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

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(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

As with most novels, the more prominent themes in Wicked are entangled within and among important concerns for society; indeed, as Elphaba notes: "you can't divorce your particulars from politics". Therefore, issues of religion, Animal rights, and political unrest are entangled with issue of otherness, sexuality, body image, revenge, and perspective within the novel. Elphaba embodies the very notion of "otherness" because she is conceived half of Oz and "other world" and is a green woman. Moreover, Maguire includes several characters who both perceive and are perceived differently: Fiyero has "blue diamond skin"; Glinda is incapable of "seeing" or "considering" past her social standing in life; Boq is a Munchkinlander who will always be smaller than everyone else; Nessarose has no arms; and Dr. Dillamond is a Goat who can never fulfill his purpose in a human world. Moreover, the theme of otherness bleeds into issues of sexuality, which culminates in the Philosophy Club, a pornographic club in which characters of all sorts—Animals, men, women, Munchkinlanders and Vinkinus alike—join in confused orgy. As in this scene of confused sexual exchange, sexuality itself is an ambiguous notion throughout the text: Melina (Elphaba's mother) is a known harlot who sleeps with the wizard under an enchantment to conceive Elphaba; there is continual suggestion that Nessarose is fathered by both Turtleheart and Frex; and Elphaba herself is inconclusively female and "will not be touched below the waist by hands".