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

Cover of "Wicked: The Life and Times of t...
Cover via Amazon

“I never use the words humanist or humanitarian, as it seems to me that to be human is to be capable of the most heinous crimes in nature.” (Maguire 186)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire is a book with a rather interesting mission: to tell the story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in a more complete form, but with a different main character. The title gives this character away, so at least this aspect does not cover itself up with a shield of mystery, like so many other parts of the novel do.

I was surprised to find that this particular book was very captivating, despite it being a fantasy, which is  a genre I tend to stay away from. The first hundred pages or so are hard to get through, but the rewards that come later make even those initial “sufferings” worth it. Keeping in mind that this is a novel that was born from a children’s book, it is nonetheless amazing to observe how well it preserves the issues of society, as it has been, and as it still is. Many questions are raised, some about religion, political power, and others on a more individual basis, such as how much the history of a person influences their behavior.

The fact that the story is told from different characters’ perspectives (though always in a limited omniscient manner) gives the reader the impression, or perhaps the illusion, of having the entire story, complete and unbiased. In this manner, the children’s novel from which Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West stems is made into an unintended  lie, told by an uninformed story-teller. Curious how well this reflects the very experience many of us have when now, a adults, we look back upon out childhood.

But let’s turn it over to some of the lesson one can learn from this novel:

1)People’s gossip can be false.

It is vexing to think of how well each of us knows this, and yet, of amazingly we fail when attempting to infiltrate this knowledge into our actions. People say things, many and often. Some say straight out lies, and some end up saying untruthful things either because that’s how they first heard them, or because they misunderstood. It is hard to get pass our nature, which tends to trust others when finding out information. However, it is extremely important to try and get to the bottom of a story, particularly when the story is of importance to us.

If you’d like to read more on dealing with rumors, click here.

2)People are often pushed into their roles by the experiences they underwent in their lives.

This one’s just a little less known than the first , but just as obvious once you think about it. Sadly, it is easy to forget that many things contribute to creating each one of us, as an individual person. The kind of life we are born into, the type of people we are around, and the things that happen to us, are just three examples of how things outside our reach come to influence us. We are not always in control, and neither are the people around us. Indeed, there are things we can do to change our current situation, which means that we are not helpless. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the balance between the will and the experiences of an individual isn’t always a fair one.

3) Power is dangerous.

A little out of line with the other lessons, and already taught to us by history, but since it happens to be a very important part of the book, it had to be mentioned. Power has the power of changing us in ways that shouldn’t be possible, which is why it needs to be handled with much conscious thought and care.

An important theme in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, is the idea of evil. Does evil exist, or is it just a myth? More interestingly, once we know the reasons why someone who seemingly fits perfectly into our notion of wickedness became that way, do we still see them as such, or do they become victims of a life with a strange sense of humor?


3 thoughts on “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

  1. I do believe in the existence of evil. Mitigating circumstances often change the perception we have of people’s actions but the actions themselves can be evil and corrupting.
    The ability then for someone to choose a different life from that which they have known may be influenced positively or negatively by those experiences. Why some ‘choose’ or drift into one lifestyle or another may be down to will or opportunity.
    Inherent within people, I believe, is the capacity to choose right or wrong, based primarily on environmental factors, but not always. There are too many examples of people who opt out of or into a different lifestyle based on a sense of what they value and how they wish their life to be.
    You’ve got me thinking here and I’ve not given this full consideration before commenting. A very interesting post worthy of further consideration. I’ll give this more thought.x

    1. Thank you very much for your comment:) I agree with you when it comes to the isolated actions of an individual, as these can easily be called evil. It’s just that sometimes, after the reasons why someone did what they did become clear, it is harder for the rest to label the person as evil. This is by no means true of all cases, but when, for example, there’s a murderer who suffers from a mental illness, the lines between evil and not evil become blurred. It isn’t that the actions themselves “magically” turn from bad to good; they don’t even turn into “neutral” ones because they remain inherently disastrous, but with the person in question, there’s a different story.

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