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Halloween 2015

Villainesses


BY CAROL STARKEY

nce upon a time,” said Tanith Lee in White as Snow, “fairy tales were told to audiences of young and old alike. It is only in the last century that such tales were deemed fit only for small children, stripped of much of their original complexity, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight.”

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In the past few years, there have been many movie retellings of fairy tales. Walt Disney started retelling fairy tales in 1937 with the release of Snow White, and while parts of Disney’s animated movies examine the scarier parts of some of these tales, they’re still pretty tame compared to the original Grimm tales. Even more modern movies, from Jack the Giant Slayer to 2015’s Cinderella typically follow a common formula: there’s a good guy, bad guy, a conflict, probably a love interest, and good wins the day. The good guy and the bad guy are clear from the start and everyone lives happily ever after. The original Grimm stories weren’t as black and white. Oftentimes the prince was just as


base a character as the ogre or witch. Disney’s Maleficent explores that gritty reality. Maleficent, a fairy, lives in the magical realm of the Moors. She befriends a human boy, Stefan, and as the years pass, that friendship deepens into love. At sixteen, they share a kiss. But as Stefan grows into a man, life’s cares pull him away from Maleficent. Henry, king of the human domain, attempts to conquer the Moors, but he and his soldiers are no match for the inhabitants’ magic. The king is nearly killed and declares that the man who kills the fairy will be the next king. When they were children, Stefan and Maleficent had good hearts. Maleficent cared for the Moors, and though humans were not allowed, when a lonely boy wandered in, she became his friend. At the end of their first meeting, they shook hands, and Stefan’s iron ring burned Maleficent. He threw it far away with no hesitation. As a boy, all he wanted was a friend and a better life for himself. That little boy grew up into a power hungry man. At the king’s declaration, Stefan goes back to the Moors under guise of warning Maleficent of the king’s anger. Instead, he drugs her and cuts off her wings with an iron chain. He takes the wings to the king as proof that he killed the fairy, and when the king dies, Stefan takes the throne. He still has Maleficent’s wings and he places them in a cage from which they cannot escape.

After Stefan betrays and mutilates Maleficent, she grows cold and bitter. She takes control of a crow, turning him from crow to man to dog to horse and back again with no regard for his wishes. When King Stefan has a daughter, Maleficent goes to the castle. All the bitterness and hate she feels for Stefan comes out when she curses the baby. Princess Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and fall into a death-like sleep from which she will never waken. Stefan pleads for mercy. Maleficent coldly tells him to ask again. He kneels and begs for mercy. She tells him that the girl will only awaken with true love’s kiss, fully believing that no such thing exists. The child is left in the care of three bumbling fairies, but Maleficent quickly takes charge of the child in secret, feeding her as a baby and saving her life as a toddler. She calls the child Beasty and as the princess grows, Maleficent becomes fond of her. Ultimately, this movie is about love. If Stefan had really loved Maleficent, he would never have taken her wings. If Maleficent had not grown to love Aurora, she could never have been redeemed. This film makes me consider Christ’s love for me. He loved me when I was unlovable. He showed that love to me by dying on the cross. If I have accepted that love, His love should shine through me. At the end of the movie, the Moors becomes the beautiful, happy place it used to be. Maleficent loves again, and that love shines forth. ♥

IN THIS ISSUE: Maleficent Page 2 The Witch, Into the Woods Page 4 Gertrude, Hamlet Page 6 Morgana, Merlin Page 10 Asaj Ventress, Star Wars Page 12 Hexenbiests, Grimm Page 14 Lady Macbeth, Macbeth Page 16 Catherine de’ Medeici, La Reine Margot Page 18 Wicked Witch of the West, Oz Page 20 Ungit, Till We Have Faces Page 24 Coming Soon: The Renaissance (Nov / Dec 2015) Please turn to the back cover to learn how you can contribute. © Charity’s Place. No copyright infringement intended. All written content is original and may not be reproduced without written consent. Disclaimer: the opinions of the individual writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Charity’s Place or Femnista; the stories and entertainment mentioned is not always appropriate viewing for all ages. Visit charitysplace.com for future issues, information, movie reviews, and more. 3


BY CHARITY BISHOP

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f ever there was a musical laced with double meaning, it is Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a story that takes fairy tale tropes and turns them on their head with a dramatic shift in tone in the second act. The first half entwines the lives of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (and the Beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood, and a Baker and his Wife, all venturing into “the woods,” where each will face new aspects of their inner nature and their fears (and sometimes hidden desires), before reaping the dark consequences of their actions. The driving villainous force in the story is the Witch, who stole away Rapunzel, and set the curse of barrenness upon the Baker and his wife, whose stolen beans cursed her with hideousness, and who wants “the curse reversed.” She promises to remove her curse from the Baker if he and his Wife get all the ingredients for a special potion—which means scamming Jack of his cow (he uses the beans to steal from a giantess), stealing a golden shoe from a fleeing Cindrella, nabbing golden locks from Rapunzel, and snatching the red cloak of Little Red Riding Hood. The little girl tangles with the Wolf, nearly to her own downfall (and most certainly to his!). I was shocked upon my first viewing of the original musical, since its themes are very dark and adult in nature; Sondheim crafted an intelligent, morally ambiguous storyline where there is no “happily ever after” … as

