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The Beldam

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Other mother's first form

Full Name
Other Mother
The Beldam, Mother (by the children she abducts), "The Real Mother", Other Mother, Evil Witch (by Coraline)
Powers / Skills
Vast magical powers
Control over another dimension created by herself
Can steal souls by taking their owners' eyes
Abducting children and "eating their lives"
To take the souls of human children, kill Coraline.
Type of Villain
Child-Abuser / Child Murderer / Complete Monster

You may come out when you learn to be a loving daughter!
~ Other Mother
You horrible cheating girl!
~ Other Mother before transforming the floor into a spiderweb.

The Beldam (aka: The Other Mother) is the main antagonist of the novel Coraline and its film adaptation. She lives in the Other World, where she waits for unhappy, neglected children to come find her. She pretends to be just a button-eyed version of the child's mom. She sends out dolls to use as spy cameras to watch the children and get to know them and their neighbors. Then she makes ragdoll like copies of them called the "Others", creating another world superior to their own. Though seemingly innocent, it's all a trap so she can sew buttons over their eyes and eat their lives. One girl, Coraline, escapes, saves her three previous victims and her parents, throws a cat at her face, and destroys her hand. Her final fate is unknown, though she persumably dies from starvation. According to Coraline's biological father, the house is 150-years-old, presumably age of Beldam.

At first, Other Mother appeared as a sweet and well-mannered mother who adored Coraline and had a seemingly loving relationship with the "Other Father" - a temptation that appealed to Coraline's frustration with her own parents.

Other mother's second form

Other Mother's 2nd Form

However, as Coraline grew more rebellious, the Other Mother showed her true colors, becoming abusive towards "Other Father" and "Other Wyborne" and other inhabitants of the Other World, then towards Coraline herself. As the Other Mother changed into an inhumanly tall and emaciated version of her former disguise, the Other World changed likewise into a nightmarish fairyland.

Though Coraline was able to escape back to her real home, she found her parents had disappeared, forcing her to return to the Other World to recover them. However, Coraline took advantage of the Other Mother's love of competition and challenged her to a game: If Coraline could free the 'eyes' of the children and find her parents that the Other Mother had captured before the moon was eclipsed by the shadow of a button, the Other Mother would have to let them all go; but, if she failed, she would allow the Other Mother to keep her, "love" her forever and sew buttons into her eyes.

By the time Coraline
Other mother third form

Other Mother's 3rd Form

found the "eyes" representing the children's souls and returned to the Other House for her parents, the Other Mother had decayed further into a spidery being with needles for fingers and cracked porcelain skin (briefly described as 'the Beldam'). Knowing that the Other Mother would not honour her victory, Coraline distracts her by incorrectly guessing where her parents are hidden and throws her ally the black cat at the Other Mother's face, who then rips out the beldam's button eyes.

Though blinded, the Other Mother transforms the floor of the room into a spiderweb, hunting Coraline by her movements and the vibration of the thread; when Coraline manages to escape into the passage home, the Other Mother's detached needle-hand follows her.

Coraline crushes the hand and traps it in a bag, and throws it and the key to the Other World into the bottom of a well. The Other Mother's fate is not clear, but she likely died of starvation if the unravelling of the Other World didn't kill her first.

The Other World and its inhabitants

Coraline's first contact with the Other World is a small stuffed doll she finds, which resembles herself, with buttons for eyes. While she protests that she's 'too old' for dolls, she carries it everywhere with her anyway. It's implied that the Other Mother can see through the eyes of the doll.

The Other World is a fantastic version of Coraline's house and the garden outside, filled with bright colours and small wonders, compared to the drab appearance of the poorly-maintained real-world originals. The flowers luminesce, and the photographs and shiny trinkets and stuffed toys around the house are alive. The Other Mother dotes on her when she is frustrated by her real mother's fastidiousness, and while her real father has stopped playing music or games with her due to overwork, the Other Father plays piano and tends the garden with fantastic, Dr-Seuss-like machines. Other Wybourne is mute, removing the thing that annoys her most about the real Wybourne. In the real world the old ladies Spink and Forcible downstairs taxidermy their dead dogs and wax nostalgic about their days as acrobats, and Bobinsky is a strange blue Russian Slav who lives in the attic and rambles incoherently; their Other equivalents perform for her in their own private performance hall and circus tent

Other Mother as she appears in the books.

, with angelic flying puppies and trained white mice.

As the glamour of the Other World fades, however, it begins to show its true form. The Other humans are demonic constructs created by the Other Mother to entice Coraline to stay; when Other Wybourne tries to warn her away, the Other Mother first sews his mouth into a permanent smile, then kills him when he persists, and the Other Father slowly reverts into a pumpkin, pleading for her to escape while his gardening machine takes control and forces him to attack her. The well spews out vines that wrap around her and try to tie her up. Other Spink and Other Forcible tangle together into a massive stick ball of spider silk, while the flying dogs shed their feathers for bat wings. Other Bobinsky becomes an empty suit filled with his own white mice, now rats, which take over the circus and with it attack Coraline.

When Coraline walks far enough from the house, she finds the border of the Other World where it dissolves into an empty white void, then reforms in front of her when she continues walking away. As she finds the eyes of the lost children, the colours around her fade to grey, and then everything begins to unravel into thread until only the room of the house where the Other Mother has her lair remains.

La Belle Dame sans Merci

The name 'the Beldam' is a reference to a fairy-tale being, also known as 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' ('the beautiful lady without pity') from the poem of the same name by John Keats.

The poem tells the story of an unnamed knight wandering in a barren and haggard land, who encounters a beautiful and mysterious woman with bright and wild eyes who draws him to her secret grotto with claims of love, then puts him into an enchanted sleep. The knight dreams of ghostly beings who warn him that he is under la Belle Dame's thrall; when he awakens, the woman and her home have vanished, leaving him back on the barren hillside.

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