Author Archives: A Girl With Brown Eyes

Which Witch is Which?

Lilith can be compared to the White Witch. Both are portrayed as the evil villains of their corresponding secondary worlds. The witches worked towards different goals. Lilith was trying to mediate and encourage the happy ending of a story, whereas the White Witch was trying to prevent one by prohibiting the Pevensie children from taking the throne at Cair Paravel. The secondary worlds and the intentions of Lilith and the White Witch are dissimilar, however, their use of magic, appearance, and actions proves them to be nearly identical.

The first way in which they are similar is by the description of their appearance. At the ball Lilith’s dress is described as being so white that, “Until that point it had never occurred to Nanny Ogg that there could be different colors of white” (Pratchett 281). Her dress is also illustrated as having “puffed sleeves” and being “edged with lace” (Pratchett 282). Similarly, when Edmund meets the White Witch in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” she is described as being “covered in white fur up to her throat (Lewis 33). Lilith and the White Witch also lied to and deceived Edmund and Ella upon meeting them. When Magrat met Ella for the first time, Ella asks her if she is the good fairy godmother, “Oh the good one,” she said. “Definitely” (Pratchett 214). However, Lilith had already planted ideas of good and evil into Ella’s head before Magrat met her and insisted that she was the good the fairy godmother. This is shown when Ella responds to Magrat, “that’s just what she said too” (Pratchett 214). In “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, the White Witch acts correspondingly. She lures Edmund in with Turkish Delight, and bribes him into thinking that she is good and just wants to meet his family. Therefore, when Edmund learns of Aslan, he already has in his mind that the White Witch is good and that he needs to arrange for his brother and sisters to meet her. Lilith and the White Witch inserted ideas into their targets causing them to be skeptical of other forces that claimed themselves to be good such as Magrat or Aslan.

Lilith and the White Witch also both use animal servants to try and achieve their goals. The White Witch has guards that are wolves. They do her bidding and search out the Pevensie children when the White Witch is seeking them. Lilith has three sisters that are “guarding” Ella, “they’re snakes” (Pratchett 233). They are described as having teeth that have never been seen on human before, skin that looked like scales, and one sister’s “gaze was fixed immovably on Magrat” (Pratchett 231). They also rely heavily on spies. Lilith spied through various mirrors to observe what others were doing throughout the world, and the White Witch used some of the trees, birds, and animals in Narnia as her spies.

Magic is the downfall of both Witches. The White Witch was hindered by not being able to understand the Deeper Magic, which allowed Aslan to rise after he sacrificed himself. She also relied so much on her wand that when Edmund stripped it away from her, she was left defenseless and ultimately defeated. Lilith also fell prey to magic. She was unable to understand that stories need to, and want to end and that good always overcomes evil. At the end of the story, Death placed Lilith “inside the mirror” leaving her in a state that “is somewhere between” being dead and alive (Pratchett 340).

In conclusion, the White Witch and Lilith are very similar in their actions, intentions and appearance. They had different motives. Lilith was trying to mediate and influence the happy ending of Ella’s story; the White Witch was trying to prevent Narnia’s happy ending by preventing the Pevensie children from sitting in the thrones of Cair Paravel. However, they both reacted similarly by trying to portray themselves as the “good guy”. In the end magic was the downfall of Lilith and the White Witch.

Oh…You Aren’t A Wizard?

J. K. Rowling demonizes the human characters in her book and validates witches at their expense. Specifically through the Dursely’s, Rowling makes humans seem un-accepting, and inconsiderate.  The story begins with Harry trying to do his homework under his sheets with a flashlight because if his Aunt or Uncle find out he is studying magic in their house he will be severely punished.  Harry even describes his Aunt and Uncle as having “a very medieval attitude towards magic” (Rowling 2).  Even though magic has changed over the years and his Aunt and Uncle do not fully understand it, the Dursley’s are still prejudiced towards witches, wizards, and magic.

After Uncle Vernon talks to Ron on the phone he turns to Harry and says, “HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE-PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”(Rowling 4). This shows how disgusted the Dursley’s are with witches and wizards and how offended they are that one would call their house. They also make it clear that they are embarrassed that Harry is living with them when Uncle Vernon’s sister comes to visit.  Uncle Vernon tells Harry that, “We’ve told Marge you attend St. Brutus’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys” (Rowling 19). He would rather his sister believe that Harry is a criminal than confess that he is a wizard.  Dursley’s deny Harry’s differences and lie to themselves and others in hopes that Harry will be “normal” one day. Rowling then sheds a positive light on witches and wizards when she reveals that Hermione is taking a “Muggles Studies” class (Rowling 57).  Hermione is taking this because she thinks it “will be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view” (Rowling 57).  In this way, Rowling further belittles and criticizes humans for not trying to understand witches and wizards, and create a more acceptive and understanding persona witches and wizards.

