Witches, Angelina Jolie, and Scapegoats
Joan of Arc
Witches in History
Women, homosexuals, and anyone who was in any way different were used as scapegoats throughout history and still are today. The classical period of witch hunts in Early Modern Europe and North America was around 1450 to 1750. This time frame spanned the Protestant reformation and the Thirty Years War. It is estimated that about 35,000 to 100,000 executions occurred. The whole perception of a witch being an old and unattractive woman with warts is one version. Another version is a very attractive young woman who seduces men. Any time there was an illness or natural disaster the people would often blame it on a witch so they could use someone as a scapegoat. Joan of Arc led the French troops into battle against the English. She was a successful military leader. She was on a mission she believed was from God to save her beloved French people. Eventually, the beloved French people handed her handed over to the English. The English burned her at the stake as a witch when she was 19 years old on May 30, 1431. She had won victories against the English. Twenty five years after her execution, Pope Callixtus IIII declared that she was not a witch and promoted her to Sainthood. However, any outspoken, politically minded woman who did not follow the conventional rules of society was putting herself at risk and still is today.
Joan of Arc
The Fairy Maleficent
Witches in Literature
Once people for the most part got a little more sophisticated, the witch hunts decreased and are only carried out in a few parts of the world today. However, people usually just find new scapegoats. When the brothers Grimm published their book of fairy tales, there were several witches throughout many of the tales. Usually they were all evil. In the original version of. "Sleeping Beauty" there were no witches. There were thirteen wise women. When a king and queen wanted to celebrate the birth of their new daughter they only had twelve plates. So, they left one of the wise women out. The wise woman who was left out stormed into the party and as an act of revenge for being hurt, she cursed the Princess. Over time the story changed so that the thirteen wise women became one evil fairy named Maleficent. In the modern adaptation of the film, "Maleficent" the fairy played by none other than Angelina Jolie is neither good nor evil but a complex character carrying a range of different emotions. This time the story is told mostly through the view of Maleficent who happens to be leading an army. As we are at war presently in the real world and in literature and movies, this theme reflects both current events and history.
She Loses Her Wings
The person who chose to play the role of the fairy Maleficent, Angelina Jolie, was seen as the other woman in the divorce of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. At the time she met Brad Pitt, he was still legally married to Jennifer Aniston even though the divorce papers had already been signed and they lived apart for a year. Brad and Jennifer were in the period of time at the end of the divorce process waiting for the divorce to be officially finalized. She was seen as a mistress and the woman everyone loved to hate. There were T-shirts being sold with one saying "Team Aniston" and the other proclaiming "Team Jolie" with the "Team Ansiton" t-shirts out numbering "Team Jolie" four to one. Angelina was and is politically motivated. For instance, she was a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. She stepped out of the traditional role that an actress was supposed to live her life by. Not everyone agrees with her political opinions or her being married to Brad Pitt as they see her as a seductress who took him away from Jenifer Aniston.
Wicked Witch of the West
Modern Literature about Witches
Another book is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It tells the story of the Wizard of Oz except it is featuring Elphaba or the character who is commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Instead of painting the character as a villain as told in the movie "The Wizard of Oz", the character is an outcast who struggles in her life much like real people who are outcasts in real life for whatever reason. The book is fantasy. However, there are definite elements of realism in it like the contrast between Glenda who is portrayed as a popular young woman and Elphaba who is a real outcast. Another book that is one of my favorites is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. The book is a romantic comedy that was also made into a movie. Yet, like the book by Gregory McGurie there are elements of realism in it like the witches being outcasts in society because they are not accepted. The stories that are told today about witches are different than the ones told hundreds of years ago because now the witches are given a voice and no longer seen as all bad but rather complicated characters with both good and bad in them.
More Modern Literature on Witches
An even more modern book on Witches is the book Spellbound by Megan Fricke. Both the books Wicked: The Life and Times of the Witch of the Wicked Witch of the West as well as Practical Magic are written as mostly light reading with some dark elements to them. However, The Crucible by Arthur Miller was a very dark book about the Salem Witchcraft trials. The book Spellbound infuses both light like the books written by Hoffman and McGuire yet is also dark like the book The Crucible because it is also based on history starting with the Crusades. The story chronicles the lives of four witches as they travel through time. The book focuses on war and trying to avoid going to war which makes sense given our modern times. While this book is fiction, there are many parts of the book which are historically accurate. It is intended as a learning tool and really makes the reader think. If you are looking for a good read, do consider this book for entertainment plus enhancing one's thinking skills.
The Best Story
What do you think is the best story?
In literature witches were left out women as was portrayed in Little Birar Rose, a woman scorned as in "Maleficent", social outcasts as in Practical Magic and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and falsely accused women as portrayed in The Crucible. Are these portrayals close to real life? Was this really what happened in the Salem Witch Craft trials? Now, that society has advanced and we are no longer living in the time of Joan of Arc, have we really gotten rid of scapegoats or have we just found new ones? Are people using Muslims as a whole as a scapegoat for war going in the world? You should read the books mentioned above including, Spellbound and think for yourself and decide for yourself.
Angelina Jolie Addressing the United Nations
Has this blog made changed your any of your opinions about world events?
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