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The Witches

The Witches

by Roald Dahl

Appearances Theme

Don't judge a book by its cover, right? The Witches sends us mixed messages in this regard. On the one hand, our main character turns into a mouse, but he's still the same great guy he always was and his Grandmamma still loves him. His looks don't matter much. On the other hand, the terrifying, ugly appearance of the witches reflects their terrifying, ugly personalities. Their looks do matter – so much, in fact, that they have to wear disguises to look like normal women. Either way, it's very clear that appearances – how people look – are very important in this book, for better or for worse.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Why is the Grand High Witch uglier than the rest of the witches?
  2. The narrator describes the appearances of the other characters, but never his own. What do you think the narrator looks like?
  3. Would our understanding of Grandmamma be different if she were described as small and frail instead of "massive" and "wide" (2.14)?
  4. Would you be more or less scared of the witches if they acted the same way but looked beautiful, like the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?
  5. Did you like the illustrations in the book? Would you have drawn any characters or scenes differently?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

They're pretty cool, but the illustrations in the book make it impossible for us to come up with our own ideas of what the characters look like.

We can't judge the witches' appearance the same way we judge normal women, because they're not even human. Maybe the witches are beautiful for their own species.

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