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Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

             Gregory Maguire's novel, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," allows readers to gain an entirely new perspective on the Wicked Witch of the West that is portrayed throughout L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Maguire gives the "wicked" witch a good bit of substance in his book, starting by giving her a name; Elphaba. The story begins with an explanation of her birth. She is born to a minister, Brother Frexspar, and Melena, of Colwen Grounds, who is a woman of nobility that leaves her comforts to live in Rush Margins with her preacher husband. Maguire makes a reference to the image of both "witch" and "woman" often throughout the novel, as Elphaba struggles with her own ongoing differences that she is born with that everyone immediately begins to look down upon her for (to begin with, she is born green). Further, Maguire works to incorporate the notions of social labeling and alienation of self image within his work; stating, "Now I just think it's our own lives that are hidden from us. The mystery - who is that person in the mirror - that's shocking and unfathomable enough for me." Elphaba is aware of how others see her and, at times, she is detached from herself and unable to identify with her own image, which is imposed upon her by outside "normal" forces. Shunned and treated with contempt by her own family from a very early age, Elphaba has difficulty forming close relationships with other people. Her own father believes that she is nothing more than a punishment from the Unnamed God for his religious failings as a minister. This feeling is further strengthened by Elphaba's aversion to water, which could, ironically, represent a refusal of baptism into his religion, known as Unionism. She never truly abides by her father's religion claiming that she believes she does not have a soul, therefore, there is no logical reasoning for her to follow a religion such as Unionism.

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