In the seventh part of Wyrd Sisters, the coven is broken, and Nanny Ogg finds out where Greebo has been. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For mention of rape and discussion of sex shaming.
I tried to guess what was going to happen, and I WAS SO WRONG.
This is a difficult part of the story, and I know that I was unprepared for it because I only saw the humor in the way these three witches were different. But what plays out here as the coven is dissolved is something that was hinted at long before this. It took me a while to be able to grasp the characterization of Nanny Ogg, Magrat, and Granny, particularly in relationship to one another. I know I missed the mark on Magrat in my first couple reviews, but I feel like I understand these three better. Even after this bitter fight, I still feel like they’re all friends, that this coven wasn’t just an excuse to cover for something. They do enjoy one another’s company. Granted, there had always been a clear division between the two older witches and the youngest one; the separation between Nanny and Granny was a lot more blurred, but it was still there.
And if you look at the conversation Nanny and Granny have prior to the fight, it’s obvious they respect one another. It’s obvious they know one another very well. Nanny is able to tell that Granny Weatherwax is preoccupied; she’s able to listen and ask questions when necessary; she’s polite and respectful. I think that matters! I think they have a very strong foundation for a friendship. But that doesn’t mean they can’t fight with one another, nor does that mean that there isn’t a serious issue at hand that they’ve got to work out between each other.
Initially, it’s actually Magrat who sets off the whole thing, though I don’t want to come off as if I’m blaming her. Her anger at how Granny and Nanny – mostly Granny – react to her reveal that she’s got a crush on the Fool is justified. Magrat deals with a lot of criticism from these other two witches, and Granny often deals said criticism without regards to how it will affect Magrat. Like, how is this at all helpful?
“A man who tinkles all day. No kind of husband for anyone, I’d say.”
“You – she’d always know where he was,” said Nanny, who was enjoying this. “You’d just have to listen.”
“Never trust a man with horns on his hat,” said Granny flatly.
So Magrat has a enough. She insults the two of them, and she goes home, and it ignites a nasty, bitter fight about sexuality, promiscuity, and being a witch. It actually made me feel bad about laughing at all the jokes made at Nanny Ogg’s expense concerning her drinking or knowledge of sex. Just… holy shit, this is so uncomfortable, namely this specific point of their argument:
“Yes, if you’d let them work it out for themselves, instead of encouragin’ them to throw themselves at men.”
“They’re good-lookin’. You can’t stand in the way of human nature. You’d know that if you’d ever –”
“If I’d ever what?” said Granny Weatherwax, quietly.
Jesus, IT IS SO AWFUL. I’m not going to quote what happens after this, which teeters between shaming someone for having sex and someone else for not having it. And it’s obvious now that I’ve missed out on a number of aspects of their characterization. Namely, Nanny and Granny don’t actually agree on what a witch should do to be a witch. While this conversation focuses mostly on sex, it’s easy to look back and see how plain their differences are. I feel like Nanny exists in a middle ground between Granny’s traditional style and Magrat’s sense of grandeur and love of the occult. But in this case, you’ve got a more conservative view of sex clashing with a more liberal one. (Though I would be super interested in a conversation about the implications of a headcanon I now have: Granny Weatherwax is actually asexual. WHAT IF Y’ALL. That’s not to suggest that ace people are sex haters or that they’d do what happens here, though. JUST A HEADCANON.)
So the coven is broken just over a third of the way through this book. Again, I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. Of course, the timing of it is pretty horrific, given that this is the exact period when the three witches should present a unified front. So, while Magrat pursues a love potion for the Fool, which… okay, let’s not? Please be critical of love potions, Wyrd Sisters, PLEASE BE CRITICAL OF LOVE POTIONS. Anyway, Magrat concerns herself with Goodie Whemper’s detailed (and stunningly accurate) recipe while Nanny Ogg takes time to go find Greebo. I fell so hard for this, y’all, because I was certain that Verence was going to capture her in the same room as Greebo. How did I not question this??? She was walking directly into the castle of the man who was trying to persecute the witches with taxation and arrests!!! (Can I also take a moment to frown greatly at that line that describes Greebo as a multiple rapist? Let’s not joke about that.)
I’ll be interested to see how Magrat is going to take care of Nanny Ogg’s imprisonment without Granny’s help. (Plus, I don’t think Granny is going to remain ignorant of what’s happened. She’s destined to find out, and she’ll probably go seek out a solution on her own, too. oH GOD THAT’S WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, ISN’T IT?) But I need the next section right now because Nanny Ogg has finally met the ghost of King Verence. I assumed that her nonchalance about the threat of torture from the duke and duchess was due solely to her being intimidating. I’m sure that’s still a part of it, but there’s also this:
“I saw you making faces behind him,” said Nanny Ogg. “All I could do to keep a straight face myself.”
“I wasn’t making faces, woman, I was scowling.”
Please tell me there’s fanart of this. PLEASE SHARE IT WITH ME.
SO, TO RECAP: Everything’s uncomfortable, Magrat is going to try to rescue Nanny by herself, Nanny Ogg is chained to a wall and is subject to the company of a ghost who doesn’t want to obey her demands that he stop talking. EVERYTHING’S A WONDERFUL ADVENTURE.
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