Through fresh writing, the character of Witch is allowed to have the most contradictions, therefore blurring the rigid binary of good vs bad, an idea ingrained in popular culture for eons, in effect making her the play’s most human character. This is key to de mystifying the Grimm Brother’s fairy tale “Rapunzel”, as she is no longer placed in a 2 dimensional mold of evil figure. While her defining moments in the text are marked by unexplained rage, jealousy and retribution lensed with zero objective perspective within into the Woods she is given opportunity to be viewed in a more well rounded light as she is central in everyone else’s story allowing the audiences to experience more of her. Through this there is chance to receive the benefit of the doubt from viewers when put next to characters like Jack whom we may have trouble sympathizing with due to his absurd approach to the world and lack of depth. His outlook seems improbable, as for example it’s soaked with blind optimism, making Jack believe alone he can fix community wide issues, in this case being a Giant whom has penchant for destroying homes and eating people, not believable to anyone who has navigated the real world.
Into The Woods makes the Witch as close to a fully developed human character as a fairy tale can allow. The theatrical interpretation allows her to rise above a one dimensional archetype provided by the original Grimm Brother’s work, giving her depth and allowing her to be viewed through multiple perspectives.
The genius of Into The Woods’ interpretation from the Grimm Fairytale Rapunzel lies in the clarity of the Witches intentions: she very clearly has no maliciousness in her heart when interacting with Rapunzel from inside her towe...
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... and Christian perspectives of pagan religions. The Salem Witch Trials were a moment in history when this clash of ideology resulted in ideas that contribute to this. Witches still carry negative connotations of evil, which is why we so heavily associate them with Halloween. The white Judeo Christian view of supernatural powers also ties into this as it manifested ideals allowing for the demonization of exactly this. Because of our limited framework, we don’t expect the Witch to have such multifaceted characteristics making her not either bad or good, more so having qualities that are a mix of both. She is allowed a certain freedom not found in prior literary iterations where an evil archetype persists mainly due to author’s interpretation. In Into The Woods she is given a human perspective, therefore her characterization breaths new life into a stale character mold.
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