marital infidelity, death, and loss crash in upon the “heroes,” who are faced with the repercussions of their own amoral and selfish actions. Some live, others die; all point fingers at one another for their problems and refuse to accept any blame; heroes become murderers, because, as the Witch points out, all their actions were ultimately selfish. “You’re all so nice,” she sneers when the Baker, Cinderella, and Riding Hood refuse to turn Jack over to the giantess to save their lives when the giantess comes seeking vengeance for the murder of her husband; “not good, just… nice. I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right!” And she is, and that’s the truly remarkable thing about the story … the witch, who makes all their lives miserable, has a better grasp of ethics than any of the so -called virtuous characters; she doesn’t choose to follow a moral code, but at least she doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what she is, unlike the others. She is completely honest about who and what she is, and has no remorse for any of her decisions until they cause her to lose Rapunzel, whom she sees as a daughter. Though burning with a desperate love to protect “her child,” the Witch cannot help her nasty nature, and in cursing Rapunzel and her price, the Witch loses her forever (in the play, Rapunzel dies crushed by the giantess; in the film she merely rides away with her prince, never to return). Sondheim understands, as does

the Witch, that the nature of good and evil can be pulled apart, that those who profess to be “good” can do evil, and those who are “evil” can do good. The Witch is the most honest of all the characters, for she accepts “the blame” and ultimately claims responsibility for all her decisions and actions. She is selfish, scheming, and cruel, but her honesty and self-sacrifice is what we remember, more than the moralizing selfishness of the other characters. Into the Woods is a fascinating story that has grown on me with each subsequent viewing; it is rich in its themes, layered with symbolism and allegory. Each character finds and confronts elements of their nature in “the woods,” and all their interactions carry metaphorical significance, at times to an uncomfortable degree (Red Riding Hood’s story has always been about sexual awakenings, and the lyrics don’t shy away from it: “It left me excited… and scared… it’s nice to know a lot, and a little bit not!”). It is not afraid to delve into the darker themes of the original fairy tales, nor to show us a new side to the story, such as making Jack responsible for larceny and murder (neither the giant nor his wife had to die!). Consequences run rampant for these characters; venturing into the woods gives them all their desires and downfalls, including the Witch. She is a reminder that a villain can set things in motion but it is up to the heroes to choose a higher ethical path. ♥ 5


BY RACHEL KOVACINY

GERTRUDE IN HAMLET


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here tend to be two approaches to portraying Gertrude, mother of Prince Hamlet, recent widow of King Hamlet, new wife of King Claudius. One is that she's completely innocent, unaware that her second husband murdered her first, though perhaps she may suspect something is rotten somewhere. The other is that she is deeply involved in Claudius's schemes. I favor the first option, as I think it makes her a much more tragic figure and works better with my own personal interpretations of the play. However, this issue of

Femnista is about villainesses, so in this article I'm going to explore the implications and consequences of portraying Gertrude as a femme fatale. The darker version of Gertrude has not been seduced by her husband's brother, as her son Hamlet assumes. Rather, she seduces him, or perhaps they mutually entice each other— Claudius seeking power, and Gertrude seeking... what? Release from her marriage to King Hamlet? Is he old, repulsive, inattentive, boring? Or does he simply relegate her to

being a figurehead, not sharing power and political influence? Or perhaps he is off at wars too often, leaving her bored and lonely, with his brother attentively filling the gaps in her life when the king is absent? Whatever her reasoning, Gertrude and Claudius pair up. Clearly, he is seeking the power and position that a "spare heir" perpetually lacks. But in the play, he seems also to be genuinely fond of Gertrude. He asks for her input, seeks her counsel, works to protect her. Claudius values Gertrude, and perhaps that's


what drew her to him—who does not enjoy being valued?

rather sweep neatly under a rug and forget about.

And then the plotting begins. Claudius has a penchant for poisoning, but surely our darker version of Gertrude provided not only the motive, but the means for King Hamlet's murder. Who but a wife would know the perfect time to find him napping alone in his private orchard? She leaves the dirty work to her paramour, however, as all good femmes fatales do.

Hamlet must be stopped. When he gets a troupe of traveling actors to perform a murder mystery that echoes the very way King Hamlet died, surely our dark Gertrude notices the similarities as well as Claudius. Hamlet suspects, maybe even knows what has happened. But

Once King Hamlet has been dispatched, she marries Claudius with undue haste. Is this from worry that she needs to keep him close and firmly under the spell of her charms, lest he lose his nerve and admit their sins to the world? Is it out of desire, a need to be with Claudius without the sneaking and skulking an extramarital affair requires? Is it to block her son from assuming the throne and gaining the power she herself craves? Any one of these presents a more than adequate reason for remarrying long before it is deemed "proper." When she and Claudius have wed, however, Gertrude's troubles do not end. Her son finds her remarriage disturbing. He suspects something very wrong is going on. And then he begins to act crazy. He constantly draws attention to the remarriage, to himself, to everything that Gertrude would

him from having to forfeit his life for his crime. But actually, he'll be killed once he reaches there, a devious plan devised by Claudius to rid himself of his annoyingly suspicious nephew-son. Is Gertrude involved in this plot too? If she is, then is she also somehow involved in Ophelia's death? Could she be worried that Hamlet had told Ophelia his suspicions, and so removes yet another potential obstacle by "helping" Ophelia drown? If so, then surely Horatio was next on her list of people to murder, for she must suspect Hamlet has confided in his friend. But before Gertrude can strike again, Hamlet returns. He's a changed man, more direct, quiet, resolved. They can't have such a dangerous enemy loose in Elsinore. If, then, she does nothing to warn Hamlet that his life is in danger, she is basically complicit in her own son's death, even if she has left the actual plotting to Claudius.

does he know she's involved? Gertrude plays innocent. Hamlet is deceived, convinced she had no knowledge of her husband's death. He blames the new king, and Gertrude works hard to keep the blame firmly on Claudius' shoulders. Hamlet kills Polonius, and is sent to England, theoretically to keep

If you read Gertrude as a cold, conniving femme fatale, then it is she who ultimately bears the guilt for eight deaths, who is justly served with her own death by the poison her second husband intended for her son. Do I personally like this reading? No. I prefer to believe Gertrude is innocent. But is it a valid interpretation? I think it is. Long before Gilda Mundson, Phyllis Dietrichson, or Brigid O'Schaughnessy, there may have been Gertrude, the deadly queen. ♼


BY ELORA CARMEN SHORE

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arkness is but the absence of light...evil, the waste of what once might have been good.

