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Diana Ciuca

Per. 3 AP LIT

Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins


Author R.S. Gwynn appropriated a popular story turned movie, Snow White and the

Seven Dwarfs to create a poem about a woman plagued with the sins of daily life. The

protagonist, simply referred to as a "good Catholic girl" (line 1), is antagonized by "the Seven"

(line 9) which refers to the Seven Deadly Sins. Each lay waste to her life in various ways, which

culminates at her final escape. The poem parallels certain events portrayed in Disney's fairy-tale.

In, Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins, Gwynn utilizes diction, personification through

imagery, and allusions to depict how society and its sin inevitably affect those who, despite their

best efforts, try to live in virtue.

Through delicately chosen words, Gwynn connotes the hidden meaning that main

character is haunted by the seven sins. Her work (which stands for one of the Seven Virtues,

temperance and humility) was her refuge (line 4). This shows her devotion and regression to

work in times of desperation. The author mocks her troubles in the second stanza. The stanza

begins with a conditional “if…, (then)…” statement as if it was only a precaution. The answer to

her worries was simple, since the protagonist was “instantly referred” (line 7) to Biblical text. In

stanza 3, the author underlines the accumulation of sin through line 9: “…more sinful every

day.” As these sins have their fun (don their horns, mingle), she grays and pales (line 27) to

depict how these sins have impacted her. Finally, the author’s sarcastic tone arises in the final

two stanzas. Gwynn’s choice of “of course” and “what else?” confirms the theme that these sins

are unenviable. Through diction and casual language, the author highlights the effects of the

seven deadly sins.


Furthermore, the sins’ names are capitalized as they are given certain actions which

accentuate their corruption. The Seven, all “grab[bed] their pitchforks, don[ned] their horns and

sped to contravene the hopes of heaven” (lines 10-11). This line details the devastation about to

occur and stresses the fact that these sins act vividly in the life of the main character. Other dirty

deeds commited by these sins are emphasized through imagery. Pride has smeared prints of lips

on the mirror (line14) while Lust lays magazines around the room Other disaster is caused by

Gluttony (line 17), Avarice (18), and Sloth (23) making messes on tables and leaving socks on

the floors, respectively. Imagery caused by her kneeling or the car door slamming are references

that the main character goes through agony yet leads an average, simple life. Her character is

supposed to cause the reader to assimilate and find themselves in the same position, affected by

the sins of life in similar ways.

Gwynn's most powerfully interweaved allusions throughout his poem. The Catholic Church's

ancient Seven Deadly Sins are the most prominent allusions mentioned. Pride (line 13) refers to

the excessive love of one's self. Lust (line 15) and it's devices allude to excessive sexual thoughts

or desires. In line 17, Gluttony stands for over-consumption and over-indulgence, hence the

waste which "covered half the table." Greed, another deadly sin, is stated in the poem as Avarice

(line 18), which is the sin of excess material goods. This contrasts the next deadly sin, Envy (line

20), which deals more with emotions; it is the sin of perceiving oneself as lacking, especially in

comparison to others. Sloth (line 23) is seen as the sin of laziness or lack of caring, especially

since it (Sloth) leaves a mess. Finally, the last sin, Wrath (line 28) is anger shown in the poem as

a bruise "beneath her eye." The punishment for these sins was hell, which is pertinent to the

authors purpose since the main character practically lives in her own hell - that is, until she

leaves. Other notable allusions (Bille Blass Label, Gyp's) emphasize the universality of her poem

and how it is meant to be applied further than the fairy tale (of Snow White). To further relate the
Catholic factor in the poem, Gwynn alludes to "Peter's First Epistle, Chapter III" (line 8) which

speaks of the theme introduced at the beginning of the poem: enduring pain for ultimate good.

Finally, Gywnn had a encompassing understanding of the fairytale story. He

made many references to this perfect tale by quoting the dwarfs and their song

“Ho-hum, ho-hum…” (line 32) and stating that the man is a “Handsome Prince” (line

34). Moreover, there are other indications to the Snow White fairy-tale as in the

mirror on the wall (wall of looking glass – line 13) or snow-white horse (line 36).

Nonetheless, the poem implicates that anyone can be the distressed snow white,

taunted by seven sins (not dwarfs). Through diction, personification by imagery, and

allusions, brings out the theme that one cannot avoid the sins which follow them

through life. The author ends the poem starkly, with the main character escaping

instantaneously to become a nun. The extreme opposite of an average life is

obviously that of a pious, devoted life. However, even through purging, we may not

fully escape the sins which boil within us. Pride, for instance is an ambiguous sin.

The Greeks named it Hubris, as it plagued heroes and catalyzed their downfall. On

the other hand, pride has evolved to be perceived as confidence which is necessary

for success. Thus, these sins are encoded in our lives, no matter how we distinguish

them, but their importance emerges when we analyze how they influence us

(positively or negatively).