Study Guide

The Dust Witch in Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury

The Dust Witch

Talk about creepy. Although blind, the Dust Witch is arguably the carnival's most powerful villain. Described as having "swamp breath," "stitch-wrinkled eyes," "mummy-linen ears," and a "dry-rivulet river-sand brow" (44.31), the Witch has supernatural powers equal to her terrifying appearance. Among other talents, she can feel souls and emotions, slow the beating of the human heart, and control the senses and movements of other people. With such abilities, she is most frequently deployed on the carnival's behalf. You can think of her as Mr. Dark's right-hand man.

As evil as she appears, however, we'll admit to feeling a smidgeon of sympathy for her towards the end when Mr. Dark forced her to be at the receiving end of a rifle. Although she pleads with him not to make her do it, Mr. Dark twists her image on his wrist and puts her in some serious pain. It definitely makes us wonder about other times the carnival freaks might have tried to question Mr. Dark's authority, and, more importantly, it reminds us that all the freaks were once humans lured under the control of Mr. Dark and the carnival. Who did this witch used to be? Does she really deserve this fate? Things always get more interesting when the roles of heroes and villains are complicated this way, and Bradbury does just that with this character.