Anya Chalotra is beautiful, even if we don’t count the violet eyes that she sports for the role of Yennefer of Vengerberg in the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher. The third season shows Yennefer seeking redemption for the sins she committed in the previous season and slowly overcoming an obsession that had sent her into a spiral in the past. Yennefer slowly grows into the role of a mother for Freya Allen’s character, Cirilla of Cintra, but it’s a process that takes its fair time. Here, we explore how Yennefer came to be a motherly figure for Geralt’s ward, the white-haired Ciri.
Perhaps the ugliest child in the town of Vengerberg was the hunchbacked girl with a misshapen jaw and a severely bent frame named Yennefer. Hated and sold like mere cattle to a mystical woman in exchange for a few coins by her father, Yennefer was taken to a strange castle where she was given lessons in becoming a mage at Aretuza. Additionally came the promise that successful mages would be transformed to look beautiful and ageless for the rest of their lives, completely transforming them from the hideousness that they were born with. However, such a tremendous gift came with an even bigger price. The price for earning youth forever was to give up the natural ability to reproduce, like the women who underwent the transformation surrendered their ability to bear children. The lure of shedding the grotesque body that she was born with was too strong for Yennefer to consider the repercussions of her actions, and she agreed to go through with the process. Yennefer had never experienced agony as she did, lying on the cosmetologist’s chair as he undid the hideousness that was her natural body. With the process completed, Yennefer of Vengerberg was the most beautiful mage and woman in the hall, where the kings from various kingdoms would arrive to pick the mages for their court. One look at Yennefer, and the king, who had been considering Fringilla Viggo as his court mage, immediately followed her lead into dance and recruited her soon after.
When we don’t have a certain object that we desire, the desire for the said object is unfathomable, and often we’re willing to go to any length to achieve the same. However, the irony of human life is that when that object is inside the palm of our hands, the desire slowly starts seeping away, leaving room for doubts. The exact same happened with Yenerfer after she spent years as a court mage, and she slowly realized that her life was going nowhere and that she lacked the fulfillment she so wholeheartedly desired. This fulfillment for Yennefer would come only if she could give birth to a child, but the transformation that made her the most desirable woman in a court also stripped her of being able to grow a child in her womb. This inability started to become a new obsession for her, and Yennefer agreed to take on riskier and riskier tasks like obtaining a dragon’s egg to guarantee that she would become pregnant despite having had her uterus removed.
The reason behind such an obsession is simple, however: Yennefer has been deeply starved of affection for her entire life. After Geralt and she had yet another fight, she realized that the only human who would stay with her would be a child that she’d give birth to and, thereby, win that child’s unconditional love. Desperate to be loved, Yennefer strove to get pregnant through any means necessary but failed because it was not biologically possible. It was around this time that she was entrusted with Ciri, a young girl who was Geralt’s ward. During the Battle of Sodden, Yennefer ends up losing her magical powers after she uses the forbidden fire magic to defeat the Nilfgardian soldiers. Stripped of everything that she had gained by making the ultimate sacrifice of giving up her uterus, Yennefer’s mind was corrupted by the diabolical Deathless Mother, who promised Yennefer her powers back. However, the price she demanded in exchange for Yennefer’s magic was the life of Ciri, and Yennefer agreed, thereby betraying the girl who had no choice but to trust this woman as well as the man who loved her so earnestly.
However, when the time came to sacrifice Ciri and gain her powers back, Yennefer couldn’t go through with it because she had finally realized that one needn’t be a mother to feel motherly love. Yennefer hadn’t had felt no love for her mother ever since Tissaia had bought her from her father and brought her to Aretuza. This woman was Tissaia, an extremely powerful mage with whom Yennefer would often be at odds, but they would make up soon after. In a lot of ways, Tissaia became the mother that Yennefer didn’t have for the better part of her life. Now, it was Yennefer’s time to pay it forward, and she chose to do it with Ciri after almost sacrificing her to the accursed Deathless Mother. While trying to make up for her mistake of betraying Ciri and Geralt, Yennefer took up the responsibility of training Ciri to hone the magic she held inside her.
Season 3 saw a much deeper connection between Ciri and Yennefer, and even Geralt could be spotted watching the two women who made up his world joyfully laugh while skating over a frozen lake. This was progress that Geralt didn’t expect to see in the bond between Ciri and Yennefer, but it happened because the witch of Vengerberg had understood something very important. A child doesn’t need to be born from a woman’s womb for the woman to love them as their own, and Yennefer realized that she did love Ciri as she would a child who was born from her own womb. With this realization came a lot more than just fun and games, and responsibility followed. Responsibility to train the girl, make her harness the chaos she held inside her, teach her of the consequences of her action, and make her capable of withstanding the evils this world had to offer—these were the lessons Yennefer had to imbibe in her adopted daughter, Cirilla of Cintra. A mother-daughter relationship would obviously be incomplete without fights between the two, and the third season also saw Ciri and Yennefer fighting each other for differences of opinion.
However, what makes a relationship healthy is the ability to realize one’s mistakes and apologize later on, and both women did that when they met again after a while. Moreover, Yennefer started embodying the motherly nature she had learned from her mother figure, Tissaia, when she started calling Ciri by the name Yennefer used to be called. Yennefer referred to Ciri as “the ugly one” several times during their travel to Aretuza, and it was the same name Tissaia had entrusted to Yennefer when the latter was a student of magic. Ciri had become as much Yennefer’s daughter as she was a daughter to Geralt, and the three of them were a family, a fact all three of them knew and believed. The first thing Yennefer had done before leaving for the ball at Aretuza was put up a protective spell around the hut where Ciri had to be housed for the night, meaning her safety mattered to Yen more than anything else. She had finally embraced motherhood in the most complete sense, and in this way, she had been able to get over the obsession that had almost driven her mad in the past. Yennefer had finally accepted that even if she would never give birth, there was no child in the world that she would love more than this silver-haired princess named Cirilla of Cintra.