They’re Watching You


Often in the fantasy world, villainous characters use their power to corrupt the world around them so that they can maintain control over those they rule. The Villainesses of Terry Prachett’s “Witches Abroad” and C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” are no exception to this stereotype.  Although Lilith and the White Witch often go about it differently, their goal to be the head of a totalitarian society is the same. Through trickery, magical objects and manipulation, both Lilith and the White Witch strive to maintain control over others.

The first similarity that Lilith and the White Witch, or Jadis, share is seen in the white color of their dress. The color white is a symbol of purity and innocence but when these two villainesses wear it, white becomes a distortion of purity and innocence. Lilith wears white to hide the evil of her inner soul. “The white of Lily Weatherwax’s dress seemed to radiate; if all the lights went out, she felt Lily’s dress would glow.” (Prachett 282) The purity of white becomes hypocritical when Lilith wears the white dress because it serves to hide her true intentions, it is no longer innocent. Jadis also uses white to disguise herself. By wearing white, Jadis tricks a smitten Edmund into trusting her because he cannot and will not look past her disguise and see her for who she truly is. “She…was covered in white fur up to her throat… [and] [h]er face was white-not merely pale, but white like snow or paper…[i]t was a beautiful face.” (Lewis 33-34) Similar to Lilith, Jadis also uses her appearance of innocence and purity to trick others into believing that she is good. Both Lilith and the Jadis use the distortion of white to further expand their control.

Another way these two women strive to achieve their goal of a totalitarian society is through the magical tools they use throughout their stories. Without these tools, both women are completely powerless. Through mirrors, Lilith is able to keep an eye on her enemies, making her indestructible because she knows their next move. “[A] broomstick was lying in shards of broken glass. Her horrified gaze rose to meet a reflection. It glared back at her… ‘You broke my mirror.’” (Prachett 337) When the mirrors are destroyed, Lilith becomes a more equal opponent and is able to be defeated because she no longer holds power over the other characters. Jadis also has a magical object that she uses to conquer her enemies: a wand that turns other characters into stone. “ ‘And when he reached her he had sense to bring his sword smashing down on her wand…Once her wand was broken we began to have some chance[.]’”(Lewis 196) Undefeatable with her wand, Jadis is able to strike fear wherever she goes. However, when it is destroyed, she becomes more evenly matched with the other characters and is able to be defeated.  Without their magical objects, both Lilith and the Jadis are rendered useless and can no longer maintain their totalitarian society.

Finally, both villainesses take away the freedom of those they rule to make sure that no one is able to defeat them. In Genua, Lilith takes away the freewill of the inhabitants of the city and forces them to be a part of stories she creates. Though she does not want to marry the Duc, Ella explains that she must because Lilith wants it to happen, “It’s all been arranged. My other godmother says I’ve got to do it. She says it’s my destiny,” (Prachett 241) Ella is unable to break from Lilith’s control because she is a part of a story that Lilith has planned which will force Ella to live a “happy ending.” Unlike Lilith, Jadis is a bit more subtle in how she takes away others’ freedom. Instead of using magic like Lilith, the White Witch uses spies to watch other characters and let her know if they are up to something. “‘There are the trees…They’re always listening… there are [some] trees that would betray us to her; you know who I mean [.]’”(Lewis 73) Although Jadis does not necessarily control how the other characters behave when they are alone, she does control how they behave when they are in public. By forcing their subjects to act in certain ways, Lilith and Jadis are able to ensure that no one speaks out against them, especially where they can be heard.

Within the stories “Witches Abroad” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the two villainesses of these tales, Lilith and Jadis, are continually using similar ways to ensure the security of their rule. Lilith and Jadis are both selfish and greedy and therefore they use any means necessary to hold on to their power. However, it is because of their greed and selfishness that they ultimately cause their own downfall.



One response to “They’re Watching You

  1. mschloem you did a great job setting up your essay and used a detailed thesis. You gave specific examples and textual evidence for each point of your thesis making this a strong essay.

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