Getting "Wicked"

By: James Laughlin

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

For reading for the next couple of weeks in class, we are going to be reading the book Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by Gregory Maguire. This book is a back story to the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum. This book tells the story of Elphaba, the eventual Wicked Witch of the West and Galinda, the eventual Good Witch of the North as they attend Shiz University and become friends. After they part their ways, several events lead them to discover themselves and they discover that their true power lies within themselves. This is a book of tragedy, love, magic, and suspense as you work your way through the novel. This novel was adapted as a Broadway musical called Wicked and can be seen in theaters across the globe today. Let's take a look at why this book is important for us as high schoolers to read...
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Themes:

Discrimination- Elphaba is hated against due to her skin color (green). This plagues her through most of the novel. White people are seen as a "superior" race. Short people (munchkins) are seen as inferior due to their height and are made fun of at several points in the novel (particularly by Galinda!). Elphaba and Fiyero are represented as an "interracial" couple in modern viewing.


Racism- Animals are seen as unworthy of given a proper title. Some animals have proper names, but are taken away by Madame Morrible and the Wizard. Many animals are killed due to being seen as inferior and not worthy of living an intelligent life.


Feminism- The power of women is very strong in the novel. Elphaba rises against the Wizard in a great plot to overthrow his power. Madame Morrible is a perfect example of a feminist. Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Galinda becomes "simply Glinda."


Religion/spirituality- Elphaba's father is a minister of the Unnamed God. The Clock of the Great Time Dragon is viewed as a pagan God and can tell the future. Elphaba represents atheism. The house falling on the Wicked Witch of the East is seen as a Divine intervention. Dorothy is seen as a Savior.

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Why this book?

I chose this book because it is a reflection of how wickedness is viewed through the eyes of the beholder. Everything is not what it seems in a person's appearance. As the saying goes, "You can't judge a book by its cover!" This novel spins a young adult view onto a child's classic and will leave you looking at both the book and the movie in a different light.

Why this book is important to high schoolers?

This novel teaches that cliques are detrimental to society and should be crushed. This novel also encourages the reader to break away from social stigmas and strive to be "outside the box." This book will make you look at every person you meet in a different way, and it just might make you re-evaluate your friendships and relationships. This novel will leave you questioning exactly what is "wickedness" and "goodness" and it will make you question if the people we consider wicked are actually good and if the people we consider good actually wicked? You will think when you read this novel!

"People who claim that they're evil are usually no worse than the rest of us...It's people who claim that they're good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of."