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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.

 

 

Mirror mirror on the wall…. please don’t reflect me at all

Terry Pratchett in his obtuse novel Witches Abroad uses mirrors as a focal point of in a symbolic nature not commonly seen in stories. There is the classic use of mirrors in the tale as well, with the evil witch Lilith using it as a mean of obtaining her power and as a means of communication. First instance in the very beginning of the novel the dying witch Desiderata Hollow is approached by her evil fairy godmother counterpart, Lilith, to discuss her coming death and failure. It was earlier mentioned that Desiderata was always taught never to get between two mirrors, a practice that Lilith manipulates to achieve control of the city Guana. This taboo of mirrors is explicitly described in the very beginning as being part of a superstition that mirrors “steal a bit of a person’s soul and there’s only so much of a person to go around” (5). It is also discussed that those who spend their lives reflecting themselves in various images thus, “develop a thin quality” (5). The fundamental theme of this kind of superstition is vanity, and how when one is so engrossed with themselves they lose track of who they are. It as if one forgets to look inward, discovering who they are in a metaphysical way, rather than basing one sense of self on the outward reflection, seeing them on the superficial level. It is reminiscent of the mythology of Narcissus, who stared at his reflection through a pond and fell in love with it so deeply that it leads to his death. He was only concerned with his outward reflection, yet there’s another interpretation of the tale in which the lake he would gaze into was weeping and the goddesses of the forest asked the lake why he wept, the lake responded because within Narcissus’s reflection he saw his own beauty. Seeing one’s beauty inwardly through a reflection seems to be more what Pratchett would profess. Using mirrors and reflections as a means of exposing vanity is also heavily prevalent in the fairytale, most likely being parodied in this novel, Snow White. The evil witch, similar to Lilith, begs the mirror to tell her that she is the most beautiful reflection he had ever seen, yet he cannot and her vanity takes over giving power to the evil inside her. With the Snow White fairytale the superstition of losing one’s soul from gazing into mirrors tool long withstands, for the vanity that ensues causes her to give into evil which destroys a person’s soul. She even goes to length of trying to kill Snow White, an act that wounds a person’s soul beyond repair. Lilith therefore goes an extra mile in destroying her soul because not only does she gaze into her reflection constantly, but she utilizes mirrors to fuel her power of controlling people’s lives. She does this by not only reflecting herself in one mirror, but two, causing her reflection to go on till infinity. This creates an infinite tunnel of vanity, that is not easily broken or escaped from.

Oompa-Loompa Doopity Doo, Wonka’s Got a Business Plan for You

Willy Wonka, world-renowned chocolate-maker, employs many clever tactics to ensure his place at the top of the industry. In Roald Dahl’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka is a successful business owner, famous public figure, factory manager, and inventor. His passion and fanaticism for his work place him far beyond his competitors. The reasons for Willy Wonka’s success can be attributed to his original inventions, his loyal employees and his skill as a salesman.
Wonka proves to be an innovative businessman, constantly creating new kinds of candy that will set him apart from the competition. When telling Charlie about him, Grandpa Joe raves that “he’s invented a way of making chocolate ice cream so that it stays cold for hours and hours without being in a refrigerator”, “marshmallows that taste of violets and rich caramels that change color every ten seconds as you suck them”. These original sweets of his give Wonka a competitive edge over other chocolate-makers. There are, however, many who have tried to imitate his creations.
Spies, posing as regular employees in Wonka’s factory, used to sell his ideas to his competitors. When other chocolate factories began producing sweets imitating his, Wonka realized that the safety of all of his sweets recipes were in jeopardy. He hastily sent all of his employees home, telling them never to return, and shut down his factory. Seeking loyal workers who would not betray his secret recipes, Wonka eventually discovered the Oompa-Loompas and convinced them to come work for him. The Oompa-Loompas live in the factory and provide Wonka with the labor services he needs. In this way “[n]o spies can go into the factory” and steal his inventions.
Wonka always invents new types of sweets as a way to stay ahead of his competitors. Wonka “invented more than two hundred new kinds of chocolate bars, each with a different center”. He did this because he is a savvy business man who knows that novelty products distinguish him from other chocolate-makers. It can also be said that Wonka comes up with his Golden Ticket idea as a way to increase sales as well as find an heir to his empire. He knows that by putting out the tickets, his can “sell more than ever before”.

