As I mentioned in another thread a while back, I recently took a fascinating mythology class, and one of our discussions was the role of witches and the understanding people had of them back when the brothers Grimm were compiling them. Everything in those stories was informed by cultural norms and understanding of how the world works (to some extent), especially how witches were portrayed. Here's a few of the most common beliefs about witches and their cultural origins:
1. Witches are ugly - this stems from an old belief that your appearance was a reflection of your morality. Heroes were handsome and the good princesses were beautiful because it was the fastest way to let the listener know who the good guys were. Same goes for witches; they were ugly because that was the fastest and most well-understood way to say they were the villain without outright saying they were the villain.
2. Witches are single - this stems from an old, sexist view of gender roles. Spinsters were heavily frowned upon, and often viewed as a burden by society or even as evil. So to give a fairy tale witch a husband was to instantly make her a more sympathetic character, which was certainly not an option.
3. Witches are greedy - this comes from the same viewpoint as above. Single women were viewed as a drain on society, consuming everything without giving anything back. Its why the witch in Hansel and Gretel had a house made of food but still wanted to eat the children. She ignored the good opportunities before her (marriage and a stable household) in order to consume resources other people needed. She was easily fooled, again, because of her greed blinding her to the truth of a life well-lived.
What all do you guys think of that? Any other thoughts to share?
edited for text color visibility
Edited by odalibuc, 08 November 2016 - 09:50 PM.