Jadis, commonly known as the White Witch, is the main villain of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published book in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series, and the second chronologically. Jadis also appears at length in The Magician's Nephew, which concerns her origins and the origins of Narnia. She is the Witch who froze Narnia in the Hundred Years Winter.
A short biographical sketch added to the books by later editors has led some readers to conclude that Jadis and the Lady of the Green Kirtle from The Silver Chair are the same person; but there is no suggestion to that effect in Lewis's writing.
The Magician's NephewEdit
In The Magician's Nephew, Jadis is revealed to be a native of Charn, a different world entirely from Narnia. She descended from a long line of kings and queens. This line began well, with honorable, decent-hearted people, but it grew evil and malevolent over many generations. Charn's final queen, Jadis, a powerful sorceress, fought against her sister in a bloody war which almost ended in her own defeat. Rather than submit to her sister, Jadis spoke the Deplorable Word and left Charn devoid of life. She passes through the Wood between the Worlds, an endless forest filled with pools of water that act as portals to other worlds, including the worlds of Earth and Narnia. Charn is destroyed so utterly that when Jadis leaves its pool in the Wood, the pool dries to nothing. While in the Wood, she appears to lose health, strength, and magical ability. Through the reckless actions of Digory Kirke, Jadis is transported to the world of Narnia at its creation, and she immediately starts scheming to become its mistress. She eats the Fruit of Everlasting Life, acquiring immortality and her white-colored skin; she then travels to the North to develop her magic anew, becoming the first of the "Northern Witches".
The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeEdit
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, set 1000 Narnian years after the events of The Magician's Nephew, Jadis has usurped power over Narnia, having magically forced the land into an "endless winter" during her reign, which as the book opens had lasted for a hundred years. Though it is always winter, she prevents Christmas from ever coming.
During her reign, the White Witch is styled "Her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, Empress of the Lone Islands". She makes two claims to buttress her authority to rule over Narnia. The first is that she is a human from Earth (a "daughter of Eve"). At the beginning of Narnia, Aslan gave "sons of Adam and daughters of Eve" dominion over all the beasts and magical creatures of Narnia. (Narnian dwarfs are not considered to be human, even though they can and do reproduce with humans; they are called "Sons of Earth".) Although the White Witch appears human (despite her irregular skin color and abnormal height), Narnian rumor holds that she descends from Adam's first wife, Lilith, and was half-Jinn and half-giantess, and thus not even partially human. The Magician's Nephew, by contrast with this slander, recounts her origin on Charn; but whether the people of Charn are human is never addressed.
The White Witch's second claim is that she is a servant of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea and rules with his blessing. This is at best a half-truth: she is the first to rebel in Narnia, and by the workings of the Deep Magic she is given ownership of all traitors and the right to kill them. For this reason, Mr. Beaver characterizes her as the Emperor's hangman (though Aslan rebukes him for saying this). The White Witch favors the Stone Table for her executions.
When the Pevensie children arrive in Narnia via Digory's magical wardrobe, it is explained to them that, according to an ancient prophecy, when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel as Kings and Queens of Narnia, the reign of the White Witch and the endless winter would end. Jadis is aware of the prophecy, and employs spies to tell her of any human that comes to Narnia. While there are other humans in the world of Narnia at the time of the first book — humans descended from the original King Frank and Queen Helen populate Archenland, Calormen, and the island kingdoms — humans are completely unknown in occupied Narnia, to the extent that the Narnians think them mythological.
The White Witch's most notorious deed, aside from uttering the Deplorable Word that destroys Charn, is killing Aslan on the Stone Table (as a surrogate for Edmund), her right by the Deep Magic. Aslan returns to life by Deeper Magic, and in the subsequent battle, Aslan kills the witch, ending her reign of terror.
In Prince Caspian, 1,300 years later, Nikabrik (a dwarf), a hag, and a wer-wolf (to use Lewis's spelling) plan to bring the Witch back using black sorcery in their bid to defeat King Miraz. Caspian X and Trumpkin protest against this, stating "Wasn't she a tyrant ten times worse than Miraz?". Their plan backfires and they are killed in a fight by Caspian and his allies.
Voyage of the Dawn TreaderEdit
The Witch does not appear in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though the stone knife she used to kill Aslan at the Stone Table is found on Ramandu's island by three of the Seven Great Lords of Narnia. Disagreeing on what course to take, one of them took the knife and tried to use it against the other lords, causing them to fall into an enchanted sleep.
The Silver ChairEdit
In The Silver Chair, 1,356 years after the event of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, she is called one of the "Northern Witches", along with the Lady of the Green Kirtle, who Glimfeather (the Owl) speculates may be "of the same crew" as the White Witch, though Jadis was the only survivor of Charn.
In her own dominion, Charn, Jadis is formidable; but she finds her magic largely useless in other worlds. She eventually strengthens her powers and usurps the throne of Narnia, using her magic to cast the land into perpetual winter. Her most feared weapon is her wand, whose magic is capable of turning people into stone. The petrified remains of her enemies decorate the halls of her castle.
An extraordinarily beautiful, tall and imposing woman, Jadis' beauty enchants Digory Kirke, Andrew Ketterley and Edmund Pevensie on first encounters. She is also physically powerful and amazonian, capable of breaking iron with her bare hands and lifting human beings off their feet. Unlike her magic, she retains her superhuman strength in other worlds (except in the Wood between the Worlds). She is seven feet tall, as were all members of the Royal Family of Charn, and once she has eaten the Fruit of Everlasting Life, her skin becomes as white as paper. A natural-born sorceress and a cunning strategist, Jadis is arrogant and cruel, considering herself above all rules and viewing others as tools to be used or obstacles to be demolished. Her callousness is most clearly demonstrated when she uses the Deplorable Word in Charn to vanquish her sister, even though the Word would eradicate all life in that world but her own. She prefers to destroy that entire world than submit to her sister's authority, and afterwards shows a remorseless pride in her actions.
