Magic Mirror (Snow White)

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The Evil Queen in front of the Magic Mirror in a 1916 illustration

The Magic Mirror is an mystical object that is featured in the story of Snow White.

Fairy tale[edit]

The Magic Mirror is owned by the Evil Queen and has been depicted in different versions as either a hand mirror or a mirror on the wall. Every morning, the Evil Queen asked the Magic Mirror the question "Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?". The mirror always replies: "My Queen, you are the fairest in the land." The Queen is always pleased with that, because the magic mirror never lies. But, when Snow White reaches the age of seven, she becomes as beautiful as the day and even more beautiful than the Queen and when the Queen asks her mirror, it responds: "My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you." This resulted in the Evil Queen enlisting a huntsman to kill Snow White and bring her Snow White's lungs and liver. After eating the lungs and liver of a boar that the Huntsman passed off as Snow White's lungs and liver, the Evil Queen asked the Magic Mirror the question "Magic Mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?" The mirror replies: "My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White beyond the mountains at the seven Dwarfs is a thousand times more beautiful than you." This caused the Evil Queen to disguise herself as different women to kill Snow White. After the latest attempt with a poison apple which was undone by the Prince and Snow White marrying him, the Evil Queen asked the Magic Mirror who the fairest in the land was, the Magic Mirror quoted "You, my Queen, are fair so true. But the young Queen is a thousand times fairer than you." The Evil Queen learned too late at the wedding that the young queen in question was Snow White which eventually leads to the Queen's death which varied per version.

Real-life influences[edit]

The “Talking Mirror” at the Spessart Museum in Lohr am Main

German scholar Karlheinz Bartels suggests that the German folk tale "Snow White" is influenced by Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von Erthal, who was born in Lohr am Main in 1725.[1] After the death of Maria Sophia's birth mother in 1741, her father Philipp Christoph remarried. Claudia Elisabeth von Reichenstein, the stepmother, was domineering and greatly favored the children from her first marriage.[2] The Queen's iconic mirror, referred to as “The Talking Mirror,” can still be viewed today at Spessart Museum in the Lohr Castle, where Maria Sophia was born. The mirror was likely a gift from Philipp Christoph to Claudia Elisabeth. It was a product of the Lohr Mirror Manufacture (Kurmainzische Spiegelmanufaktur). The mirror “talked” predominantly in aphorisms. The upper right corner of “The Talking Mirror” contains a clear reference to self-love (Amour Propre). Moreover, mirrors from Lohr were so elaborately worked that they were accorded the reputation of “always speaking the truth”. They became a favorite gift at European crown and aristocratic courts.[3]

Modern adaptations[edit]

Disney[edit]

The Magic Mirror appeared in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs voiced by Moroni Olsen. The Magic Mirror contained an imprisoned spirit who is referred to as the Slave in the Magic Mirror. In his first appearance in the film, the Evil Queen would consult with the Magic Mirror who the fairest of them all was. The Magic Mirror always told the Evil Queen that she was the fairest of them all. When asked who the fairest of all is, the spirit replies that, while the Queen is beautiful, a fairer being exists. When the Queen angrily asks for the girl's name, the spirit describes her, making it obvious to the Queen that Snow White is the one being referred to. The Queen then orders her Huntsman to kill Snow White and bring her back her heart. When the Evil Queen asks the Magic Mirror who the fairest of them all was later that evening, the Magic Mirror told her that Snow White was the fairest of them all. Though the Queen at first believes the spirit to be incorrect, she is told that she holds the heart of a pig, and that Snow White still lives in the Cottage of the Seven Dwarfs.

The Magic Mirror appeared in Disney's House of Mouse voiced by Tony Jay. It was seen in the lobby of the club. The Magic Mirror would always answer questions given to him by the guests or give advice to the staff members. The Magic Mirror also appeared in Fantasmic! voiced again by Tony Jay.

The Magic Mirror appears in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep voiced by Corey Burton. The Magic Mirror first appears in Terra's storyline. As per the movie, it told the Queen that Snow White was now much fairer than the vain ruler. However, it added on that her heart was a pure light than shone bright. It was then promised by the Evil Queen usage by Terra to find Master Xehanort if he brought her Snow White's heart. However, he did not do so and told the Evil Queen he never intended to. Terra then proceeds to tell her that unlike Snow White, she has much darkness in her heart. The Evil Queen, insulted and outraged, commanded the mirror to destroy Terra. The Magic Mirror refused saying it can only answer questions. The Queen's increasing rage then caused the mirror to have a potion slammed on its face sucking Terra in and fighting him. However, he is defeated and releases Terra. The Evil Queen reluctantly has the Magic Mirror tell Terra where he can find Master Xehanort. The Magic Mirror later appears in Aqua's storyline. When Aqua looks for a cure for Snow White in the castle, the still-possessed Magic Mirror drags her into the mirror for a fight, but she also manages to defeat him and is released. The Magic Mirror then disappears stating that since the Queen is dead, his purpose has been fulfilled, and commends Aqua on her victory.

A different version of the Magic Mirror appeared in The 7D voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.

