“A different kind of witch” : rewriting the witch in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. (2016)
AuthorsRobinson, Rebecca Anne Forbesshow all
A being both real and fantastical, the witch is a tricky figure to pin down. Indeed, mention the word ‘witch’ to almost anyone today and they are likely to imagine a number of different figures, from cruel, ugly, old women dressed all in black to young, beautiful, kindly blondes. While the first part of this thesis will examine such stereotypes of the witch (for so these figures are) in terms of a wider examination of the witch and how this being has been represented over the centuries, the main focus of this thesis are the witch characters of the late great Sir Terry Pratchett’s (1948-2015) witch sub-series of Discworld fantasy novels. Through an analysis of these characters I will argue that, although the witches of the Disc may initially seem to conform to the various dominant witch stereotypes I identified earlier, Pratchett consistently overturns or rejects these stereotypes and, in so doing, writes into being a new type of witch: a powerful, heroic, moral being whose empowered status marks Pratchett out as a feminist in-line with the many others who, in recent years, have also attempted to rewrite the witch. However, where the witches of this latter set of writers and theorists often fall short in feminist terms, I argue that Pratchett succeeds to the extent that he could be said to have gone too far – in his focus on empowering the witches of the Disc, not only does Pratchett end up reducing his male wizards as characters, but he also renders them superfluous.