Merlin is one of my favorite shows. It's just good drama—and has great character portrayal and development. And nothing pleases me more when a show is able to amply show the transformation of a good person into the worst kind of villain— one whose love got twisted into something dark. Because let's face it, it is a universal truth that love is the most powerful thing in life—every deed that springs from it has immense power, for good or evil. That is why I like Morgana. Her heart was an open window, full of kindness, of understanding. She felt for everyone. A mother, a child, anyone. Her own fears for the people, and the way people with magic were treated, drove her to clash harshly with her father-figure (who turned out to be her true father) Uther Pendragon. It caused her to state early on that, "One by one you make enemies of us all." Too much alike in strong-headedness Uther disregarded Morgana's threat, sure of his own ways. They loved each other immensely but their fights were constant

and vicious—both felt keenly on the point. She saw magic users as human, and Uther saw them as a threat that cost him dearly in life. Over and over again she saw the cruelties Uther commanded, and when she started manifesting her own powers, it added to the strain and madness that she was already beginning to feel. In her struggle to find a way, to find an answer, and her continued clash with Uther, she eventually found a place for herself among others with magic—but through tragedy she lost what might have been a healthy society for herself and later was embraced by a sister who both loved and lead her down the path to darkness. Morgeuse provided the family she needed, but she really ignited the pyre of hatred Morgana had been building for years. Belonging is a dangerous thing— whether it's real or not. It can give you courage. Make you do things you never imagined yourself seriously doing… being capable of. The truth of evil is that it is just the misuse of what was intended to be right. Anything pure can lead to wretchedness. Love can turn to disgust and hate. Slowly, steadily… until the person is irrevocably changed.


“Sometimes you have to do what you think is right, and damn the consequences.” And it's true, but sadly, all that came from the choices she made led to madness and death and grief. To stirring up violence, maliciousness—treachery. Turning friendships into weapons. "Don't think I don't understand loyalty, just because I've got no one left to be loyal to." An interesting aspect of the show is all the things that came true from the beginning. Uther made himself enemies… especially of Morgana, someone who had his heart. And from the punishment she wreaked upon him, she fulfilled her own prophecy: "And you, Uther, you will go to hell." By breaking his heart, that was all she left him in life—a hell. Uther sacrificing himself to save his son was almost a mercy. Taking the man she knew and once loved, she deconstructed him bit by bit, leaving him a shell until his death. And there was no satisfaction for her—nothing to fill the void, nothing to curb her desire for more, and yet more— taking the throne, creating a world of “fairness” for those with magic—but regardless of her original pure goals, the road she took to get to the end turned it on its head and created a polluted goal. No longer was it pure, selfless. Morgana is the perfect example of an open heart that was so open that fear, circumstance, and her

own power reached right in and twisted it, and took it out completely. We can understand the heartbreak that led her to madness, but we can't reconcile the choices she made. We can only watch her descent, her wretchedness, and the grief she spread for everyone, up into the end. ♥


BY LIZZY GABE

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tar Wars is not short of tragic tales and hardhearted warriors. While Darth Vader may be one of the greatest villains of all time, there are plenty of women in the Star Wars universe who chose the dark side of the force. You’ll find several strong women in this galaxy, for how else would these tales be so epic in nature? Have you ever heard of this dark side feminist? She was a former Nightsister, Asajj Ventress. She once thought she’d be great. She was, in her

mind, supposed to be the next Sith Lord, and with more luck, she probably would have been. If not for the treacherous disloyalty of Count Dooku, the lonely Asajj may have successfully taken the place beside Sidious, and trained Anikan Skywalker. Asajj was no stranger to war and cruelty from an early age. Stolen from the clan of witches she was born into, she was raised as a slave, taken by pirates, then trained by a stranded Jedi. While she was always force-sensitive, she was able to master the Jedi style of combat. However, her world was not one of peace. It is no big surprise that after her Jedi master was killed, she eventually embraced the dark side. Perhaps it was also her witch heritage, for they are no friends of the light side of the force. But all she knew was betrayal, and loss. Looking back at many Sith Lords, those of the dark side are no stranger to loss, so perhaps this is another reason it was so easy for her to turn. Wanting to prove herself, she accepted Dooku’s offer to train her.


Little did she know she would be another pawn. The Clone Wars became a game of proving your loyalty, strength and power. Asajj had the latter two, as she had demonstrated in her lifetime‌ but would she be loyal to Dooku? That is a more interesting aspect of Ventress. While we watch her journey through the Clone Wars, the subtle hints and mysteries we witness may say more than actual stories and episodes.

old. She had every chance in the world to take her place in the ultimate position of power. But of course, that was not to be. After she was betrayed, however, who did she hate more? Count Dooku, or herself for letting her ambition blind her? She survived

After she became a lonely wanderer, she began to do what she could to help others like her. After the slaughter of her family, she tried bounty hunting. This led to her helping a kidnapped girl from being forced to marry. Later, Ahsoka Tano, a loner in her own right, was aided by none other than Ventress at the end of the Clone Wars series. It was not just girls she helped, but those who had once been her enemies, even some Jedi. While she may have struggled inside, wondering if she was to be an overlord or a savior, she ultimately chose to be a hero of sorts. Perhaps what she did with her time after her struggles says more about who she is. She could have chosen to become even harder, and let her scars of war define her. But her roots, those of turmoil and strength, proved that she would never bow to weakness.

