Villains, in modern literature, are not scary. They are complex and misunderstood with detail poured into them to give them a personality and purpose. Therefore, breaking the mold of the typical good and evil conflict and making them more real, more human.
And by fleshing out their personality and giving them a reason for their evilness, it makes them understandable and, in some instances, relatable. And once we find pieces of our personality in them, we fall in love with them, thus removing the fear factor. And when we don’t fear the villain, we cannot in true form, root for the hero to win, and sometimes even want them to fail.
But there are very few villains, who truly prove what it’s like to be bad and not just for the sake of it. These villains are not created for the reader to sympathize with them. The author wants you to hate them. Fear them and support the hero in defeating them.
And C.S Lewis‘ Jadis the White Witch falls into that category perfectly. But what makes her scary? What is it that in the true sense makes her a villain? But before delving deep let’s look at her backstory…
She Destroys Her Entire World…
She enters the series in the first book of Narnia; the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but that is just the concluding chapter of her story. Her tale begins, far back in the world of Charn, where her family ruled it as a worldwide empire.
While in Charn she and her sister fell into a political struggle to control the empire, and they made a pact not to use magic, while Jadis claimed it was her sister who broke the agreement first. Her next actions aren’t justifiable.
When facing defeat at the hand of her sister, she uses the deplorable word, a forbidden spell of her ancestor, capable of wiping every living being except the caster, destroying her entire world, and becoming the only survivor.
The First Evil to Corrupt Narnia…
After bringing ruin to her world she sets her sights on Narnia and becomes the first evil to set foot in Narnia. Although Aslan manages to keep her away from Narnia for a good 900 years by planting the protection tree, she never gives up, planning in the dark, gathering her army, and becoming more powerful in witchcraft. And when the tree of protection falls, she makes her moves.
100 Years Winter…
She freezes Narnia for a hundred years, obliterating all four seasons, and banning Christmas. She sets herself as the absolute authority demolishing all types of the laws and destroying anyone who stands against her, turning them into stones and decorating her palace with their statues.
Her physical strength
Not only adept at magic, Jadis also possesses superhuman strength, lifting people cleaning off the ground, ripping lamppost, etc. She also has a deep knowledge of magic. She is also excellent at knife fighting and swordsmanship, leading her army in battles.
But what makes her scary?
Jadis is an exceptional villain, she is cunning, knowledgeable, a warrior, and very powerful magic at her side. And when you combine these extraordinary skills with traits like, selfishness, pride, cruelty, and dishonesty, you make a volatile personality of whom no good can be expected, and with lack of empathy they would be the truest form of villain you can produce, and there is no redemption for them.
And a villain who can’t be redeemed is the true evil.