuge or salvation when she is a bride, not in the standard sense, but to the Lord, as a nun.
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