“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 War that forces the children out of London to the sanctuary of a country manor.”
Jadis is depicted as a depraved, satanic temptress embodying the pain in the world. She takes orders from no one and acts very sociopathic.
Despite this, she can be deceptive when she needs to be, pretending to be kind and gentle towards Edmund Pevensie as part of her ploy to circumvent a prophecy.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, set 1000 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 hundred years. Though it is always winter, she prevents Christmas from ever coming.
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 makes two claims to buttress her authority to rule over Narnia. The first is that she is a human from Earth (a "daughter of Eve"). At the beginning of Narnia, Aslan gave "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.
The White Witch's second claim is that she is a servant of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea and rules with his blessing. This is at best a half-truth: she is the first to rebel in Narnia, and by the workings of the Deep Magic she is given ownership of all traitors and the right to kill them. For this reason, Mr. Beaver characterizes her as the Emperor's hangman (though Aslan rebukes him for saying this). The White Witch favors the Stone Table for her executions.
When the Pevensie children arrive in Narnia via Digory's magical wardrobe, it is explained to them 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. 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.
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 when they are killed in a fight with Caspian and his allies.
Tilda Swinton reprises her role as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In a scene exclusive to the movie, the trio that planned to resurrect the Witch in the novel manage to conjure up an apparition of her form behind a mythical wall of ice. The Witch says that she needs a drop of blood from a son of Adam to release her entirely, which she tries to take from Caspian and then Peter. However, Edmund shatters the ice before the Witch can be fully released. It is unknown yet whether Swinton will return to play the character in the film adaptations of The Magician's Nephew or The Silver Chair.
Powers and abilities
Jadis is an incredibly powerful sorceress - the most powerful example of Charn's people - and possesses an extraordinary variety of magical powers. She finds the majority of her powers widely useless on certain worlds - except for her supreme beauty and physical strength - but is still able to adapt to her surroundings and develop brand new powers in the process:
- Cryokinesis: Jadis has divine control and authority over ice, cold and snow. She is capable of holding Narnia in an unbreakable and eternal winter for more than a hundred years, and even capable of constructing an enormous palace entirely out of ice. She is also immune to freezing temperatures. She is also capable of creating enormous blizzards and snowstorms with relative ease.
- Frigiokinesis: She is capable of - using her wand - turning living things to stone. This is not her most powerful trait, but it is her signature attack. Once inflicted, the power of the wand cannot be reversed by anyone, except for Aslan.
- The Deplorable Word: Jadis's most terrifying ability is her knowledge of the Deplorable Word. This Word is incredibly powerful, and will effectively kill every single living creature on the planet it is being spoken on - the only person who is unaffected by the Word is the person who made the incantation.
- Telekinesis: Jadis is naturally capable of manipulating objects without physically touching them. She is also capable of utterly reducing objects to dust.
- Immortality: After eating an Apple from the Tree of Youth, Jadis was changed from having the longevity of her species to having complete immortality. Even if her body is destroyed, her embodiment will ultimately survive.
- Preservation: Jadis has the unique ability to paralyse herself completely, sustaining her age, powers and physical condition unbreakably for an infinite amount of time.
- Beauty: Jadis is incalculably beautiful, and any male creature who lays eyes on her will view her as the most beautiful creature that individual has ever seen. Females, however, are understandably immune to this charisma.
- Telepathy: She is capable of reading and controlling the minds of others
- Creature control: She has utter control and authority over evil creatures such as Minotaurs, Wolves and Dwarves. This is enough to create an army for herself.
- Superhuman strength: Jadis is incredibly strong. It is her physical strength that she can retain in other worlds. She can rip lampposts from the ground, deliver bone-breaking blows during fights, and lift people cleanly off the ground and throw them through the air over huge distances.
- Master swordswoman: Jadis is an incredibly talented warrior - she has survived hundreds of wars on Charn, honing her skills on the battlefield. During the Battle of Beruna, she effortlessly defeated every single opponent that she faced during the conflict with complete ease, even the extremely skilled Oreius. People may argue that this particular battle progress was due to her possessing a wand, but later when Edmund destroys the Wand, Jadis takes his sword along with her own and shows extraordinary proficiency with these weapons. In her duel with Peter, she completely outmatches him several times throughout the duel. It must be said that, up until Aslan appeared in the battle, Jadis was basically toying with him, never truly attempting to kill him but showing off her superior skill. However, when Aslan enters the battle, Jadis actually tries to kill him and comes close to doing so, but Aslan saves Peter just in time.
- Supreme reflexes/speed: She has superhuman reflexes - when Edmund destroys her wand, she reacts quickly to recover from the horror of its destruction and overpowers and stabs him.
Behind the Scenes
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
- As revealed in the prequel book The Magician's Nephew, Jadis actually hails from a world called Charn, in which she was the ruler. After killing every denizen of the world with the Deplorable Word, she placed herself under a magical sleep and rested until Digory (the future Professor Kirk) accidentally freed her. He and his friend Polly accidentally took her to their world, which she tried to conquer, and eventually the just-born Narnia.
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