When she began to hate Dooku, it was clear that there was more than just the desire to become a Sith Lord driving her onward. She was raised and trained by a Jedi, but without the traditional aspects of the Jedi Order; he was more of a father-figure in her life. Perhaps she was trying to fill that place, trying to fulfill the desire to have someone accept her. But eventually, she learned the truth: there were no plans to keep her around. Sidious never intended to keep her and Dooku followed the will of Darth Sidious. Before she was betrayed, Asajj enjoyed herself immensely, reveling in making the clone troops suffer, planting fear in the Jedi, and watching each victory over the Republic. Her content state of being, though shortlived, was proof that she believed the next position of Sith Lord would be filled by her. Yes, she was cautious, but there was no one else who wanted her place. Her rival, General Grievous, was no Sith, and Count Dooku was

slay or ruthlessly strike fear in the innocent. Perhaps this was because her early training was protecting the innocent from pirates. This instilled in her not the desire for blood, but justice; her version of justice and not the Jedi’s.

an assassination attempt, and went back to her home world, only for her Nightsisters to be slaughtered before her eyes. Asajj had no other option but to find her identity; not in her home world, her power or position, but in herself, alone. In time, she began to have a change of heart. She never was one to murder without cause,

Instead, she became a feminist. How many women can say they survived training, assassination and slaughter from warlords? Maybe she saw her past self in the women whom she saved. She had been each of them; a slave, a padawan, a victim. She created her own destiny and her own legend. A Star Wars feminist who just so happened to embrace the dark side for a while. ♼


BY CHARITY BISHOP

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he world of Grimm is populated with beasts and beings, but none is a greater threat nor leaves a more lingering impression than the Hexenbiests… witches of vast power, who are more often than not manipulative, self-serving, and inclined to be in league with the Royals. One of the mosthated troublemakers in the series is Adalind Schade, who is chosen by Sean Renard, a Zauberbiest (male version), to inject herself into the Grimm’s inner circle in order to obtain an ancient “key” that unlocks an incredible source of power. Adalind, who is in love with Renard, winds up nearly putting the Grimm’s partner in a coma along the way; Nick (the Grimm) retaliates by using his blood to remove her powers. This sets off a chain reaction, in which Adalind goes to great extremes to regain her magical abilities and have revenge on Nick. One of her spells removes his Grimm abilities, enticing his girlfriend 14


Juliette to reverse the spell by playing with magic, which has unforeseen consequences… Juliette becomes a Hexenbiest.

precedes them, to such an extent that even the formidable wolf beasts are terrified of them.

This highly controversial twist forced audiences to face the darker realities of Hexenbiests. Juliette was always a strongwilled heroine, inclined to take matters into her own hands and handle matters her own way, but becoming a Hexenbiest increased her emotions and strengthened these traits into aggressive and violent behavior. She tried to get rid of her powers, worried that she was “slipping away” into evil, and finally gave in… becoming a villain driven through revenge. Even though Hexenbiests from the start had been portrayed as decidedly evil, Juliette’s rapid transition shocked her friends; and once she fully understood her new powers, she thwarted all their attempts to remove them.

The unsettling thing about Grimm is how through its writing it forces us to confront our own inner demons… after several seasons of creating a negative view in our mind of Hexenbiests, it takes its heroine and transforms her into one, leaving us, much like Nick, reeling… and like Nick, instead of having compassion for her, as Juliette slides further into evil and finally crosses a line, we wanted to see her destroyed. Rather than seeing her as a victim of a force she cannot control, many simply wanted to get rid of her.

The implication is that Juliette cannot help who she becomes, as the nature of the monster inside her overcomes her goodness. She is therefore a victim but seen as a villain… the equivalent of waking up one morning with a second, evil personality you cannot control and then being held responsible for it. Some of her paranoid delusions about how Nick will react are off-base, but others force him to confront his deeply-engrained prejudices. Out of all the creatures that populate Grimm’s world of absolutes, where you are either good or evil, Hexenbiests are the most feared and hated. Their violent, angry, and manipulative reputation

What caused this psychological reaction in viewers? Is it out of an old-fashioned view that evil must be punished (the wages of sin are death) or does it reveal a deep-rooted sexism in modern culture? Renard has committed equal atrocities as Adalind and Juliette, but is a fan favorite; his behavior is excused where hers is condemned. Is it a tendency to look at surface actions rather than the root of a problem? To separate the person from their decisions? Or is it that if we choose to accept Hexenbiests cannot help their tendency for evil, but come by it naturally, we must find compassion not only for Juliette but Adalind as well?