Human and or Oompa- Loompa

             Oompa Loompas are dehumanized in this story in many different ways. We are first “introduced” to them in the form of shadows without a clear introduction. When they are introduced on page 68 the words Mr. Wonka uses are belittling: “Imported directly from Loompaland” and “I found the little Oompa- Loompas living in tree houses” (69). Imported is a word used to describe the arrival a good, an inanimate object, he also suggests that he “found” them and describes them as “little” and “tiny”. When Mr. Wonka begins to tell about the history of the workers he shares that they are from Loompaland and Mrs. Salt, a geography teacher, claims that there is no such place; this adds to the dehumanization of the Oompa- Loompas because it is implying that they come from no real place, no real country, or a real background. The Oompa – Loompas are only seen as a group/tribe, there is no individuality besides the leader which is only known as “the Oompa – Loompa leader”. They are described to be savage yet helpless even as a group: “they were living on green caterpillars” (69). Mr. Wonka thinks he has saved them from what they could have become, they seem incapable of leading a “happy” life without his aid.

On page 71 Veruca shouts at her dad and nags him to get her an Oompa- Loompa: “I want to take it home with me! Go on, Daddy! Get me and Oompa- Loompa!”, Veruca thinks she can take one home as though it were an animal at a pet shop and had no will. Once she learns that she will not get an Oompa- Loompa she sets her sights on another “pet”. Mr. Wonka does not “employ” only Oompa- Loompas in his factory: “Oompa- Loompas can’t get walnuts out of walnut shells in one piece. They always break them in two. Nobody except squirrels can get walnuts whole out of walnut shells every time” (110), buy using squirrels to work and compete with the Oompa- Loompas it shows that they are on the same level as an animal. Mr. Wonka tried to use them to do the task of a squirrel. “”All right,” Veruca said, “I’ll have you!”“ talking about one of the working squirrels, she is just as easily amused and sees both Oompa- Loompas and squirrels as pets.

Aside from all the jobs that we learn the Oompa- Loompas do, we do not learn what they do in their spare time nor do we know if they have spare time. It seems like they work all day like machines or animals and serve only one purpose.

 

Charlie a hero or just Lucky?

Charlie in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a small boy that is terribly poor.  His whole journey in Willie Wonka’s world begins when his Grandpa Joe tells him stories about Wonka.  After some days Charlie and his family hear news that the Wonka factory will be opened to only five kids and their guardians. It was all luck that Charlie found the dollar that bought him the chocolate with the golden ticket.  Charlie’s competitors all had vices.  They were all spoiled children and Dahl made them “bad”.  Charlie was poor and had nothing.  This made him modest to everything given to him.  Thorough out the book Charlie didn’t do anything.  With that it can be said that since he didn’t do anything, he was doing something.  He wasn’t making a scene to get what he wanted.. The only thing he wanted was to experience this opportunity with his grandfather, and they were already doing that.  Charlie is a hero to two different situations. Charlie is a hero to Willie Wonka. The whole reason why Wonka sent out the tickets was to find a successor to his chocolate factory.  Wonka wanted a child to be the next to run his factory so that he could teach the child all his secrets and when his successor has grown up, he still has the mind of a child.  Because he was so modest and has no vices, Charlie would not be corrupted later on in life.  He wouldn’t sell the company just for the money, he wouldn’t be distracted, or he wouldn’t abuse the power he was given.  Charlie would be like Wonka if not better for the factory.  Charlie was also a hero to his family.  Mr. Bucket, Charlie’s father, had just lost his job and was making less money than before.  The family was struggling more than they were before.  When Charlie came home with the golden ticket it was like a miracle.  We then see the family again when Wonka crashes into the house with Grandpa Joe and Charlie, into the Buckets home.  They were giving the family the good news that they were no longer going to be poor.  Charlie was a hero to Wonka and the Buckets, but the whole things started with a bit of luck.

