I read this article which suggested that Roald Dahl's The Witches is basically a work of anti-Semitism. Now I am aware of Roald's own apparent/alleged anti-Semitism but this is a question specifically about The Witches.

The article states:

the whole story is founded on deeply antisemitic tropes.

Reading through the article, the links seem very tenuous. The evidence presented is:

  • A global conspiracy of child murderers
  • Wigs
  • Big noses
  • Wealth

To me this seems like a ridiculous attempt to link a few mild coincidences: wealth, global conspiracies, and child murder are pretty generic horror / dystopian-world tropes as well. Big noses? As far as I remember, the witches are described as having slightly odd-looking nostrils, not big noses, and the wigs thing appears to be grasping at straws (e.g. I don't recall a stereotype of a Jewish bald woman).

Granted the article appears to be more about the movie than the book, but it puts the blame squarely on Roald Dahl, to the extent of almost excusing Robert Zemeckis, so the implication is clear.

Is it a commonly held interpretation that Witches are a hint at Jews? Or, has Dahl himself, or anyone connected to him admitted or suggested it?

  • 2
    About the stereotype of Jewish bald women — married Orthodox Jewish women are supposed to cover their hair, and some of them wear wigs instead of headscarves, so there is indeed a reason to associate wigs with older Jewish women.
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 13, 2021 at 13:37
  • Let me add that despite my comment above, I don't believe Roald Dahl put antisemitic elements in The Witches – or at least not consciously on his part.
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 13, 2021 at 13:55
  • 1
    Dahl was kinda anti-semitic. npr.org/2020/12/06/943698406/…
    – Valorum
    Jan 18, 2021 at 19:02
  • 1
    There are a lot of articles suggesting an antisemitic subtext (Google), but there's unlikely to be a factual answer. I don't know how to quantify a "commonly held interpretation". And I'd be surprised if Dahl admitted to it. You'll have to do research and decide for yourself.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 22, 2022 at 12:25


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