White Witch's ArmyEdit
The White Witch's Narnian minions include Wolves, Black Dwarves, Giants, Werewolves, Tree Spirits that are on her side, Ghouls, Boggles, Ogres, Minotaurs, Cruels, Hags, Spectres, People of the Toadstools, Incubi, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Orknies, Sprites, Wooses, Ettins, Nymphs of Poisonous Plants, Giant Bats, Vultures, Evil Apes, a Dragon/Bull creature, a Crow-Footed Goblin, a Vulture/Dragon/Man creature, and creatures that according to C.S. Lewis are 'so horrible that if I told you, your parents probably wouldn't let you read this book.'
The various movie versions add other creatures to her army:
- In the 1979 animated movie, there are many bizarre-looking monsters in addition ranging from some trolls, a Bigfoot-like creature, an Ostrich-like creature, some Pig Men, a bat-winged bird, a hippopotamus-headed creature (referred to by some fans as "Hippotaurs"), a porcupine-like creature, a gorilla-like creature, something that appears to be a big pink slug with arms, a humanoid alligator, something that looks like a blue caveman, numerous horned things, some creatures that appear ghoulish, some creatures that appear impish, some creatures that resemble gargoyles, some creatures that resemble warlocks, and some creatures that resemble dragon-like creatures.
- In the 1988 miniseries, Lichs, Lizard Men, something that looks like a Barbarian, a black-armored Samurai, and a Bat Woman are seen in her army.
- In the 2005 movie, White Tigers, Goblins, Harpies, Cyclopes, and some creatures that looked like Gnolls are also in her army. There was also two Polar Bears who pulled her chariot and the Minoboars and Ankle-Slicers were created for the movie. In concept art for the movie, Gorgons, Manticores and Succubi were intended for the White Witch's army.
Origins of conceptionEdit
Lewis almost certainly based Jadis on Rider Haggard's She: in a review of that novel Lewis simultaneously expresses his fascination with the story and his dislike of the character. Like Jadis, "She" is compellingly beautiful, is initiated in occult knowledge, seeks immortal life through unlawful means and claims absolute superiority to the demands of morality. Haggard's later book She and Allan sometimes calls her "the white witch".
For the name 'Jadis', Lewis may have taken the French word jadisTemplate:Fact (Template:IPA2), which means "of old" or "once upon a time" — a customary opening in French fairy tales. It has also been suggested that the source may have been the Turkish word cadı Template:IPA2Template:Dubious which means "witch". (Compare also Persian جادو jâdu 'witchcraft', جادوگر jâdugar 'witch'.) Though not closely resembling "Jadis" in pronunciation, this word might be another of Lewis's Turkish imports, like aslan (lion) and tash (stone).
The voice of Jadis was provided by Elizabeth Counsell in Focus on the Family's radio drama versions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew. (Later she made a cameo as a lamb in The Last Battle.)
American actress Beth Porter provided the voice of the White Witch for the 1979 animated television adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (for the British release, Sheila Hancock's voice was dubbed in). In that version, Aslan lunges towards the White Witch and she disappears in a cloud of smoke
In the 1988 BBC miniseries The Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch was played by Barbara Kellerman. In a later episode, Kellerman was cast in the role as the Lady of the Green Kirtle, as the limited budget of the miniseries caused the BBC to re-use several other actors and actresses in multiple roles. Due to this, some readers believe that the White Witch and Green Lady are the same person, especially due to a lack of back story given to the Green Lady. However, this was never explicitly supported in Lewis's writings. After her wand was broken, she ran up the ravine only for Aslan to arrive and roar enough for the ground to shake and the White Witch to lose her balance and fall.
Theatrical film seriesEdit
In the 2005 Walt Disney Pictures feature film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, she was portrayed by British actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton's performance won particular acclaim among fans and critics. BBC film critic Stella Papamichael wrote:
Tilda Swinton was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain for her performance as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Swinton reprised her role as the White Witch in the 2008 sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In a scene exclusive to the film, the hag, werewolf and dwarf that planned to resurrect The White Witch in the novel manage to conjure up an apparition of her within a mystical wall of ice. The White Witch says that she needs a drop of "Adam's blood" to live again, which she tries to coax from Caspian and then from Peter with promises of lending her great powers to their cause against King Miraz once she is made whole. However, Edmund shatters the ice before the Witch can obtain the drop of blood, and she is sent back into oblivion.
- In the parody film Epic Movie the main antagonist is the White Bitch of Gnarnia, a parody of Jadis portrayed by Jennifer Coolidge.
- Jadis The White Witch appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Robot Chicken's Half-Assed Christmas Special" voiced by Emma Caulfield. Her sleigh happens upon the nerd who kills Mr. Tumnus and she invites him to her palace. She then entices him to go on a mission to eliminate Aslan.
- In the episode 'Flood' in the first series of the British sit-com The Young Ones the violent punk Vyvyan (Adrian Edmundson) hides in a wardrobe and finds himself in an obvious parody of Lewis's Narnia. Here he meets a White Witch who offers him some Turkish Delight, which he refuses in favour of a kebab. He then tries to pick a fight with her dwarf.
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