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#eddie munson has me in a chokehold in a way that no other stranger things character has had
sasukehoe · a month ago
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allgirlsareprincesses · 15 days ago
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The Mutilated Princess: Chrissy Cunningham as Snow White
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You know I’m serious about a ship when I give it the fairy tale analysis treatment, and HellCheer (Eddie Munson x Chrissy Cunningham) has me in a chokehold these days, so here it goes.
Disclaimer: I do not think any of this is intentional on the part of the Duffer Bros and in fact think they’ve already veered pretty far from this direction because they’re fairly standard horror guys. I’d be floored if they chose a fairy tale ending for Stranger Things.
Trigger Warning: Fairy Tale motifs like gore, blood, dismemberment, and other mutilation will be discussed. Chrissy’s eating disorder is also mentioned.
The Dark Mother
Chrissy is introduced to us as the “Queen of Hawkins High,” a sweet and innocent girl under the power of her abusive mother. Already we have a classic fairy tale setup, with the maiden at the mercy of her evil [step]mother. Usually, the maiden is hated for her youthful beauty, which is a symbol for a uniquely feminine power desired by the villain. In Chrissy’s story, this is quite literal, as her mother’s deprecating comments about her figure have driven her to an eating disorder. While little detail about Mrs. Cunningham is provided, it seems that she is projecting her own insecurities about cultural beauty standards onto her daughter, and so she may resent Chrissy’s petite teenage frame. We may assume that the mother does not like what her mirror shows her, and so she acts out her jealousy on her more beautiful daughter.
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Most Snow White tales begin the same way, with the evil queen asking her mirror “Who is the fairest of them all?” only to discover that the young princess is more beautiful than she. That said, the next action the Dark Mother takes in response to this realization varies: She may send the girl into the forest to be banished or killed, she may mutilate her in order to destroy her beauty, or some combination of the above. In one particular tale, the mother drags the girl into the wilderness herself and deliberately starves her until the girl begs for food. The mother tells her that if she wants to eat, she must first gouge out her own eye. The poor child relents and cuts out her eye, but then the mother gives her an oversalted cake, so that in time her daughter is crying of thirst. Again, the mother promises her water if she will gouge out the other eye, and the girl does, finally left blind and alone in the forest. The Dark Mother returns to her mirror and is satisfied that she is again the fairest of them all.
The Dismemberment
Of course, much of this appears in Chrissy’s story. Her mother has indeed been encouraging her to starve herself so that she has become so desperate she is seeking drugs to salve her suffering. In fact, she flees into a wild forest to find relief, just as Snow White does. But the most distinctive similarity to this tale is the removal of the eyes. While Vecna’s penchant for extracting his victims’ eyes is never explained, we can assume it’s mostly just a gross-out horror element for television. But in fairy tales, dismemberment or disabling plays an important role in the character’s journey. In Women Who Run With The Wolves, Dr. Estes considers this the second stage in the Wild Woman journey. This is when the heroine suffers the terrible consequences of the bargain her guardians have made on her behalf, usually by the loss of a limb or one of her senses.
Chrissy’s mother forced her into a lifestyle she did not want, possibly into a body she did not want, so the broken bones and empty sockets may be viewed as symbolic of her lost agency. As merely her mother’s doll or puppet, she has not yet peeled away from the parent to achieve adulthood. As such, she enters the darkest part of her journey, descending into the underworld (literally “the Upside-Down” in Stranger Things). Presumably, this is the end of her story for the Duffer Brothers, but I’d like to share the ending we might expect if the story were to continue to follow the fairy tale.
Helpers and Heroes
While most people are familiar with the seven dwarfs of the Grimm tale, in most stories Snow White comes upon a group of robbers who take her in. These robbers shelter her, treat her as a sister, and advise her not to trust strangers. By the second episode of Season 4, Chrissy is sadly a lifeless corpse in the Upside-Down, but there IS a party of misfits who hide a hunted prince in Hawkins.... Yes, it’s Steve, Dustin, Robin, and all their friends to the rescue! This band of friends literally feed, shelter, and protect Eddie after he was unable to save Chrissy, and so in this moment he takes her place in the story. However, before long the hunter catches up to their prey, and Eddie must flee again as Jason and his goons draw closer.
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Meanwhile, Chrissy is trapped in Vecna’s “castle,” practically on display like a trophy. When Snow White is ultimately murdered by the Dark Mother, the robbers are unable to bury her, and so they put her on display in their home, in the forest, or at the top of a mountain. Often they may place her in a finely-crafted coffin, which eventually draws the attention of a passing prince who asks to keep the sleeping maiden for himself. Now, “Corroded Coffin” may be an incredibly metal band name, but as many have pointed out, it also uses Chrissy’s initials. Given Eddie’s obvious crush on her since childhood, it’s not much of a stretch to guess she inspired the name. So it seems that there is even a coffin for our deathly princess, possessed by her prince.
Healing the Princess
“But they’re both dead!” you say, to which I respond “Only mostly dead! There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” And true, as stated, I don’t expect the Duffers to take a fairy tale route. BUT IF THEY DID, all the pieces are there! In fact, Vecna’s victims being saved by music is a classic fairy tale motif. Once more from Dr. Estes’ book comes the tale of the Skeleton Woman, a maiden who was cast off and abandoned at the bottom of the sea. When she becomes entangled in a fisherman’s net and he accidentally drags her home, she eventually beats his heart like a drum and sings flesh back onto her bones. This is the soul song, the call of the lover and the true self. By this song, the heroine recognizes who she is and whom she loves, and thus sings herself back to life. We see this play out almost literally with Max when Lucas plays her soul song to draw her out of death.
Eddie of course has already offered to play for Chrissy when he invited her to come see his band perform, so there was room to have him play a soul song for her and draw her out of her tomb. But what I find even more interesting is the way Eddie and friends GET to the Upside-Down in the first place. When seeking a second gate, they enter through the lake, which means that one of the escape routes from the underworld is through water. In fairy tales, bathing or submersion in water is the most common means of healing the maiden’s dismemberment. In the tale mentioned above where the girl gouged out her eyes, the Holy Mother appears to advise her to wash her eye sockets with water. She does and her eyes are restored. Similarly, a woman who lost her hands may pour tears over the stumps and have them restored, or a scarred woman may bathe in a lake and see her scars disappear.
Dustin has already cried over Eddie, so the tears are there to restore him to life. If someone were to lead him and/or Chrissy out of the Upside-Down through the lake gate, by fairy tale logic, their bodies would be healed and they could return to life.
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It’s a shame that the show probably won’t take this route, but I hope that some enterprising fic writers or fan artists may find inspiration! There is a huge and untapped overlap between horror and fairy tales!
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