Original fairy tales are dark. Evil is punished without mercy, and rarely can we find compassion or forgiveness in the offering. They reflect a time period where such thinking was commonplace… a time of witch burnings and persecution, when there was no answer to perceived evil other than death. Redemption simply was not an option… and when Grimm reflects that harsh, brutal worldview, it is not surprising; it serves to remind us to be grateful for a Savior who wants to save, and with His help, we can all escape our inner Hexenbiest. ♥ 15


BY LIANNE M. BERNARDO

here are many memorable villains in William Shakespeare’s works. One of the most conniving and manipulative is Lady Macbeth from the famous Scottish tragedy Macbeth. Spouse to a man prophesized to be king, she is the driving force behind achieving their political ambitions by any means necessary. But despite her determination and manipulation, she does not anticipate that their power will be short-lived, that their marriage will be profoundly affected, or that she will have to face the consequences of their actions one way or the other.

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When Lady Macbeth is first introduced in the play, she is reading the news she received from her husband about the Three Witches’ prophecy and his recently acquired title, the Thane of Cawdor. Rather than relishing on their good fortune, Lady Macbeth contemplates on the other half of the prophecy, that Macbeth will be king soon after. Instead of waiting for the prophecy to come to fruition in its own time, Lady Macbeth immediately plots for them to take matters in their own hands and seize power. Her attitude is dangerous and shocking because that she is planning to break bonds based on trust and decency: fealty to their king, respect between individuals, and rules of hospitality as she contemplates murdering someone staying in their own home. In the scenes shared with Macbeth, it is clear that Lady Macbeth is the proactive one, as she is the one stating outright to kill Duncan to seize the throne. Her husband is also ambitious but his speech doesn’t convey the same ruthlessness to achieve his desires. She emphasises this time and again when she speaks of hardening herself against feelings of remorse and pity and how serious her resolve is in keeping her word and achieving their goals: I have given suck, and know/How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me:/I would, while it was smiling in my face/Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums/And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you/Have done to this. (I, vii, 58-63) 16


Not only is she determined to do away with Duncan in order for her husband to become king but she expresses great optimism in their enterprise: “We fail?/But screw your courage to their sticking place/and we’ll not fail (I, vii, 65-67).” In carrying out the crime she maintains her calm, instructing Macbeth where to deposit the bloody daggers he used on Duncan and how to implicate the king’s guards. When he voices doubt about their plans, she would sometimes appeal to his sense of manliness, knowing it would strengthen his resolve:

escape the effects of a guilty conscience. In her waking life she berates Macbeth for his growing strange behaviour in company and insists that what they did was the right thing. She is able to carry out her duties as though she played no role in Duncan’s death. In her sleep, however, she is not in control and she relives her experience over and over, sleepwalking throughout the castle, talking to herself and struggling to remove the blood from her hands: “Out, damned spot! (V, i, 33)” Her guilt is even

What beast was’t, then/That made you break this enterprise to me?/When you durst do it, then you were a man:/And to be more than what you were, you would:/Be so much more the man. (I, vii, 51-55) But she also mocks him when he expresses some sadness over Duncan’s murdered state: “a foolish thought, to say ‘a sorry sight’ (II, vii, 26).” She later scolds him for his inability to return to the scene of the crime and takes care of the daggers herself: “My hands are of your colour, but I shame/to wear a heart of white (II, vii, 75 – 76).” But it is interesting to note that despite of her planning and sly words to cajole her husband into action, she does not carry out the murder herself; Macbeth still has to commit the act himself. For all of Lady Macbeth’s hard words and methodical planning in Duncan’s murder, she cannot

more apparent when she is caught by the doctor and servants telling herself, “Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O! (V, i, 46-47)” Her subconscious acts out her guilt even if her waking self refuses to acknowledge it. At the same time, Lady Macbeth experiences a diminishing of importance as the couple’s planner and rock of steely resolve. Portrayed in many

adaptations as a close couple at the start of the story, their crime wedges Macbeth and Lady Macbeth apart, leaving them to confront their guilt and increasing paranoia on their own. Macbeth himself becomes proactive of the two, taking it upon himself to eliminate all threats to his authority. He no longer confides in her as he once did, telling her not to worry of his plans when she asks of it. They no longer even share scenes as the play progresses to its climatic showdown with each facing their troubles on their own. They are so completely isolated from each other by the final act that Macbeth does not even react when he learns that she has died. For all her plotting for them to seize power, her influence fades as her sleepwalking increases and Macbeth takes charge in his newfound status. Lady Macbeth is a villainess in that she plots and encourages Macbeth’s rise to kingship by any means necessary. She holds no scruples about honour nor does she seem to care about the conscience in her quest for power. But over the course of the play, Shakespeare shows that she is not exempt from the strength of a guilty conscience, as is revealed through her sleepwalking. There Lady Macbeth appears more human, riddled with guilt for her share of the crime. She pays the consequences for her actions as their guilt tears the couple apart and ultimately leads to her death off-stage and unmourned for. ♥ 17


BY MARIANNA KAPLUN

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ho was she? Italianborn French queen, regent and mother of three kings of France, a powerful influence in 16th century France, particularly during the Wars of Religion. She at first adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Huguenots (French Protestants), but in 1562 civil war broke out, marking the beginning of the series of conflicts which became known as the French Wars of Religion. Her name was Medici. Catherine de’ Medici. La Reine Margot is a 1994 French period film directed by

Patrice Chéreau, based on the 1845 historical novel La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas. In it, Catholics and Protestant Huguenots are fighting over political control of France, ruled by the neurotic, hypochondriac King Charles IX (Jean-Hugues Anglade), and his mother, Catherine de’ Medici (Virna Lisi), a scheming power player. Catherine decides to make an overture of goodwill by offering up her unloved daughter Margot (Isabelle Adjani) in marriage to Henri de Bourbon (Daniel Auteuil), a prominent Huguenot

and the King of Navarre. This pleases no one except the Queen Mother. Marguerite’s brothers, who nicknamed her Margot and prize her with a love that borders on incest, are outraged. Although Margot is excluded from the throne by the Salic Law, her marriage to a Protestant prince offers a chance for domestic reconciliation of Catholics and Protestants. Catherine: “The Protestants believe you betrayed them. They can’t understand. What is betrayal but one’s skill in following the flow of events?”


