The portrayal of witches were considerably dark for a children's book, as they were all guilty of casting harmful spells of children, which included trapping them inside a painting or polymorphing them into animals, especially the ones that their parents hated. American Witches are said to turn children into hot-dogs that their parents consume without even knowing that. They would usually go after a child once per week.
They are led by the evil and deceptive Grand High Witch, who the rest of the witches are terrified of. Unlike the other witches, she did not limit herself to more than one child per week. In fact, she came up with a plan that would ultimately murder all of the children in England.
All of the witches on England were killed off (with the exception of Susan Irvine) after the boy and his grandmother used their own formula against them, by contaminating it into their soup at dinner, turning them all into mice, and then being subsequently slaughtered by the confused hotel staff, believing them all to be real mice.
All of the witches have the same appearance. They are bald, have clawy fingers and toeless, square feet. In order to avoid any suspicions among humans, they wear wigs, which give them horrible rash, gloves, and elegant pumps or flat shoes. They also have purple eyes and their pupils have flames in them, blue saliva, enlarged nostrils to help them localize the child, and crooked teeth that they cover by wearing fake ones.
|“||One child a week is 52 a year. Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear.||„|
|~ The secret motto of all Witches.|
Witches are demons, and thus they have a demonic set of powers and a demonic hatred of humanity. Thus their magic may come from Satan himself. Helga suggests this at one point by saying "Nobody has seen the Devil, but we all know he exists, don't we?". All Witches originally come from Norway, and thus spread everywhere. There is a secret society of witches in every country, and they do not know each other. For instance, an English witch will know all other English witches, and so on. It is illegal for witches to communicate with foreign witches.
Despite their chaotic and boisterous nature, witches do have a hierarchy, with the Grand High Witches being at the peak. Then the chain goes to the leader of the witches from one country such as Nicola Cuttle, and so on down the chain to subordinates and so on. All other witches are terrified of the superiors, and it seems that the higher a witch is, the more advanced her powers are, as seen when the Grand High Witch burns an unlucky witch alive with eye lasers as the punishment when she dared to question her orders.
The Witches are very conniving and manipulative, fooling human authorities to believing they are respectable women. Also, all Witches are female. Dahl says he is not being sexist here, but it is just a fact of life, that all witches are women, and there is no such thing as a male witch, and to explain this, he says that barghests, another demonic species, are always male, just as witches are always female. However, neither is really human anyway.
- Witches sometimes are referred as "Hekser" in the Norwegian language.