Over on DD Storyteller today I’m looking at the role of the witch in fairy tales:
‘Where would our most beloved fairy tales be without a witch? Portrayed as the stooped, haggard old woman the witch can also disguise herself as beautiful stepmother. Ultimately though, despite the word witch describing a man or a woman, a witch in our fairy tales is nearly always female.
In western fairy tales, typically, the witch appears as an old woman who has a hooked nose, a wart maybe, a pointy black hat a cape and a often a black cat. Living deep in the heart of the forest, high up in the castle on the mountain or hidden away in a cave by the sea, she is always manipulative, bitter and evil. She is ugly, removed from society, pitied and feared by those around her and is often thought to be the maker of her own misfortune.
In his studies of German myth and legend, Jacob Grimm described witches as ‘old women, who have become unable to love and work’ (Grimm, via, Schilmmlpfennig 2013). Witches and evil stepmothers often feature in the tales of Grimm and Perrault and the notoriety of witches may have stemmed from the witch-hunts of the 15th – 18th century, indicative of the time these stories were recorded, (Schimmnelpfennig, 2013).’