Catherine schemes to bring on the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572, assassinating many of the most wealthy, prominent Huguenots who were in the largely-Catholic city of Paris to escort the prince to his wedding. The Massacre begins four days after the marital ceremony and thousands of Protestants are slaughtered, including the Huguenot leader, Coligny. The marriage goes ahead but Margot, who does not love Henri, begins a passionate affair with a soldier La Môle (Vincent Pérez), also a Protestant from a well-to-do family.

differently; today I run around in pants," she added. “She was bald, so we had this extraordinary device by a German to raise the hairline. I wore a kind of corset and went slightly bent. Catherine had to move heavily. I’m a dynamic, quick person. The costuming had to help do this.”

makers discovered her. “At the moment, she’s a well-regarded actress,” he says. “In the 1950’s, she was seen for her face, her beauty, but perhaps less as an actress. Yet she was never a woman who broke the rules.” Really the role of Medici required a certain inner courage.

As Catherine, Miss Lisi beguiled the critics, who gave her the best actress award at the Cannes festival. With her “shockingly

Mr. Cosulich contrasts Miss Lisi’s career with that of Gina Lollobrigida, who found it harder to crack the mold. “She, on the other hand, is having a second phase,” he says of Miss Lisi. As Lisi said about herself “But you know, they would say, “Lisi’s beautiful.” And I would add, “Yes, but she’s also an actress.”

Charles IX: “One who gives life is no longer a mother once she takes that life back.” Murders by poisoning follow, as court intrigues Catherine de Médicis: multiply and Catherine's “I love my three children. villainous plotting to I mean, all four of them.” place her son the Duke of Anjou (Pascal Greggory) on the throne threatens the lives of La Môle, Margot and Henri of witchy appearance and evil Navarre. A book with pages mannerisms,” Janet Maslin painted with arsenic is intended wrote in The New York Times, for Henri… but not all things “Catherine is indeed someone to work out as planned… be reckoned with.”

And all her acting talent was culminated in the role of a lifetime with the film, La Reine Margot by Patrice Chéreau, and perhaps in her best role, a marvelously malevolent Caterina de’ Medici. Lisi in the image of Caterina captured both the César and Cannes Film Festival awards, not to mention the Italian Silver Ribbon award.

In La Reine Margot the evil and scheming Catherine de’ Medici is played by an Italian born actress Virna Lisi. She once said: “The problem was, Catherine was ugly. I have to admit, I had to make an effort, I had to adapt, to look ugly, to age, in order to create this personality. Women in the 16th century behaved

The historical Medici continued to play a central role in politics after the events of the film and made further fruitless attempts to reconcile the opposing sides in the ongoing civil war. Catherine died on 5 January 1589 and was buried next to her husband in the church of St Denis in Paris. ♥

There are some tender moments in Miss Lisi’s portrayal, like Catherine’s solitary sobbing in a castle keep, but, she said, they fell to the cutting room floor. Callisto Cosulich, an Italian critic, says Hollywood never remade Miss Lisi; she was typecast before American film


BY RACHEL SEXTON

D

espite being known as "the gentler sex" and "the weaker sex," women have the same capability for physical violence and moral evil as men do. Sometimes, a great piece of storytelling acknowledges this and the audience is treated to a villainess who truly stands the test of time. Fairytale tradition is full of stories with women as the antagonist, and that is also true of later popular narratives that are associated with fairytales due to story similarities. No one needs prompting to immediately recognize The Wizard of Oz as one of these. The Wicked Witch of the West has been developed through many incarnations since the novel’s release, but now her green skin is often a physical manifestation of a destructive character trait: jealousy. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, written by L. Frank Baum. It was immediately popular and was later printed under the name The Wizard of Oz. In the novel, the girl heroine Dorothy Gale is swept up into a cyclone and deposited in the land of Oz where she faces the evil Wicked Witch of the West during her attempt to seek the assistance of the Wizard to get home. The novel was adapted for

film in 1939 and became the classic that we all know and love. It is here that the changes to the character begin, and initially, they are largely physical. Readers who have already seen the film will be surprised that the Witch has one external attribute they don't expect and she doesn't have one they do expect. In the novel, the Witch has one eye, and it operates like a telescope which allows her to survey the entire landscape of the Winkie Country of Oz that she exercises tyrannical control over. I have never seen any version of this story show that feature of the Witch. Also, the novel makes no mention of her having green skin. This aspect of her looks is so synonymous with the Witch now that it is hard to believe, but her green skin was crafted for the character in the 1939 film where she is played by actress Margaret Hamilton. Every incarnation of the character since has shown her with green skin. In 1995, the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was released. It was written by Gregory Maguire and was adapted into the hugely successful and beloved stage musical of the same name in 2003. This is an adult retelling of the familiar story, and here the Witch is


named Elphaba and her skin is green from birth. She attends university and befriends Glinda before different circumstances leading up to and surrounding the tale we know force them into their separate destinies. Issues of political activism, infidelity, and rivalry ensure that this is not a children's story anymore. The Witch is developed as a character with much more complexity than Baum attempted. Disney released a grand scale effort to bring Oz back to the big screen in 2013 with Oz the Great and Powerful. This is essentially a prequel to the Oz books by Baum, recounting how the Wizard arrived in Oz and became so revered while also revealing his interactions with the Witches which have lasting consequences.