Faerie Tale Theatre[edit]

The mirror in Faerie Tale Theatre was played by Vincent Price, whose face appeared as if mounted on the top of the mirror (in reality, Price stuck his face through a hole). This mirror, as did all of the Queen's (Vanessa Redgrave) other mirrors, turned black as she found out that Snow White was alive.

Snow White (1987)[edit]

Happily Ever After[edit]

The Magic Mirror appeared as the Looking Glass in Happily Ever After voiced by Dom DeLuise. When Lord Maliss tells him where his sister the Evil Queen is and threatens it for information, the Looking Glass tells him that she died trying to kill Snow White. After Snow White evaded Lord Maliss' dragon form, Lord Maliss consults the Looking Glass again as the Looking Glass tells him that Snow White and the Dwarfelles are heading to Rainbow Falls. When Snow White ventures to Lord Maliss' castle, the Looking Glass tells him that it will be tough for Snow White to find his castle. When the Dwarfelles enter Lord Maliss' castle and wonder where Lord Maliss has taken Snow White, the Looking Glass states that "beneath the Queen lies a secret door." After searching the area, they find a panel to the hidden door underneath the Queen's bust.

Princesses[edit]

In Jim C. Hines' Princesses series- chronicling the adventures of Snow White with Princess Danielle Whiteshore (Cinderella) and former Princess Talia Malak-el-Dahshat (Sleeping Beauty) after their tales concluded with Snow and Talia being banished from their kingdoms and taken in by Danielle's mother-in-law- Snow White is a sorceress who uses her mother's mirror as a key focus of her spells, relying on various smaller mirrors to maintain a link to it when away from the palace; her power is commonly focused by using various rhymes as spells, although she can create other spells without speaking. The fourth novel, The Snow Queen's Revenge, reveals that the magic mirror was created by Snow White's mother imprisoning a demon and binding it to her service, suggesting that the mirror's role in the original story was motivated by the demon attempting to create a set of circumstances that would allow it to escape. The protagonists return to Snow White's kingdom to rediscover the secrets used by Snow White's mother to bind the demon in hopes of exorcising it after it possesses Snow White when the mirror shatters after she tries to perform a particularly complex spell. The demon attempts to recreate a larger ice-mirror to summon further demons into this world, using the part-fairy blood of Danielle's son Jakub- Danielle having some fairy blood in her from her mother's side of the family- but a reflection of Snow's untainted self helps to protect her friends long enough to destroy the demon.

Sesame Street[edit]

The Magic Mirror appeared in Episode 685 of Sesame Street with the Magic Mirror's face being the face of Jerry Nelson. In the "Sesame Street News Flash" segment, Kermit the Frog interviews the Magic Mirror on which question the evil witch will ask him and tells Kermit that it's the same question where the Snow White answer "drives her up the wall." The witch who is the fairest in the land, has two beautiful eyes, is green, wearing a hat, wielding a microphone, and is in the same room as the Magic Mirror. The Magic Mirror states that Kermit the Frog is the fairest. The witch then notices Kermit the Frog hiding behind the curtain and states that he is good-looking.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror[edit]

In Snow White: A Tale of Terror, this version has the mirror a property of Lady Claudia (Sigourney Weaver). It is a wooden closet with a statue as the door and hands acting as locks. It is regarded as a family heritage artifact by her. Snow White's nanny, tries to see what's inside while cleaning it and immediately suffers a heart attack. The mirror displays a beautiful and younger version of the Queen who advices her what to do. The mirror also contains her life force and she ages rapidly when Snow White stabs the mirror and then engulfs in flame of the burning room.

Shrek[edit]

The Magic Mirror appears in the Shrek franchise voiced by Chris Miller. It is depicted as a mirror with a live spirit communicating through it, and with magical displaying abilities.

  • In Shrek, the Magic Mirror is first brought to Lord Farquaad who asks it if Duloc is not the most perfect kingdom, exactly the same way the Evil Queen used to ask it if she was not the fairest of all. The magic mirror then presents Lord Farquaad with three princesses that he can marry (from which he chooses Fiona). This is done in a parody of Blind Date.
  • It is later seen to be with Shrek's posse who in Shrek 2 use it as a television set such as announcing that the show will be back after commercials.

Snow White: The Fairest of Them All[edit]

Once Upon a Time[edit]

In Once Upon a Time, the Magic Mirror started out as a Genie (played by Giancarlo Esposito) where he and his lamp were discovered by King Leopold. The King feels he no need to wish for anything and uses the first and second wishes to free the Genie from the lamp and to give the third wish to the Genie. The Genie expresses the desire to find true love, so the King takes the Genie to his castle as he believes the Genie can find true love there. He falls in love with the King's wife Queen Regina and gives her a hand mirror. The King reads in the Queen's diary that she has fallen in love with the man who gave her the hand mirror and asks the Genie to locate him. The Queen is then locked in her room to prevent her from leaving the King. To free her, her father has the Genie bring her a locked box, which turns out to be filled with poisonous vipers from Agrabah so the Queen can kill herself. Instead, the Genie uses the vipers to kill the King and allow the Queen to be with him. She tells him that since the vipers were from his country, the guards will find out that he was the murderer and flee. Realizing the Queen never loved him, he uses his wish to be always with her and to never leave her sight. This traps him in the hand mirror. As a spirit in the Magic Mirror, he is able to move between and see through all other mirrors in the Enchanted Forest. He is used by Regina to spy on and locate others.

