Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Mr. Dahl is tough on parents. I guess this puts him in league with the folks at Disney. The Disney people - really not Mommy friendly. Give it some thought... Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle (of Beauty & the Beast), Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pinocchio, Jasmine... either no mothers or dead mothers. Dahl has Sophie, the orphan in the BFG, James and the Giant Peach has James' parents eaten by a rhinoceros, and here, we have our anonymous narrator whose parents die in a car crash, leaving our protagonist without a scratch, or a family.

Our young hero is left with his grandmother who teaches him about the witches. She makes her point by giving him details about the disappearance of children at the hands of witches. Then he learns how to recognize a witch and that's important because the act of disappearing children is mission one, top priority for a witch. In fact, their motto holds that if they don't rid the world of at least one child a week, they get pretty cranky. I may have been paraphrasing a little there, but you get the idea.

Narrator boy and Granny go to live in England as per instructions in the parents' Will. He's very careful to try spotting witches and keep out of their clutches and he even has a narrow miss one day while outside playing. Not long after the grandmother falls seriously ill. She recovers, but the doctor doesn't think it's a good idea for the pair to return to Norway for the summer holiday, instead they go to an English resort.

Our narrator, the grandmother and the boy's two pet white mice settle in at the hotel for their holiday by the sea. While looking for a hidden place to train his mice and avoid detection of the hotel staff, he winds up hiding in a ballroom reserved for a conference for a group dedicated to preventing cruelty to children. The women pour into the room, trapping the boy in his hiding place. When the women begin their discussions, locked into their ballroom, they let down their hair, so to speak. Actually they remove their hair, because all witches are really bald. They remove their disguises, revealing themselves to be the hairless, toeless, witches of England, and the worldwide chief witch.

The chief witch, as it turns out, is not happy with how slow going the "child a week" plan is working. She has come up with a way to get rid of every child in England. Our little hero overhears the plan, just before he is discovered. The witches use their potion on him and turn him into a mouse. He must then convince his grandmother of what happened and come up with a plan to destroy the witches and save the children of England.

The Witches is much darker than any of the other Dahl books I've read. This is on the ALA list, but I don't think it's any worse than a lot of the children's fiction out there. The happy ending here is not that terribly happy. Not to mention that Dahl, obviously winking as he does so, makes a case for avoiding hygiene. Witches recognize the smell of children, but the dirtier they get, the more that smell is covered and the less likely that a witch will smell them. The man knows his audience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your subconscious mind is a powerful force. It can be an un-defeatable ally or a dangerous foe! It is a powerful force of nature that can be harnessed and made to work for us or it can be a wild beast that runs riot with our lives.
How powerful is 'powerful'?

Take the first Atomic Bomb - it could lay waste to an entire city in seconds. Or the gravitational pull of the Sun which stops our tiny planet from hurtling into space. Imagine the power of a black hole - that region of spacetime from which nothing can escape not even light travelling at 186 thousand miles a second. The Universe is full of powerful forces. Yet, all these wondrous things pale into insignificance when compared to the power of the subconscious mind.

The subconscious part of your mind is that part which regulates your heartbeat, lungs, digestive system and everything else in your body. It directs the inner workings of your body and such things as (what biologists call) 'machines' - tiny living cells that are composed of motors, drive-shafts and propellers - seriously!!! There is mounting evidence that the cells in our bodies have memory and that our very DNA is coded with memories of our ancestors. As well as having full control of all these functions and more your subconscious also retains all the thoughts, experiences and emotions you have ever felt. It regulates the most complicated mechanism in the unknown Universe - your body - and it can calculate the trajectory of multiple moving objects while supplying you with the words necessary to debate an issue while controlling a complex task of activities such as driving a car!
These tasks alone show how powerful the subconscious mind is. But it is much more powerful than that!

The truth is: No-one knows the limits of the subconscious mind's power!

Tell yourself that you will wake up at 6 a.m. and chances are you will awake. Go to a crowed party and through a mass of voices you will hear someone at the other side of the room mention your name! Set a problem aside and miraculously, out of nowhere, the answer comes while you are involved in another task. It recreates situations in your life that correspond to your beliefs. Time and time again you find yourself in the same situations, with similar partners, in almost identical jobs. Like a wheel your subconscious mind creates situations that bring your life back to the same spot.
Likewise it can totally transform your life - even overnight! It can bring you new situations, life experiences, luxuries and even people.

However, it is like a na�ve child or a better analogy is that of a computer. It believes everything that you tell it. Your conscious mind is the gatekeeper. Anything you think with complete faith is immediately past to the subconscious mind - which it then takes as literal fact. There will be no arguments because it has no discriminating capabilities.
Although your subconscious mind is more powerful than you can possibly imagine it is a mere servant. It is at your disposal. YOU are in charge. It acts just like a computer and like every computer it needs software to run. So if you do not program it then someone else will! You are constantly being bombarded with software programs for the mind every minute of everyday. Buy this product and you will look slim, drive this car and you will seem sexy, drink this potion and you will feel more vibrant about life. You are told what to buy and when to buy it, when you are too young to do a thing and when you are too old. You are told what is possible and what is not. Snap out of it!
Take back your control over mind and body. You were born with the most powerful computer system known to man - a bio-computer that regulates a sophisticated, highly flexible, changeable, self repairing vehicle. You are amazing, a true miracle. If you bought a new top of the range diesel Mercedes would you let Joe or Sue down the road fill it up with petrol?
Begin to think for yourself. Who told you that you could not achieve your dreams? Do you believe it? Who told you that you were too fat, too skinny, too stupid, too smart, too young or too old?

Does it matter?

No! Because you are and always have been in total control. Change your thinking and you will change your subconscious beliefs. Change your subconscious beliefs and you will change your life. hypnosis