White Witch: Wikis


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Narnia character
Jadis, the White Witch. Art by Leo and Diane Dillon.
Jadis, the White Witch
Race Humanoid (Northern Witch)– (rumoured by opponents to be half Jinn, half Giant)
Nation Charn
Gender Female
Title Her Imperial Majesty, Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, Empress of the Lone Islands (Former: Her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Empress of Charn)
Birthplace presumably Charn
Family Royal family of Charn
Major character in
The Magician's Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Portrayals in adaptations
1988 BBC miniseries: Barbara Kellerman
2005 Walden/Disney film: Tilda Swinton
2008 Walden/Disney film: Tilda Swinton

Jadis, commonly known as the White Witch, is the main villain of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published book in C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series, and the second chronologically. Jadis also appears at length in The Magician's Nephew, which concerns her origins and the origins of Narnia. She is the Witch who froze Narnia in the Hundred Years Winter.

A short biographical sketch added to the books by later editors has led some readers to conclude that Jadis and the Lady of the Green Kirtle from The Silver Chair are the same person; but there is no suggestion to that effect in Lewis's writing.


Character history

The White Witch was born before the creation of Narnia and died in battle in Narnian year 1000.

The Magician's Nephew

In The Magician's Nephew, Jadis is revealed to be a native of Charn, a different world entirely from Narnia. She is descended from a long line of kings and queens. This line began well, with honorable, decent-hearted people, but grew evil and malevolent over many generations. Charn's final queen, Jadis, a powerful sorceress, fought against her sister in a bloody war which almost ended in her own defeat. Rather than submit to her sister, Jadis spoke the Deplorable Word and left Charn devoid of life. She passes through the Wood between the Worlds, an endless forest filled with pools of water that act as portals to other worlds, including the worlds of Earth and Narnia. Charn is destroyed so utterly that when Jadis leaves its pool in the Wood, the pool dries to nothing. While in the Wood, she appears to lose health, strength and magical ability. Through the reckless actions of Digory Kirke, Jadis is transported to the world of Narnia at its creation, and she immediately starts scheming to become its mistress. She eats the Fruit of Everlasting Life, acquiring immortality and her white-colored skin; she then travels to the North to develop her magic anew, becoming the first of the "Northern Witches".

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By the time of the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, set 1000 Narnian years after the events of The Magician's Nephew, Jadis has usurped power over Narnia, having magically forced the land into an "endless winter" during her reign, which as the book opens had lasted for a 100 years. Though it is always winter, she prevents Christmas from ever coming. The White Witch's Narnian minions include Wolves, Black Dwarves, Giants, Werewolves, Tree Spirits that are on her side, Ghouls, Boggles, Ogres, Minotaurs, Cruels, Hags, Spectres, People of the Toadstools, Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Orknies, Sprites, Wooses, Ettins, Spirits of Poisonous Plants, Evil Apes, Giant Bats, Vultures, and creatures that according to C.S. Lewis are 'so horrible that if I told you, your parents probably wouldn't let you read this book.'

During her reign, the White Witch is styled "Her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, Empress of the Lone Islands". She claims that she is a human from Earth (a "daughter of Eve"), for Aslan had given "sons of Adam and daughters of Eve" dominion over all the beasts and magical creatures of Narnia. (Narnian dwarfs are not considered to be human, even though they can and do reproduce with humans; they are called "Sons of Earth".)

Although the White Witch appears human (despite her irregular skin color and abnormal height), Narnian rumor holds that she descends from Adam's first wife, Lilith, and was half-Jinn and half-giantess, and thus not even partially human. The Magician's Nephew, by contrast with this slander, recounts her origin on Charn; but whether the people of Charn are human is never addressed.

She is first mentioned in the story by Mr Tumnus the faun, who befriends Lucy Pevensie and admits that he is in the pay of the witch, who has ordered him and indeed all other Narnians that if they ever see a human in Narnia they must hand it over to her. Mr. Tumnus, who had never met a human before and hadn't known what they were like, soon realised that he couldn't find it in him to hand Lucy over to the witch, and guided her back to the Lamp Post at Lantern Waste as she returned to her own world through the wardrobe.

Mr Tumnus had told Lucy that the White Witch could turn people to stone, fearing that she would do the same to him if she found out he had met a human and not handed them over to her.

Shortly afterwards, Edmund goes into the wardrobe and encounters the Witch on her sleigh. She introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia and seduces him with Turkish Delight as well as the promise that she will make him a Prince to become King of Narnia when she dies — if he brings his siblings to visit her. When Lucy finds Edmund and recounts her visit with Tumnus, Edmund realizes that the Queen and the Witch are one and the same, but for the chance of becoming King (and also for the promise of more Turkish Delight), he is still determined to bring his siblings to her regardless.

