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

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Elphaba bites people from time to time with her very prominent teeth, she does not openly torment others.  She is not given very many opportunities as a child to develop her social skills, and when she is, children shun her as do their parents because of her green skin and different appearance. 

She is protective of her sister, and aside from the ocassional nip, seems loving enough.  She is detached from others based on her experiences and treatment received from others.

At college, again she is the butt of many jokes, including, but not limited to, her roommate's vow to give her a makeover.

As with so many stories (Frankenstein, Columbine High School, etc.) she seems to have been a harmless innocent until she was subjected to endless ridicule and prejudice.  After so long, she retaliates.  We all have the potential for evil within us...

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good question.  Looking at Elphaba's early years, there is nothing to suggest that she is wicked.  She is victimized by other children, but does not retaliate.  She does engage sympathy and form connections.  However, her alienation and the discrimination she suffers under do create lasting scars.  At university, she begins as apathetic and aloof.  She slowly opens up, only to be misused and, in many ways, abadoned.  Her passionate protection of Animals brings only pain her way.  After university, we see this pattern continue.  Her intimate connections and her passionate causes bring her only pain and loneliness.  Eventually, she is a victimized and bitter middle-aged women, a product of prejudice and a corrupt society.