Articles about female ghosts are scattered across the Internet, each one more compelling and nightmare-inducing than the last. Stories of lonely, ferocious, and tortured ghosts of women haunt our imaginations across cultures, tapping into our deepest anxieties and fears to make us shiver…and behave.
Here we examine five female ghosts from around the world through a feminist lens. Each of these hair-raising spirits arise from a context just as frightening as the ghosts themselves.
The first witch of Western literature, Circe lived what appears to be an idyllic, solitary life on the island of Aiaia. She spent her time honing her enviable magic spells, collecting herbs from the thick forest that fringed her land and doting on her magically docile pet lions and wolves.
The fairy-tale witch is a compelling, frightening, and reliable stock character in our contemporary society. Mention “witch” and the hag of fairy-tale picture books for children comes to mind far more frequently than any other, more nuanced image.
Stereotypes based on appearance are all too common, but redheads certainly seem to have a raw deal. Where might some of these ideas have come from?
Through myth, fairy tale and legend, powerful women are depicted as dark, cruel and calculating, and they are often naturally associated with winter – a season where all warmth withdraws, and the land is covered with snow and ice, and life is no more than a battle of survival against the elements.