Humans are also depicted to be inconsiderate and rash.  While on break Harry must turn over anything magical to his Aunt and Uncle so they can be locked away for the summer, “This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work” (Rowling 3). Even though the books are for Harry’s education, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Dursley are so appalled and opposed to Harry learning about magic and that he his a wizard, that they attempt to ban him from doing any work over the holiday. The Dursley’s do not even acknowledge their Nephew’s birthday, in fact, “they had completely ignored his last two birthdays, and he had no reason to suppose why they would remember this one” (Rowling 6).  Aunt Marge is also extremely inconsiderate to Harry.  She is constantly making rude comments about Harry’s deceased parents, saying things like, “If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’ll be something wrong with the pup” (Rowling 25).  Aunt Marge then moves on to insulting Harry, comparing him to one of her dogs who drowned because he was “weak” and “underbred” (Rowling 27).  The Dursley family gives Muggles and humans a negative connotation for being rude and inconsiderate.

Rowling’s critique of the Dursleys extends to the Muggle society as a whole, and makes them appear un-accepting to different cultures and beliefs (witches and wizards), and inconsiderate and rude by insulting to others.  This encourages the reader to sympathize and support the wizard characters more than the Muggle, human characters throughout the novel.

You Can’t Fight In The War, But You Can Make Dinner

The female characters in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” are ascribed with certain gender roles.  In the beginning of the novel Susan and Lucy are compared to their mother right away as shown when Edmund tells Susan to stop “trying to talk like mom” (Lewis 2).  Susan is also the one to suggest that they wear some of the coats in the wardrobe around Narnia, acting again like a mother by preparing and taking care of everyone with her “very sensible plan” (Lewis 61).  Lucy and Susan also fall into female stereotype that woman shouldn’t fight or be in a war.  Father Christmas gives Mr. and Mrs. Beaver presents and then gives all of the children gifts as well.  Peter is given a sword and a shield to fight with, and Lucy and Susan are given weapons as well.  The girls are instructed to only “use the bow only in great need” because girls are “not to be in battle” (Lewis 118).  And even when Susan is dragged into the war when a wolf chases her up into a tree.  Susan is described as looking as if she was about to pass out, or faint and be sick, and sits in the tree until her brother, Peter, rescues her and kills the wolf.  Theses situations demonstrate the idea that women are meant to be in the house and not out fighting in war.  Lucy is also given a special gift from Father Christmas that will heal the injured or sick with just one drop.  Giving her a role as a healer or nurse figure, which is commonly a female gender role.

Mrs. Beaver also adheres to traditional notions of femininity.   When the cohort first arrives at the den they walk in to Mrs. Beaver, “sitting in the corner with a thread in her mouth, working busily with her sewing machine” (Lewis 78).  She stops sewing once everyone is inside, and with the help of Susan and Lucy, prepares dinner.  And once everyone realizes that Edmund has slipped away and they must leave too, Mrs. Beaver is the one who prepares packs for everyone so that they, “wouldn’t set out on a journey with nothing to eat” (Lewis 110).  While everyone else is concerned with making a fast get away Mrs. Beaver makes sure everyone will have food for a long travel and considers what essentials she needs to pack.  The role of making food, and preparing meals for everyone is also a traditional female role.

The White Witch also embodies female qualities.  Although she is evil and usually has cruel intentions, she exhibits mother-like qualities when she first meets Edmund.  She notices right away how cold Edmund looks and says to him, “come and sit with me here on the sledge and I will put my mantle around you and we will talk” (Lewis 36).  And after he is settled in she offers him a warm drink and Turkish Delight.

All of the female characters in the novel exhibit some form of traditional women gender roles, ranging from preparing meals to not fighting in war. Susan, Mrs. Beaver, and the White Witch all have mother-like qualities.  And Susan and Lucy fall into the gender stereotype that women should not be involved in a war but should remain act as healers and take care of the people at home.

And They Lived “Happily Ever After”-Oh That’s A Different Story

In Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” everyone lives “happily ever after”.

However, this is not the case in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”.  The Little Mermaid sacrifices a great deal to try to win over the love of the Prince.  She leaves her family for him, gives the sea witch her beautiful voice, and even sacrifices herself at the end of the story by refusing to “stab [a knife] into the Prince’s heart” despite knowing that she will die at the first sign of dawn (231).

The only positive outcome to the story is at the end when the Little Mermaid does not turn into sea foam as all mermaids do, but instead into a daughter of the air.  She is informed that, “When for three hundred years we have striven to do the good we can, then we shall win an immortal soul and have a share of mankind’s eternal happiness.” (Andersen 232). However, this isn’t very promising for there is a catch: if they encounter a good child “a year is taken away from the three hundred.  But if [they] see a child who is naughty or spiteful, then […] every tear adds one more day to [their] time of trial” (232).  This makes achieving a soul a long, tedious process.

The Little Mermaid is not the only character to be deprived of a “happy ending”.  During her time on land and right up until the night she dies, the Little Mermaid’s family experiences a lot of grief and self sacrifice too.   Her sisters would often visit and remind the Little Mermaid “how unhappy she had made them all.” (228).  Her father and grandmother grieved her absence too.  And in the end the Little Mermaid’s sisters gave their “beautiful long hair […] to the witch” in order to try and save their younger sister (231).  Even the soon-to-be-married Prince will spend the rest of his life thinking of the Little Mermaid “sorrowfully” and debating whether or not he could have prevented her from “throw[ing] herself into the waves” (232).