After a tornado lands him in a wondrous new place called Oz, untrustworthy magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) and flirts with her. She and her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) are good witches and they believe he is the subject of a prophecy that says he will defeat an evil witch and rule Oz. Diggs accepts the task to stop the evil Witch terrorizing Oz's countryside because it will make him wealthy. Oscar also meets Glinda (Michelle Williams). His behavior with her makes Theodora realize Oscar never loved her. Evanora tries to help Theodora forget Oscar but the magic exposes Evanora as the evil Witch they are trying to stop and turns Theodora evil herself, with green skin to match. Diggs drives the two out of the Emerald

City in opposite directions and takes his place as the Wizard. As in Wicked, the Witch here is presented as not bad from the beginning but is driven that way by outside forces, with jealousy as a contributing factor. The second half of the third season of the revisionist fairytale drama series Once Upon a Time introduced the Wicked Witch of the West as well. This show is known for playing fast and loose with cherished stories, so they have named their character Zelena and she is revealed to be the half-sister of Evil Queen Regina Mills. Played by Rebecca Mader, Zelena wants to complete a time-travel spell in order to claim her place in Regina's family and become royalty. She even goes to Rumplestiltskin to


learn magic, as Regina did. This version of the Wicked Witch features the most overt use of jealousy among all her different interpretations. Zelena was born with normal skin but when Rumplestiltskin rejects her as a student, preferring Regina, she is devastated and her skin turns green. All the heroes on the show believe her dead at the end of the third season but she managed to take the place of another character and was found out at the end of the fourth. Mader was upgraded to a full cast member for the now-airing fifth season, so the Wicked Witch of Once Upon a Time is not done yet. More and more conspicuously, the character of the Wicked Witch of the West has developed over several incarnations and the distinct physical feature of her green skin has become linked with the emotional upheaval of jealousy. She is already an iconic villainess and audiences can be certain that we haven't seen the last of her. After all, Maleficent recently got a solo film and one for Cruella de Vil is in the works. Even if she doesn't get one herself, the Wicked Witch of the West is too entertaining as a female antagonist to stay out of the public eye for long. And her green skin, too. ♼


BY VICTORIA BRAND

"Though you resist, I will compel a terrible transformation..."

A

barbarian king lives in a land called Glome with his daughters: the elder is ugly, and the younger is beautiful. This king suffers great shame before his rivals and his own people alike: he lacks a male heir. Bold in a battle, and terrifying to slave and servant, he cannot defend himself from the shame, the rumors, and the whispers. The widowed king seeks a wife from a neighboring kingdom to obtain a son. His new wife, timid, fragile and barely more than a child also, is soon pregnant. The day of the child's birth is the day of the mother's death. The heart of the king rages at his greater disappointment: the infant is female. From where does this weakness come? These trials come in matters of fertility, fortune and harvest‌ matters of birth, life, and death. To the ancients, the gods hold sway in such matters. It seems the family's adversary is none other than Ungit, the goddess of Glome. She is the very goddess the father believes is bound to serve him for the sake of the offerings he sends to her house.


In the seemingly-benevolent shadow of this terror, the three daughters grow: now the eldest, Orual, has courage. The middle one, Redival, is desirable. The youngest, Istra, has goodness, but it seems Ungit is provoked by that goodness. Thus, she lays her trap carefully: she controls what mortals cannot: the rains, the seasons, the crops, and the wars. With drought and danger from neighboring enemy nations, is she drawing a noose tight about the king and his household? Is Ungit not the source of the wretched illness that kills not the weak and the old but healthy young men and women, mothers and fathers in the prime of their strength? Does she not bait Istra into accepting the worship of the people (which only the gods may have) in the guise of healing the sick? And having caused a fault, Ungit demands redress. Her emissary (priest of the house Ungit) goes to the house of the royal family. Ungit's demand? Nothing less than Istra, the royal daughter, as a precious sacrifice. There in the king's compound stands the priest of Ungit, steady behind the blind gaze of his eerie bird mask. The King sends his champions to fight for him: first, his scholar, a slave imported from the lands of the Greeks, "The Fox." The Fox speaks of logical impossibilities, and tries to reason against the priest of Ungit. These well-aimed analytical darts bounce off the priest like so many launched toothpicks. Next, the King sends Bardia, commander of his guard. But Bardia resists his master; he

can fight flesh and blood, but not powers and spirits. The priest of Ungit stands his ground, impervious in the face of death. A man who cannot be shaken is unsettling enough. Ungit receives her demanded sacrifice, to the great grief of Orual. Throughout the years, it seems that Ungit continues to take and take. Though Orual transcends her womanliness and rules the nation after her father's death, though she excels in all the arts of kingship and warrior-hood, it is nothing to her. Has not her ugliness denied her a husband and lover, child, and closest companion? Has not Ungit denied her the love she most desires—her own sister? The wicked stepmothers of fairy tales tear off a young woman's finery or assign her to hard labor. But the greater terror of Ungit, like a monster in a psychological thriller, is how she makes her victims like her own repellant image. Orual, as an elderly Queen, sits vigil in the house of Ungit and sees the temple women. She thinks, "how the seed of men that might have gone to make hardy boys and fruitful girls was drained into that house, and nothing given back; and how the silver that men had earned hard and needed was also drained in there, and nothing given back; and how the girls themselves were devoured and were given nothing back." Is not Orual herself like a spider sitting at the center of a web,