In Storybrooke, he is Sidney Glass, a reporter for Storybrooke's local newspaper The Daily Mirror. On Regina's request, he researches Emma's past to help Regina expel her from Storybrooke. After Graham's death, Regina attempts to appoint him sheriff, but the wording of the town charter calls for an election. He loses the position to Emma Swan. Regina has him removed from the newspaper staff, and Sidney goes to Emma, claiming that he wants to expose Regina as the corrupt person she is. However, the exposé reveals Regina's attempts to improve the community. Despite this, Sidney tells Emma that he will help her take down Regina, but it is revealed that he is secretly in league with Regina, who is using Emma's trust in Sidney to gain leverage over Emma. Emma later learns that he planted a bug in a vase glass after it is used to tip off Regina upon discovering a key piece of evidence that would have cleared Mary Margaret of Kathryn Nolan's murder. Emma confronts Sidney and realizes that he is in love with Regina. Still, Emma presses him to help defeat Regina. However, after Kathryn is found alive, Sidney falsely confesses to kidnapping Kathryn and framing Mary Margaret so that he could "find" Kathryn and become famous. Later, a cell labeled "S. Glass" is seen in the hospital basement's psychiatric ward. The name "S. Glass" is visible on a door in the first season finale, suggesting that Regina had locked him in the asylum after he confessed to the kidnapping. Despite the curse being lifted, Sidney has yet to reemerge in Storybrooke.

Mirror Mirror[edit]

In the film Mirror Mirror, elements of the Magic Mirror are featured as a large mirror that serves as a portal to the Mirror House where Queen Clementianna consults with the Mirror Queen (played by Lisa Robert Gillan) who would always advise Queen Clementianna not to use dark magic for her own gain. After the aged Queen Clementianna takes the slice of an apple she was to give to Snow White from her, the Mirror Queen declared that it was Snow White's story and the Mirror House and the Mirror Portal shattered.

Snow White and the Huntsman[edit]

In Snow White and the Huntsman, the Magic Mirror appears as a golden gong-like mirror that oozes out a hooded robed being (voiced by Christopher Oba) whenever Queen Ravenna called upon it for information. The Magic Mirror first appeared where he told Queen Ravenna that Snow White was coming to the age where she will be more fairer than Queen Ravenna.

The Hunters[edit]

In the 2013 SyFy film The Hunters, it is revealed that the Magic Mirror was inspired by a fabled mirror that is said to grant the wish of whoever looks into it; supposedly, the mirror triggered the Dark Ages. The mirror was sought by an ancient army known as the Krugen before the hunters- a group of scientist knights dedicated to protecting fairy-tale artefacts- acquired the mirror, breaking off four shards from the mirror and hiding them and the mirror away when destroying it completely proved impossible. The film focuses on a family of hunters, the Flynns, with the parents being experienced hunters seeking the shards to keep them away from the Krugen and their sons being forced to take up the hunt when their parents go missing. The mirror is eventually reassembled by the film's antagonist, but he is tricked into making a wish that caused the mirror to destroy him, with the protagonists subsequently wishing for the mirror to destroy itself.

The Wolf Among Us[edit]

Appearing as a magical object in the Business Office, the Magic Mirror is a minor protagonist in The Wolf Among Us. Usually demanding it's request be given to it in rhyme form, the magic mirror is capable of showing a brief vision of its requested subject. The mirror's shattering and the search for it's missing shard play key aspects following the end of the second episode.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karlheinz Bartels: Schneewittchen – Zur Fabulologie des Spessarts. Second Edition, Lohr 2012, publisher: Geschichts- und Museumsverein Lohr a. Main, the local historical society, ISBN 978-3-934128-40-8; cf. an academic review by Theodor Ruf: Die Schöne aus dem Glassarg. Schneewittchens märchenhaftes und wirkliches Leben. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 1994, p. 12ff, 49ff; ISBN 3-88479-967-3.
  2. ^ Werner Loibl, Schneewittchens herrische Stiefmutter (The domineering stepmother of Snow White), Lohrer Echo, 28.08.1992 with further references.
  3. ^ Werner Loibl, Die kurmainzische Spiegelmanufaktur Lohr am Main in der Zeit Kurfürst Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1698-1729), p.277f, in the catalogue: Glück und Glas, Zur Kulturgeschichte des Spessarts, Munich, 1984; Loibl is the foremost expert in the history of 17th and 18th-century glasshouses in Germany, according to Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk, formerly Curator of European Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), since 2008 Director of the Hentrich Museum of Glass (Düsseldorf, Germany). Cf. now the history of the 17th- and 18th-century glasshouses in Lohr and in the Spessart written by Werner Loibl: Die kurmainzische Spiegelmanufaktur Lohr am Main (1698 - 1806) und die Nachfolgebetriebe im Spessart, 3 volumes, Aschaffenburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-87965-118-4.