Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

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How does Elphaba's character develop throughout Wicked? Is she really "wicked," or does society just make her out to be?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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By the end of the novel, Elphaba is, in many ways, truly wicked. However, we can see clearly that she is a product of her upbringing and environment and was not always the witch that she became. Her malevolence and insanity are actually quite understandable given the trauma she endures over the course of her life.

Elphaba was born as the illegitimate daughter of the Wizard of Oz and Melena Thropp. She is born with green skin, an abnormality that causes her a great deal of grief in regard to her family. Though she is a product of rape, she believes that her mother's husband Frex, a Unionist minister, is her true father.

The trauma that first poisons Elphaba's mind is her observation of and eventual obsession with the fact that Frex favors Elphaba's younger sister, Nessarose. Nessarose is almost a caricature of religious piety, the ideal daughter for the dogmatic Frex. When Elphaba and Nessarose are in college, Frex sends Nessarose a pair of ruby slippers and Elphaba nothing. The slippers...

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