Ungit-like, draining the lives and the love of those who serve her so faithfully? Has she become the very thing she hates? Ungit is an overwhelming adversary, a foe whose malevolent working to transform her prey is seemingly unavoidable. Yet there also is a greater grace at work, in the face of which, Ungit is impotent. Even as Ungit seeks to drain victims' humanity, and though her power seems irresistible, Lewis asks, "What are you becoming?" Doesn't his question strike close to every woman's fears? This is why Faces must not be read without context: its tensions and ambiguities puzzle the mind, will and heart. I recall the context I had for my first reading of it: I had just finished The Four Loves, filled with the same warnings but in plain words. I spoke of the darkness and the dangers of Ungit, but sometimes harder to bear is the intense longing for heaven the story can awaken within you. Such a burden must be shared, if only by finding out which friends are fellow sojourners so you can say, "I saw it too." If you're not sure which of your friends read such intense, morally-challenging fiction, drop me a line at victoriabrand@ yandex.com I intend to share a virtual cup of coffee with every person who mails me about Till We Have Faces. Because... what does "The Fox" say? "Is not all the world of one blood?" I care about what sort of people my brothers and sisters are turning into. ♼


Charity Bishop is an editor. Her free time is spent writing novels & movie reviews, blogging, and typing fictional characters on tumblr. She is known as an allaround contrarian who is only serious about her faith. Carol Starkley has a husband, three daughters, three cats, five fish, and a hamster. She’s also a Christian Blogger.

Lianne Bernardo is a 20-something Canadian who loves history, period dramas, British television, travel, photography, and (European) football. She is an avid reader, reading everything from fantasy to classic literature to historical fiction, and extensively blogs about them on her website, eclectictales.com When she isn't studying or reading, she is working towards finishing a number of her writing projects. You can also find her on Twitter, @eclectictales.

Elora Carmen Shore is a long time writer and has published a short story (Eloise) and her Marianna Kaplun was born in first collection of poetry, A Moscow. She is a philologist Road to Count the Days By, specializing in Ancient Russian drama and theatre. She’s also a film available on Amazon Kindle. and television critic by calling and Her poems have appeared in several magazines. She is librarian by profession. You can working on a romcom and a find her essays on her Facebook page fantasy trilogy. Follow Elora and on Lumiere. She also blogs in online at Pendragon and Out English and Russian. My Front Door.

Victoria Brand is a Christian woman, passionate teacher, and an NF on the Briggs-Meyers Type Indicator. Her obsessions include: the Gospel, peacemaking, wounded people, cross-cultural ministry, storytelling, nerdy conversations with friends, and coffee. Her most exciting "new finds" in fiction lately are Flannery O'Connor and Marilynne Robinson. She also blogs about loving and honoring every part of the body of Christ.

Lizzy Gabe has loved writing ever since she was a young girl. She loves all things geek, nerd, sci -fi, fantasy and fiction. Her goal is for as many people as possible to meet her characters, and to share her love of fiction with every book geek in the world! 26

Rachel Sexton is from Ohio and has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. But what you really need to know is that she has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life and her favorite fandoms are Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Once Upon a Time. Plus, she is most described as quiet and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Her main hobby is editing fan videos.

When she's not writing, Rachel Kovaciny passes the time by reading, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least favorite activities are house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she's been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. She blogs about books, and also has a personal blog that talks about movies and other important things.


Young people gifted with supernatural abilities for a divine purpose encounter all manner of conflict and spiritual awakening in this terrific new book series by Femnista editor Charity Bishop. A haunted assassin’s academy, a would-benun, an army of ghosts, and Napoleon Bonaparte feature in Ravenswolde Purchase at Amazon

A family curse, a band of Romani, the famous Dr. Joseph Bell, and Jack the Ripper feature in The Giftsnatcher Purchase at Amazon

A cleric with a closet full of weapons, a mysterious aunt she has never heard of, a villainous neighbor, and a cunning cat feature in Thornewicke Purchase at Amazon

A diabolical past, a possessed house, a secret organization, and the RMS Titanic feature in The Secret in Belfast Purchase at Amazon

Due to intense themes and violence, the series is recommended for ages 13+. 27


NEXT TIME: Michaelangelo Leonardo Da Vinci Raphael Thomas Becket Elizabeth I Mary I Katherine von Bora Luther William Shakespeare Ever After

“The Renaissance” This period in history saw significant changes in global empires; it was a time of great painters and theologians, exploration into the New World, and the figures of the mighty Protestant Reformation. It featured such unforgettable figures as the de Medicis, Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, Thomas More, Erasmus, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, his wives, and children, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, and other playwrights. Many wonderful films are also set in this time. Join us as we explore all the Renaissance has to offer.

NEED INSPIRATION?: Figures: Isabella of Castile Ferdinand of Aragon Sir Thomas More Erasmus Martin Luther Henry VIII Margaret Beaufort Elizabeth Woodville Kit Marlow Charles V Christopher Columbus Lady Jane Grey Tudor Wives Rodrigo Borgia Films: A Man for All Seasons, Anonymous, Anne of the Thousand Days, The Borgias, Dangerous Beauty, Da Vinci’s Demons, The New World, Shakespeare’s Plays, Shakespeare in Love, The Other Boleyn Girl, Reign, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Wolf Hall.

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE? Claim your topic before someone else does! femnista@charitysplace.com

Coming Dec 1st!

Femnista Halloween 2015  

Maleficent, Into the Woods, Hamlet, Merlin, Star Wars, Grimm, Macbeth, La Reine Margot, Oz, Till We Have Faces

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