Less Than Charming

What’s quickfire week without a Fables note or two?
1001 Nights of Snowfall is a rather interesting take on the 1001 nights. Basically, Snow White goes to Baghdad to convince the Sultan to join the European Fables’ resistance to the Adversary’s forces, but some wires are unfortunately crossed. The Sultan, convinced of the inherent perfidy and unfaithfulness of women, is marrying virgin women, bedding them, and then executing them the next day.
Snow’s only hope for survival is to tell him stories so fascinating that he will put off the execution so as to hear another the next night.
You may recognize the format. More on that later.
Snow’s first tale concerns Snow White herself, and the murderous revenge she takes on the seven dwarfs who imprisoned and apparently raped her before her marriage to Prince Charming*.
What irritates me here is that while Snow is nominally telling the story, it’s actually presented from the point of view of her former husband. We see Snow take steps towards her vengeance fencing lessons, long rides in the country but her revenge is discussed in terms of its implications for the prince. The whole affair is characterized as a political nightmare that threatens the peace between the kingdom of the dwarfs and that of men. Charming is put to some trouble to prevent a war, and annoyed that he’s been ‘played for a fool’.
Afterwards, Snow tells the Sultan:
[H]er husband never quite trusted her again. One version of the story has it that their marriage ended when he slept with the princess’s sister. … But wiser listeners might conclude that the marriage really ended on the day she set out to become a destroyer.
On the surface, this is meant to be a caution against revenge such as the one the Sultan intends to take on Snow and thus exactly the sort of thing a clever woman might say to ward off her own death. But because it’s heavily implied that Snow White was raped, an unfortunate side-effect is to provide us with yet another story where it’s all about the effect the rape of a woman and its aftermath have upon a guy.
I find that less than charming.

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  • All we see of the ceremony is Snow promising to love, honour and obey which is again anachronistic. At first, given the difficulty I had with those vows in her later wedding to Bigby, I was relieved that at least these words are apparently just a formality. However, later she affirms that she really has sworn to obey Charming all things (save telling him the secrets of her past). On reflection, that makes her later vows even more scary for me, since making such oaths to Prince Charming turned out so very badly. Bigby is, while a former mass-murderer, unquestionably much nicer to Snow than Charming is, but that kind of sworn obedience is a terrible thing to grant any romantic partner.