The Grand High Witch

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Researched by: CrinosVegeta

The Grand High Witch of All The World or just The Grand High Witch is a title given to the leader of all witches on Planet Earth, according to Roald Dahl's 1983 book The Witches. The Grand High Witch is also the main antagonist of the book and the film. Described as being "without mercy," she travels around the world summoning all the witches of whatever country she is in, giving congratulations or punishments according to the witches' success in their ultimate mission: destroying children. She teaches them such schemes as trapping children inside paintings, turning them into slugs so they can be "squished" or (it is rumoured) turning American children into hot dogs so that they will be eaten by their own parents. She is said to own a counterfeit machine that leaves her no problem in traveling wherever she likes, or helping her lesser witches financially if she feels they need some assistance in their quest to eliminate all things juvenile.

The Grand High Witch within this story is noted for being particularly intolerant and demanding. At a meeting of her followers in a hotel, she claims to desire that all children in England be destroyed in one year; when one brave or foolish witch points out the impossibility of this task, the Grand High Witch tauntingly versifies her minion's impertinence and uselessness and burns her to oblivion by directing magical energy from her eyes; a technique of execution that the narrator's grandmother later explains is known in the witches' community as "getting fried".

The Grand High Witch then explains that elimination of children will be easily accomplished if all the witches set up in trade as sweetshop owners and places a potion in their stock that will turn anyone who consumes it into a mouse. This, she says, will convince parents and schoolteachers to kill the children, mistaking them for genuine pests. The witches and the story's narrator, himself a child, then witness a young boy, Bruno Jenkins, who has previously been fed some potion-inserted chocolate, enter the room, whereupon he is changed into a mouse to demonstrate the potion's effect.

The witches, satisfied that they will meet their leader's demands to destroy all children in England, are about to leave when one of the witches then picks up the scent of the story's narrator. They catch him, force-feed him the potion, and attempt, when he becomes a mouse, to crush him; but he escapes and finds Bruno again. The two mice then find their way back to the room occupied by the narrator's grandmother. Later, the narrator steals the potion, infiltrates the hotel's kitchen, and places the potion in the witches' soup. All the witches, including the Grand High Witch, are transformed into mice and instantly are chopped to pieces by the cooks. The narrator and his grandmother, realising that, as with queen bees, when the leader dies there is always going to be another individual who will take over the role of leadership, thereafter plan to move into the Grand High Witch's castle and use it as a base in which to discover the names and addresses of all the remaining witches in the world, so as to feed them potion as well, turn them likewise into mice and destroy them with cats.

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Official Site: Roald Dahl
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