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Good Witch Series: Elphaba

By Zan

[Snip] It all started when the musical Wicked open in October, 2003, derived from Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The fascinating premise to Maguire’s book is to tell the story of the Witches of Oz: but from the point-of-view of the Wicked Witch, and with the idea that she was actually the Good Guy of the story, a victim of really, really bad press. Maguire’s version turns, say, the beloved 1939 MGM Classic The Wizard of Oz on its head, by making the Witch of the West a Good Guy, and by turning the Wizard of Oz into a corrupt dictator and Glinda the Good into a morally conflicted individual. This does not diminish the Archetypal Power of the Film Original- or the Book Original- it simply adds (in the way that Mythological Story-Telling builds upon itself) a new, different, somewhat inverted, but therefore yielding: a New Perspective, upon the originals.

Wicked makes plain why Elphaba resonates so, as the show initially presents the Witch as the ultimate Geek-Girl: the Green-Skinned Outcast and Loner- but as the one who learns through her social isolation, the strength and fortitude necessary for the hard and lonely road before her. A preternaturally skilled individual in the Magickal Arts (how can this not resonate with any number of modern Neo-Pagans?), Elphaba is exploited by the Wizard of Oz, who (in a moment of severe political disillusion), she learns is not the kindly Governmental Head whom she had assumed, but is actually a despotic dictator- one who wishes to exploit Elphaba’s Magickal Powers for political gain.

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