University Library News
Georgia State University

Witches in film and literature

Halloween is fast approaching and that brings to mind  the portrayal of witches in film and literature. The broadway musical, Wicked based on the book by Gregory Maguire and currently playing at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, is a work that takes the wicked witch of the west character from the Wizard of Oz books by Frank Baum and the movie by the same name, and reinvents the character as a misunderstood witch–much more complex than the original stereotyped character.  J.K. Rowlings also reinvents witches in the Harry Potter books. Witches (& wizards) in the books are born with special powers that can be used for good or evil. In one of the books Harry reads about the methods witches and warlocks used to protect themselves from being burned at the stake– they cast spells that protected them from the fires so that it just had the sensation of tickling their toes.  Unfortunately those accused of witchcraft in real life were often misunderstood elderly members of the community who were not able to employ J.K. Rowling’s solution for witches and warlocks. The Heretic’s Daughter, a recently published  novel, seeks to realistically portray the life of  author Kathleen Kent’s ancestor, Martha Carrier, one of 19 people hanged for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. On a lighter note, my daughters & I enjoy watching movies during the Halloween season such as Hocus Pocus in which three Salem witches are brought back to life on Halloween by a virgin (a teenager responding to a dare) with hilarious results.  The divine Miss M (Bette Midler) is wonderful as the fictious Salem witch Winnie Sanderson and the scene with cameos by Penny and Garry Marshall (Winnie thinks he is “the Master”) is priceless! Want to know more about these works? Books by Frank Baum can be found in the Carl and Gretchen Patton Children’s Collection first floor Library North (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum LN1 Juv. PZ7.B327 Lae 1986), and the movie based on this book is  in the Media Center ( Wizard of Oz Video DVD PN1995.9.M86 W59 1999).  The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent is found in the library’s general collection LN 3 PS3611 .E674 .H47 2008. The library has Son of a Witch,  the sequel to Wicked by Gregory Maguire in the Browsing Collection (Mag) and General Collection (LN 3 PS3563.A3535 S66 2005).  Check your local movie rental outlet for Hocus Pocus. Enjoy your Halloween!