Gluttony, Greed, Lust & Sloth

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory five kids get the opportunity of a lifetime when they get to go visit the baffling unknown world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  It turns out that of the five lucky children, that all but one is awful.  Each child has a characteristic that aligns them with one of the seven deadly sins.  Roald Dahl uses each of the children to illustrate four of the seven deadly sins and their punishments in contrast to Charlie who is an example of how children should behave.

The first child to be punished is Augustus Gloop who’s deadly sin is gluttony.  Gluttony is excessive eating or drinking which is evident in the author’s descriptions of the boy saying, “Great flabby folds of fat bulged out from every part of his body, and his face was like a monstrous ball of dough with two small greedy curranty eyes peering out upon the world” (21).  His greed of food made him into this little fat boy who is too preoccupied with eating and food, he does not want to do anything else.  His punishment is set according to his love of food. Ironically, while visiting the Chocolate Room, Augustus is sucked up a pipe after trying to drink from the chocolate water fall and river.

The next child is Violet Beauregarde, whose deadly sin is greed.  Greed is excessive or extreme desire, which in this case is gum. She is preoccupied with gum saying, “I adore gum. I can’t do without it…it’s my most treasured possession” (31). The readers see Violet’s greed is evident when they visit the Inventing Room.  When Mr. Wonka tells her about the original new gum that is a full course meal, she automatically wants it and takes it for herself even after Mr. Wonka warns her it is ‘not quite right yet’ (95).  She is too obsessive by the gum and the feeling it gives her that she eats it anyway leading her becoming a blueberry.

Following Violet is Veruca Salt who is condemned for her sin of lust.   Lust is an uncontrolled desire for what someone else has. Her parents spoil her and give in to her demands so whenever she sees something new she automatically wants it and gets it. When she visits the Nut room she sees the trained squirrels and immediately wants one. “Hey Mummy, I’ve decided I’ve wanted a squirrel!,” but when Wonka says they are not for sell she says “Who says I can’t! I’m going in to grab me a squirrel this very minute!” (111). She decides to ignore Wonka and his warnings, however her ‘lust’ for a squirrel is too much so she is punished by the squirrels themselves because she was classified as a bad egg, causing her to be thrown down the garbage shoot.

The last child is Mike Teavee, whose deadly sin is sloth. Sloth is spiritual or emotional apathy, in other words, being physically and emotionally inactive. All he does is sit at home and watch the television.  When the reporters came to interview him he yelled several times for everyone to be quiet then claiming that the show “is an absolute wiz-banger! I watch it every day. I watch all of them every day, even the crummy ones” (33). He is completely consumed by television causing him to be physically and emotionally inactive every day. When Wonka explains about the ability to transfer something real to television, Mike jumps to the opportunity.  It is his obsession with television along with not wanting to be productive and ultimately his slothfulness, that leads to his punishment of being shrunken.

The effectiveness of giving these examples children portraying deadly sins and their lessons shows children that these characteristics are not acceptable.  It tells children that if they have these characteristics and do not grow out of them then they will be punished like Augustus, Violet, Veruca, and Mike.  Roald Dahl also uses Charlie as an example of how to behave.  In contrast to the other children, Charlie is such a humble, well-mannered, thoughtful, and an overall good person. He is awarded for his good heart, becoming the owner of the best chocolate factory in the world.

Potter Puppet Pals

Is a he a true hero or is he faking?

