Wednesday, 10 August 2011

TOP FIVE: Witches and bitches

Recently I was sitting in the cinema watching Harry Potter 7 pt2, minding my own business and softly weeping. Unfortunately I was sitting in front of a woman who thought that it would be okay to talk (at a normal volume) throughout the film. She took it upon herself to provide information,

Woman: 'Helena Bonham Carter'. 
My brain: YES, I KNOW IT IS 

to ask questions,

Woman: 'who's Severus?' 
My brain: SNAPE! That is why Dumbledore said 'Fetch me Severus' and then SNAPE TURNED UP!

to explain what was going on, 

Woman: 'that's a part of his soul.' 
My brain: NO. It is not part of his soul. It is a snitch. WHY ARE YOU HERE?? 

and finally to direct the actors 

(in Harry's 'King's Cross' chat with Dumbledore) Woman:  'Get on the train!' 
My brain: I hate you.

So after I'd resisted accidentally smacking her with my popcorn box or fist, I got to thinking. First I thought that people who don't know/like Harry Potter shouldn't be let in. Then I thought about women I hate. (Don't worry, I'll be sure to do posts about my most hated men, children and animals too, just to be fair.) So this is my top five bitches in books. These ladies would be far worse to be sitting in front of in the cinema, as they would not only talk through the film, they would probably murder you.

1. Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Now there was some stiff competition for Harry Potter bitch, mainly from Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix was certainly supremely evil and upset me a great deal by continually killing people I liked. She is also the scariest lego character ever --->

But Umbridge was someone that made me want to actually run into the book and scream I HATE YOU SO MUCH and knock over everything on her desk and pull her hair. It is pretty much the same feeling that I have about commuters when I imagine running down the carriage and batting their briefcases out of their hands.

For those that don't know, Dolores Umbridge was first a Ministry of Magic employee, who becomes Defence against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, later making herself Hogwarts High Inquisitor and then Headmistress. She attempts to root out any opposition to the Ministry (as she sees it) with a series of oppressive 'educational decrees' and sadistic punishments. She is later seen merrily heading up part of a fascist regime aimed at rooting out muggles.

I think it's the combination of her pink fluffy cardigans, sweet little girl's voice and the 'hem hem' cough she does, with the fact that she's committing sadistic acts of cruelty. And the most infuriating thing is that she does everything 'legally' because she's made Educational Decree twelvety million. Although I am not sure it is ever legal to make a student write 'I must not tell lies' in their own blood with a quill that scratches the words into the backs of their hands...

What a bitch moment: I really took umbrage at Umbridge when she tried to send away poor mad Professor Trelawney for failing her teaching inspections. How could she do that to lovely Emma Thompson with her big eyes??

2. Mrs Coulter from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Here's another one who smiles sweetly and pretends to be all nice and then starts chopping off children's souls. Mrs Coulter came third in the BigBadRead poll behind Lord Voldemort and Sauron from Lord of the Rings, so that makes her pretty damn evil.

 Marisa Coulter is heroine Lyra's mother. She is the head of the General Oblation Board (Gobblers), whose main activity is kidnapping children and experimenting on them to try and stop them attracting 'dust' (original sin).

Like all good bitches, Mrs Coulter is happy to torture people and is accompanied by an evil monkey. She does seem quite fond of Lyra (good really, to like your own daughter) and so loses a few evil points there. But she quickly makes them back with the whole silver guillotine and helping put children in a camp to be experimented on.

What a bitch moment: Er that will be when she tortures Lena the witch for information about Lyra and then leaves her to die. What a meanie.

3. The Grand High Witch from The Witches by Roald Dahl

Roald's witches in general are quite spectacularly evil. They are pretty scary when you see them with their itchy scalps, toeless feet and their claws out, but perhaps even more scary when you think of them going round looking just like nice, normal women (albeit normal women that go round sniffing children).

The Grand High Witch has all the standard witch features, plus the ability to burn people with her eyes and a rotten face.  All witches are determined to rid the world of children, but it is she who comes up with the methods and arranges it all from her big castle in Norway. Her grand high plan is to turn every child in England into a mouse by hiding a magic formula in chocolate.

She's pretty scary in the film version too, but I am afraid I will not allow you to watch the film unless you agree to turn it off just before the end because they CHANGED THE ENDING.

What a bitch moment: When she 'fries' a witch who talks back to her during the meeting with beams from her eyes, turning her to ashes. Obviously better to fry a witch than a non-witch, but BLOODY SCARY. In fact, 'A stupid witch who answers back must burn until her bones are black' is probably the only time I've been scared by poetry.

4. Mrs Danvers from Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

It's what you always worry about when you start going out with someone new - that he's got an evil housekeeper who's obsessed with his dead wife and want to get rid of you. No? Well, you could always pretend he does, just to make the relationship a bit more dramatic. (You might end up getting dumped for 'being mental').

Unfortunately for the new Mrs de Winter, evil housekeeper Mrs Danvers is very much real. Max de Winter's first wife, Rebecca, died recently and Mrs D is not impressed at her mistress being replaced. She does everything she can to undermine wife no.2, going on and on about how wonderful Rebecca was and convincing new wife that Max is still in love with dead wife.

She also lurks about in quite a creepy way and doesn't seem to have much of a concept of personal space: 

What a bitch moment: When she suggests that Mrs de Winter wears a dress to the ball, knowing that it's the same one that Rebecca wore to the ball the year before. Obviously Max is a tiny bit freaked out to see his new wife dressed up as his old dead one. 

5. Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

There had to be a mention of Mr Darcy's awful aunt. Lady Catherine is the ultimate rich bitch. Armed with her sickly daughter, Anne, who she is determined will marry Darcy, she looks down on most people, but particularly Elizabeth Bennet, perhaps because she sees that Darcy might fancy Lizzie and forget that he's supposed to marry Sicky.

She tries to show Lizzie up on social occasions and point out everything that is wrong with her family. In the BBC version (or as I like to call it, the only version) she is quite good at doing an impression of a pissed off bulldog.

What a bitch moment: Lady C turns up at the Bennets' house, informing Lizzie that a match between her and Darcy would be impossible and demanding Lizzie promises not to pursue him. In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies she challenges Lizzie to a fight to the death. (Lizzie defeats her team of ninjas and then spares Lady Catherine's life). This scene is a stand and start clapping scene, with and without zombies. Get ready to punch the air:

Now it's your turn - who do you hate?? Comment away!


  1. Brilliant post! :D Very good list, I have to agree with it. For that P&P film, of which we shall not speak, I was disappointed with the Lizzie/Lady C confrontation. It lacked the oomph that it has in '95. Lizzie '05 is too meek and Lady C isn't bitchy enough. Thank you, BBC, for doing it properly!

    I would've gone potty if I was in the same cinema with that woman, btw. Horrid! Sure, she might have some sort of mental disorder that makes her talk aloud in the cinema, but it doesn't mean you need to just sit there and take it.

  2. Hi Traxy,
    I did go a bit potty! I think the problem was that I was in the town where I grew up, where there are a lot of rich old ladies who think that everyone wants to hear their opinions.

    So glad I have another member of the P&P'95 army! Much more oomph and THAT moment at the piano!