Author Archives: mtraylor

White Witch’s Wellspring

Of Terry Pratchette’s many references to famous fairy tales and fantasy stories in Witches Abroad, the comparison between Lilith and the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia is one that is not as clearly stated such as comparisons to the story of Cinderella. In the Chronicles of Narnia, it is said that Lilith is the mother of the White Witch. Through Pratchette’s character Lilith, he expands on the characteristics of Lilith from the Chronicles of Narnia, thus making connections to C.S. Lewis’s White Witch and alluding to why her characteristics were greedy, manipulative, and oppressive. One specific characteristic that is very evident between both Lilith from Witches Abroad and the White Witch is that both hold a facade that they are kind and out to perform acts for the greater good, but in fact, their actions are misleading and destructive. The White Witch was able to lure Edmund into bringing his siblings to Narnia by offering him Turkish delight and hot cocoa infused with her dark magic, while Lilith becomes the power behind the throne of Genua by becoming heavily involved with narrative magic and using mirrors to boost her power. “‘Her who’s behind all this,’ said Mrs. Gogol. Ogg. I mean her. Her with her mirror magic. Her who likes to control. Her who’s in charge” (Pratchett 225). Just like the similarities between their oppressive actions, they both were equally punished by some form of magic. The White Witch was defeated by her ignorance, for she did not know of the deeper magic that goes back beyond the dawn of time; therefore, Aslan was born again, and made haste to defeat the White Witch. In the mirror universe, Lilith and Granny are confronted by endless reflections. Death tells them that they are both alive and dead, and can only escape when they find the one version of themselves that is real. Granny looks down at herself and simply says,”This one” (Pratchett 344). Lilith, whose whole life has consisted of reflections, is unable to choose and is doomed to spend the rest of time imprisoned in a dimension of mirrors, and has not been seen since.
Good Witch or Bad Witch Survey

Muggles Lack Imagination

In Rowling’s series, she belittles Muggles like the Dursleys, to express the closed minds of humans, as well as their zero-tolerance for witch craft. After the release of the Harry Potter series, Rowling was criticized immensely for the magical content of her books. Much criticism came from religions such as Judaism, Islam, Anglicanism, Greek Orthodox, and Catholicism. The religious groups concluded that the imagery is dangerous to their children, and that the content supports demon worship. Content and imagery such as drinking dead animal blood and receiving power, contact with the dead, and magic are considered immoral and not normal to these religious groups. As a result of all the negative responses, that did not even come from the audience that the books were aimed towards, Rowling takes a stab back to show the lengths Muggles have gone to express their opinion about witch craft by including a scene of Muggle outbreaks in the fourteenth century.
Harry Potter’s assignment over his summer break from Hogwarts is to write an Essay on “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless-Discuss” (1). The topic of the essay immediately describes the take Rowling was going to take on the subject, and the fact of it appearing on the first page suggests her immediate response to the criticism.
When muggles capture witches and burn them at the stake, Rowling stabs back by explaining in the text that it was enjoyable for witches, and that the Muggle out-roar was useless. “The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation” (2). In this scene, Rowling demonizes humans by portraying them to be irrational because of their reaction. She continues to demonize Muggles by explaining a scene where a witch enjoyed their impracticality. “Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty-seven times in various disguises” (2). Rowling’s critique of the Dursleys in comparison Muggle society as whole only extends to the topic of their outlook on magic and as well as their incapability to open their minds and welcome imagination.

From Children to Champions

Four thrones remained empty at Cair Paravel until two sons of Adam, and two daughters of Eve entered Narnia and defeated the White Witch; therefore, awaiting the Pevensie children to fulfill their destiny to defeat the evil queen and rule over Narnia.
Before the Pevensie children became respected rulers of Narnia (loved by all from creature, to tree, to centaurs) each grew and developed into the mold of a hero upon their entry into Narnia.
The eldest of the four children, Peter, grows and develops into the mighty hero from his first kill. Soon after the arrival to the stone table, where the children follow the beavers to unite with Aslan, the rendezvous spot is attacked by wolves that have alliances with the White Witch. With his quick thinking and sword in hand that was given to him by Father Christmas earlier on in their journey, Peter plunges “his sword, as hard as he could, between the brute’s forelegs into its heart.” At first, Peter did not feel brave, but instead rather ill; he pushed these insecurities aside and bravery becomes second nature when he quickly defeats the wolf. This first battle marked the beginning of Peter becoming a hero, because soon after Aslan asks him to kneel; “Rise up, Sir Peter Wolf’s-Bane. And whatever happens, never forget to wipe your sword.”
The girls however, become heroes in a less active manner. Susan, second to oldest, and Lucy, the youngest, each transform into heroes through their witty and caring characteristics. Therefore, Father Christmas gave a gift to each that suited these characteristics: Susan was given a horn, to play off her wits and to inform others of danger while Lucy, the youngest, was given a glass flask filled with a liquid that would cure those who became hurt or wounded. The girls’ warm characteristics leveled out the bravery of Peter and Edmund; therefore, becoming a well rounded team, suited for ruling over Narnia.
Lastly, the miraculous metamorphosis into a hero was that of Edmund’s. Edmund was introduced in the beginning of the story with many insecurities that led to his poisonous actions and characteristics, such as relentlessly teasing Lucy. It was only destiny that he was the first to encounter the White Witch, but destiny had more in mind for him. His experiences with the White Witch led to his realization of appreciation for his siblings, and when reunited with them, he knew that was where he belonged; he reunited with his siblings to continue on with their destiny to defeat the White Witch, and free Narnia.

Afterlife is better

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” expresses in great detail multiple differences between the world of the sea people and the world of humans.  The Little Mermaid, being the youngest daughter, has to wait until her fifteenth birthday to surface and look out and observe the human world.  Having four older sisters, Little Mermaid gets to hear of all the splendid things her sisters saw when they are allowed to surface on their birthday, and it makes her wait much more difficult.  However, all the wonderful observations do not compare to an immortal afterlife, considered the most important difference, only practiced in the human world.

Observations made by the older sisters were not much different from their underwater world.  The underwater world has vegetation and animals just like the human world does.

“The most wonderful trees and plants are growing down there, with stalks and leaves that bend so easily that they stir at the very slightest movement of the water, just as though they were alive.  All the fishes, big ones and little ones, slip in and out of the branches just like birds in the air up here (Anderson 216).”

Major differences between the human world in contrast to the underwater world are the town lights that twinkled brilliantly like hundreds of stars, and the sounds of town itself; there is music and the “the noise and clatter of carts and people” as well as bells ringing from towers of the churches (218).  The third sister enjoys the sight of “delightful green slopes with grape-vines” as well as “all the birds singing ; and the sun so hot that she often had to dive under the water to cool her burning face” (219).  Another aspect she found fascinating was how the children, “who could swim on the water although they had no fishes’ tails” (219).

Aside from the delightful differences, the human world having an immortal afterlife is considered more important.  So important to Little Mermaid, that she would give up her three hundred year life span for a human life span; shortened with a heavenly afterlife included.

“I would give the whole three hundred years I have to live, to become for one day a human being and then share in that heavenly world (Anderson 224).”

Little Mermaid’s grandmother shares her knowledge of the human world with her youngest grand daughter, but shares that it is better to live life and be happy for three hundred years.  The Little Mermaid dislikes the fact that she will die and only become sea foam, floating on the sea “never to hear the music of the waves or see the lovely flowers and the red sun” (224).  The description of souls “climbing up through the clear air, up till it reaches the shining stars” sounds much more intriguing to Little Mermaid than becoming sea foam after a long lived life.  Although the human world the body turns to dust, the soul lives for ever.