Witches in Literature to Scare Your Pants Off – Part 1

The witch has appeared in so many literary forms, sometimes she appears as a figure of ridicule but always somebody to treat with suspicion and never to be trusted. There have been many good witches in books and films such as Glinda in the Wizard of Oz.

But most writers use the witch as a character that brings evil into a plot, to throw a black shadow over proceedings and to turn your blood cold. This can be tempered in children’s literature by stereotyping the hooked nose, missing teeth and hunched form. But when it comes to adult literature a witch can be the stuff of nightmares to literally scare your pants off.

The Weird Sisters – McBeth

The phrase double, double toil and trouble/fire burn, and cauldron bubble, has become synonymous with the word witch. And of course they are famous lines from the three witches in Shakespeare’s classical historical play McBeth.

The three sisters are depicted as very frightening and they are huddled over a steaming cauldron casting spells and trying to depict the future of McBeth. But he is troubled when they see portents of his destruction, and then pour poison in the ears of the king that changes him forever which basically kicks off a whole bloody saga.

Wicked Witch of the West – Wizard of Oz

The Wicked Witch of the West added something extraordinary to the epic tale by L Frank Baum. As a family fantasy musical the Wizard of Oz was produced by Hollywood to give family entertainment but the Wicked Witch of the West proved to be no laughing matter. 

The witch’s character is classic evil, and she epitomizes most people’s ideas of what a truly scary witch should look like. Her green skin, hideous cackle, black hat, and pointed nose were straight out of the classic how to be a witch manual.

Even her minions hate her as she is so cruel and evil, she is the greatest foil to the perfect Dorothy and her companions simply crumble at the mention of her.

Circe – The Odyssey

For our next terrifying witch we go back to classic literature and Homer’s Odyssey. Circe is the OMG of sorceresses and the perfect evil witch. Known for her expertise in potions and spells, mere mortals and even some of the gods feared her intently.

Just with a wave of her staff she could turn her enemies into animals, and her tame pack of wolves also were at her side in the dense forest that she lived in. Her part in Homer’s epic tale is important as she lures the hero into her lair, then turns his men into swine. She then enchants Homer into her bed so that he stays enchanted and lives with her for a whole year putting his quest in jeopardy.      

Circe is the classic badass witch and she is so powerful that men are like little ants to her. She has the power of control at all times and can manipulate anybody to her evil will.