When the four Pevensie children arrive in Narnia, they find that the Witch has had Tumnus arrested for high treason — she had found out about him disobeying her orders. The Pevensie children are taken under protection of Mr and Mrs Beaver, who tell them more about the witch and how her reign is certain to be nearin its end now that Aslan is on the move. They also tell the children that the Witch's castle is full of statues of Narnians that she has turned into stone for betraying her, and that few Narnians taken in there have ever come out again.

Edmund creeps out of their house to go and see the witch, who is furious that he has come alone, and even angrier when he tells her that Aslan is in Narnia. She sends Maugrim the wolf, chief of her secret police, to catch the children and the beavers at their house, but when Maugrim and another wolf get there they have already gone.

She makes Edmund come with her on their journey to the Stone Table, but after many miles of travelling her sleigh eventually becomes immovable the following morning as the snow melts and it becomes apparent that Aslan has destroyed her magical winter. After walking a long distance, they stop in a valley and the Witch decides to kill Edmund; but he is saved just in time by Aslan's creatures, who return him to his siblings at the Stone Table. Edmund is repentant and grateful, having come to regret joining the Witch's cause; by the time she had turned a group of animals into stone for telling her that Father Christmas had come to Narnia, he had realised just how evil she was.

Since the White Witch was the first to rebel in Narnia, by the workings of the Deep Magic she is given ownership of all traitors and the right to kill them. The White Witch favors the Stone Table for her executions, and had intended to execute Edmund there until Aslan's presence made it impossible.

When the Pevensie children arrive in Narnia via Digory's magical wardrobe, it is explained to them by Mr. Beaver that, according to an ancient prophecy, when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel as Kings and Queens of Narnia, the reign of the White Witch and the endless winter would end. Jadis is aware of the prophecy, and employs spies to tell her of any human that comes to Narnia. She has turned many Narnians to stone for failing to follow her orders. While there are other humans in the world of Narnia at the time of the first book — humans descended from the original King Frank and Queen Helen populate Archenland, Calormen, and the island kingdoms — humans are completely unknown in occupied Narnia, to the extent that the Narnians think them mythological.

The White Witch's most notorious deed, aside from uttering the Deplorable Word that destroys Charn, is killing Aslan on the Stone Table (as a surrogate for Edmund), her right by the Deep Magic. Aslan returns to life by Deeper Magic, and in the subsequent battle, Aslan kills the witch, ending her reign of terror.

Prince Caspian

In Prince Caspian, 1,300 years later, Nikabrik (a dwarf), a hag, and a wer-wolf (to use Lewis's spelling) plan to bring the Witch back using black sorcery in their bid to defeat King Miraz. Caspian X and Trumpkin protest against this, stating "Wasn't she a tyrant ten times worse than Miraz?" Their plan backfires and they are killed in a fight by Caspian and his allies.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Witch does not appear in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though the stone knife she used to kill Aslan at the Stone Table is found on Ramandu's island by three of the Seven Great Lords of Narnia. Disagreeing on what course to take, one of them took the knife and tried to use it against the other lords, causing them to fall into an enchanted sleep.

The Silver Chair

In The Silver Chair, 1,356 years after her death, Jadis is called one of the "Northern Witches", along with the Lady of the Green Kirtle. Glimfeather the Owl speculates that the Green Lady may be "of the same crew" as the White Witch. This had led to speculation by some readers that Jadis and the Lady of the Green Kirtle may be the same person. Lewis's text does not support this. (See the Lady of the Green Kirtle for further discussion.)


In her own dominion, Charn, Jadis is formidable; but she finds her magic largely useless in other worlds. She eventually strengthens her powers and usurps the throne of Narnia, using her magic to cast the land into perpetual winter. Her most feared weapon is her wand, whose magic is capable of turning people into stone. The petrified remains of her enemies decorate the halls of her castle.

An extraordinarily beautiful, tall and imposing woman, Jadis enchants Digory Kirke, Andrew Ketterley and Edmund Pevensie on first encounters. She is also physically powerful and amazonian, capable of breaking iron with her bare hands and lifting human beings off their feet. She retains her superhuman strength in other worlds (except in the Wood between the Worlds). She is seven feet tall, as were all members of the Royal Family of Charn, and once she has eaten the Fruit of Everlasting Life, her skin becomes as white as paper. A natural-born sorceress and a cunning strategist, Jadis is arrogant and cruel, considering herself above all rules and viewing others as tools to be used or obstacles to be demolished. Her callousness is most clearly demonstrated when she uses the Deplorable Word in Charn to vanquish her sister, even though the Word would eradicate all life in that world but her own. She prefers to destroy that entire world than submit to her sister's authority, and shows afterward a remorseless pride in her actions. Though her magic disappears when she leaves Charn, she manages to build it up again in Narnia's world, to become again a sorceress of formidable power.