Harry Potter, “the boy who lived” has always been considered someone who is higher above than regular people because he is the one who stopped Voldemort and weakened his powers.  Harry was only a baby and he was able to do this while adult wizards with education about magic and experience could not even stop Voldemort.  Because of that he is considered a hero, but it is not just this reason alone that he is considered a hero.  He has been very strong and determined throughout his young wizard career.  He is able to stand up and fight.  In the first book, he battled Voldemort and in the second one, he fought Tom Riddle, the Basilisk, and even destroyed one of the holcruxes.  Then, in this book he is able to take on an Expecto patronum charm which is very advanced magic to defeat dementors.   One can be born with hero characteristics, which Harry clearly inherited from his parents, but one cannot be a hero unless they set out to change the injustice instead of just letting it come to them.  Harry could have let Voldemort come to him or just let Voldemort kill but he was committed to fighting Voldemort.  This was partly to avenge his parents; and this seems the motive for a lot of what Harry does throughout the books, but he still wants to stop Voldemort because Voldemort is wrong and evil.  Harry has the characteristics needed of a hero.  He is strong, he is capable of being a leader, he is determined, strong-willed, and passionate.  Harry cares a lot about his friends, his teachers, and Hogwarts and he would do whatever he could to protect them.  This is evident throughout all the books where we see Harry put himself on the line to fight.  In the fifth book, he builds an army to fight Voldemort after he rose again in the graveyard during the Triwizard Tournament.  Harry is sometimes a little naïve and goes out looking for Voldemort but this is not always the case.  He was innocent at first but as he progressed through his years at Hogwarts, he started becoming more daring and finally sets out and does kill Voldemort in the end.  Harry has all the traits of being a hero, he is a true hero.

A Hero

Throughout the novel, Harry Potter is portrayed as a hero. This is mostly because of the events surrounding his birth, as he was the only one to escape the curse from Voldemort. Due to the event, Harry became famous, and has been living up to his reputation. If he had never defeated Voldemort as a child, he would be a normal wizard attending Hogwarts. However, due to his accomplishment, he is treated differently, and therefore gets more help and support from others around him. He is the one to defeat the dementors, saving Sirius Black’s life. Earlier in the novel, before knowing Hermione’s secret, Harry believes that it is his dad who he saw that had saved both his life as well as Siruis Black’s. However, later on, “it hit him – he understood. He hadn’t seen his father – he had seen himself” (411). This portrays his heroic actions as he defeated the dementors with his courage and abilities. If it weren’t for Harry’s fame, he would most likely be a normal wizard, just as Hermione. Even though Hermione has more knowledge, she isn’t given as much of an importance as Harry due to his fame. Most of Harry’s heroic deeds are dependent on his assistance from his friends and elders who not only support him, but also go through most of the events with him. Furthermore, he shows his heroic actions through the sympathy and kindness he shows towards others.  Although he had the option of letting Peter Pettigrew die since he was a traitor, he decided not to do so, and instead decides that he wants him to be taken to Azkaban. Therefore, if it weren’t for the events surrounding his birth, his deeds would not be performed with such courage and assistance from others.

A Well Deserved Hero – Tanner Carlton

In J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ the main character Harry is considered a natural born hero by many around him. Harry’s considered a hero because of his miraculous near-death experience as a child with the dark lord Voldemort. Throughout this story we learn that Harry’s fame is well deserved as he shows true signs of good leadership to other’s around him.

In the story, Harry acts as a sort-of silent hero who helps perform good deeds without recognition. Throughout the action Harry is pressed to catch the  said-traitor who helped kill his parents, Sirius Black. Upon learning that the traitor was not Black, but Peter Pettigrew instead, Harry begins to display his truly heroic characteristics.

With his friend Hermione, Harry dangerously goes back in time with a time turner that Hermione had been using for school purposes. First Harry and Hermione save Buck-beak, Hagrid’s beloved pet hypogrif that hurts Malfoy earlier in the story. This becomes important because Buck-beak is eventually given to Sirius Black so he can escape from Hogwarts. Then, For Harry’s true example of heroism he conjures a very difficult patronus spell to get rid of a group of dementors. In grand fashion he steps up to his heroic status by saving his friends as well as his newly introduced godfather, Sirius Black. An amazing effort that is not properly rewarded, but enjoyed by the joy of success with Harry’s good friends.

In conclusion, good friends seem to be where Harry sources his ‘heroic’ power. Not the undeserved fame, that he has previously recieved. If there is one main thing Harry and his parent’s had in common it would be good friends, and it is from those friends  that they both gain there true powers and leadership.