Origins of conception

Lewis almost certainly based Jadis on Rider Haggard's She: in a review of that novel Lewis simultaneously expresses his fascination with the story and his dislike of the character.[1] Like Jadis, "She" is compellingly beautiful, is initiated in occult knowledge, seeks immortal life through unlawful means and claims absolute superiority to the demands of morality. Haggard's later book She and Allan sometimes calls her "the white witch".

Another possible source is the"The Snow Queen", the malignant ruler of the frozen north in the fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen. The corruption of Edmund can be a parallel to Kay's perversion in that same tale. The first apparition of the two characters in which they seduce both the boys have a striking resemblance, both of them were travelling in a sledge in the snow and using fur coats.

For the name Jadis, Lewis may have taken the French word jadis (pronounced [ʒaˈdis]), which means "of old" or "once upon a time"[2] — a customary opening in French fairy tales. It has also been suggested that the source may have been the Turkish word cadı [dʒaˈdɯ] which means "witch". (Compare also Persian جادو jâdu 'witchcraft', جادوگر jâdugar 'witch'.) Though not closely resembling "Jadis" in pronunciation, this word might be another of Lewis's Turkish imports, like aslan (lion) and tash (stone).



The voice of Jadis was provided by Elizabeth Counsell in Focus on the Family's radio drama versions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician's Nephew. (Later she made a cameo as a lamb in The Last Battle.)


The White Witch was originally played by Elizabeth Wallace (II) in the TV series The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe. American actress Beth Porter provided the voice of the White Witch for the 1979 animated television adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (for the British release, Sheila Hancock's voice was dubbed in). In that version, Aslan lunges towards the White Witch and she disappears in a cloud of smoke

Jadis, the White Witch, portrayed by Barbara Kellerman in the 1988 BBC miniseries The Chronicles of Narnia.

In the 1988 BBC miniseries The Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch was played by Barbara Kellerman. In a later episode, Kellerman was cast in the role as the Lady of the Green Kirtle, as the limited budget of the miniseries caused the BBC to re-use several other actors and actresses in multiple roles. Due to this, some readers believe that the White Witch and Green Lady are the same person, especially due to a lack of back story given to the Green Lady. However, this was never explicitly supported in Lewis's writings. After her wand was broken, she ran up the ravine only for Aslan to arrive and roar enough for the ground to shake and the White Witch to lose her balance and fall.

Theatrical film series

Tilda Swinton as Jadis, the White Witch. Her collar is made from Aslan's mane, taken during his sacrifice.

In the 2005 Walt Disney Pictures feature film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, she was portrayed by British actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton's performance won particular acclaim among fans and critics. BBC film critic Stella Papamichael wrote:[3]

As the cold hearted White Witch, Tilda Swinton sets the tempo for this bracing adventure. She is a pristine picture of evil, like the spectre of Nazism that forces the children out of London to the sanctuary of a country manor.

Tilda Swinton was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain for her performance as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Swinton reprised her role as the White Witch in the 2008 sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In a scene exclusive to the film, the hag, werewolf and dwarf that planned to resurrect The White Witch in the novel manage to conjure up an apparition of her within a mystical wall of ice. The White Witch says that she needs a drop of "Adam's blood" to live again, which she tries to coax from Caspian and then from Peter with promises of lending her great powers to their cause against King Miraz once she is made whole. However, Edmund shatters the ice before the Witch can obtain the drop of blood, and she is sent back into oblivion. In the book, the ritual is suggested, but not begun.

It is yet unknown whether Swinton will return to play the character in a film adaptation of The Magician's Nephew, though she has expressed interest.


  • Jadis The White Witch appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Robot Chicken's Half-Assed Christmas Special" voiced by Emma Caulfield. Her sleigh happens upon the nerd who kills Mr. Tumnus and she invites him to her palace. She then entices him to go on a mission to eliminate Aslan.
  • In the episode "Flood" in the first series of the British sit-com The Young Ones, the violent punk Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson) hides in a wardrobe and finds himself in an obvious parody of Lewis's Narnia. Here he meets a White Witch who offers him some Turkish Delight, which he refuses in favour of a kebab. He then tries to pick a fight with her dwarf.


  1. ^ "The Mythopoeic Gift of H. Rider Haggard", in Of This and Other Worlds.
  2. ^ Downing, David C. (2005). Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. Jossey-Bass. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-7879-7890-7.  
  3. ^ "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)". BBC. 2005-12-09. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2005/11/25/the_chronicles_of_narnia_2005_review.shtml. Retrieved 2006-10-17.  
  4. ^ Cast list on IMDB

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