Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

The previously untold "true" past of the Wicked Witch of the West, describing her early life and how she became known as "Wicked." Elphaba, born green and loathed by nearly everyone, has to discover who she is and where she fits in the land of Oz.
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The book begins with Elphaba's birth, describing her family and childhood. Then, Elphaba attends Shiz University at seventeen to begin her education. She is forced to room with Galinda, a beautiful, talented, well-to-do classmate. They hate each other initially, but eventually develop a friendship. Elphaba also meets Boq, a Munchkinlander in love with Galinda, and Fiyero, a shy Vinkus prince, and the four spend time together both inside and outside of school. One of Elphaba's mentors at Shiz is Doctor Dillamond, a Goat (in Oz, Animals--capitalized--are sentient members of society) involved in the Animal Rights movement. Elphaba is drawn to his politics until Doctor Dillamond is murdered just before making an important discovery. Galinda's chaperone, Ama Clutch, witnessed the murder, but is magically made ill and unable to tell the story. Galinda is struck particularly hard by his death, and starts using Dillamond's mispronounciation of her name: Glinda. After the murder, Elphaba's sister Nessa and a chaperone named Nanny come to Shiz to join Elphaba. Nessa was born without arms, and the girls' father gave her a pair of shoes covered in glass beads. After Nessa's arrival, Elphaba continues her father's work, and the students all continue their studies. Ama Clutch continues to get sicker, and so Glinda tries to use magic to heal her. It works temporarily, and Ama Clutch tells Glinda that Dillamond was murdered by the servant of their headmistress--herself a follower of the Wizard of Oz. Before they can act on this, Elphaba, Glinda, and Nessa are called to the headmistress's office, and offered positions in the Wizard's regime. Glinda loves the idea of power and aristocracy, but Elphaba is hesitant. Deciding something must be done about the whole situation, Elphaba travels to the Emerald City with Glinda to confront the Wizard. He dismisses all of their concerns, however, and though Glinda returns to Shiz, Elphaba decides to make her own way.
Nearly five years later, Fiyero (now a married father) meets Elphaba once again in the Emerald City. The two begin an affair, and he finds out that Elphaba is a member of the resistance. She is given a mission: to assasssinate the former headmistress of Shiz. She is unsuccessful, and the police take Fiyero in her place. Assuming that he was murdered, Elphaba flees the City and becomes injured.
After being in a year-long coma and recovering after for about six months, Elphaba makes her way to Fiyero's former home with a boy named Liir (she claims no relation, but it is hinted that she is really his mother). The two somehow become integrated into the lives of Fiyero's widow and children, and Elphaba resumes the study of magic. When Liir nearly dies in a game with Fiyero's son, Elphaba's outburst of anger magic kills the boy, and she realizes that she cares for Liir. Liir then claims that a Fish (possibly the Shiz headmistress in disguise) told him that he is the son of Fiyero. The family starts to fight, and Elphaba decides to take her leave and visit her sister, now in a government position in Munchkinland. She finds that Nessa is now a witch (and accidentally coins the nickname "Wicked Witch of the East"), but Nessa promises to pass on the silver shoes. During her visit, Elphaba meets with her father and discovers that he is most likely not biologically related to either Elphaba or Nessa. Trying to come to terms with this, Elphaba returns to Fiyero's home. She finds that her family was taken because she was not there to protect them.
Seven years after returning, a storm drops a house on Nessa, killing her (this is where the events of "The Wizard of OZ" begins) and starts a Munchkinland civil war. Elphaba then meets with the Wizard to try and get her family back, but is unsuccessful. On her way home, Elphaba is told that the Wizard is her true father. Elphaba soon learns that the Wizard sent Dorothy and her friends to kill her, but convinces herself that the Scarecrow is actually Fiyero, somehow alive. Once Dorothy enters the castle, she only wants to apologize for killing Nessa, but when Elphaba (angry and in despair) sets her own dress on fire, Dorothy tries to put it out with water, of course melting her.
Best part of story, including ending: I loved the new twist on a familiar story, that someone I grew up knowing as a villain is now sympathetic.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was the ending, when Dorothy enters the castle to apologize for killing Nessa. By having Dorothy tossing the water simply to put out a fire, it made it so neither Elphaba nor Dorothy came off as a villain, which made it even more tragic.

Opinion about the main character: I liked Elphaba's sense of self--even when she was treated as an outsider, she stayed true to her values and tried to help people that hated her.

The review of this Book prepared by Clarissa Lynn a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Gregory Maguire reimagines L. Frank Baum's world of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba is born with the dual disabilities of green skin and a severe allergy to water. The daughter of a preacher and a philandering hedonist, little Elphaba is an outcast in Munchkinland. When she leaves home to attend college in Gillikin, the north of Oz, she rooms with her future archnemesis, Glinda, a shallow and pampered socialite. Elphaba discovers in college both an affinity for the life sciences and a political passion for fighting the dictatorial Wizard of Oz, whose edicts have stripped sentient Animals of their basic rights.

When she leaves college, Elphaba becomes a freedom fighter amidst the corruption of the Emerald City. But when her first true love falls victim to a political assassination, she vanishes to western Oz, the land of Winkies, and, disillusioned and embittered, reinvents herself as the Witch of the West. Elphaba finds a sort of peace among the Winkies until the day a tornado lands a foreign little girl and her dog in Oz, accidentally killing Elphaba's sister. When Glinda foolishly send the little girl to the Emerald City, the child may inadvertently play into the oppressive power of the Wizard and Elphaba must take action against the foreigner and protect the land of Oz.
The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme

Wicked is the story of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west in The Wizard of Oz. Her tale begins with an adulterous conception - a travelling stranger gives a strange potion to her mother. Much of her unhappy childhood is skipped. She has green skin and is allergic to water, so of course she's regarded as a freak. Her sister, the wicked witch of the east, was born with no arms, so she too is looked on unfavorably. But the two go off to college, and meet with all manner of beings in this fantasyscape. It is in college that Elphaba develops a desire for political change. She ends up dropping out and living incognito in the city of Oz, where she takes a lover. The next portion of the novel describes her adulthood in yet another land where she evolves into her reputation, biologically engineering monkeys with wings, taking jaunts on her broomstick and hearing about Dorothy and her mission.

The review of this Book prepared by Krisha Williams

"Wicked" takes the reader to the land of Oz--only this time from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba. Elphaba, is portrayed bu the author as a sympathetic character despite her ugliness. The Wizard is a corrupt politico and a tyrant. Galinda (later Glinda) is a something of a silly snobbish sorority girl type. Animals can speak and are an oppressed minority. The story begins with Elphaba's childhood where she is largely responsible for her younger sister, who has no arms. She goes off to the University, where she becomes involved in a revolutionary movement against the tyranical wizard and his minions.

This is not a children's book. Maguire uses the events and the characters of the original Baum novel to create a world that is quite the opposite of that.

The review of this Book prepared by Jack Goodstein

Gregory Maguire takes fans of the Wizard of Oz series to someplace they never expected, into the life and times of Elphaba, better known to us as the "Wicked Witch of the West". The story takes her from her modest birth from a munchkin family (where the parents are horrifed to see she has green skin), to her growing rivalry and love for her sister (later known as the "Wicked Witch of the East"). We see her as a child, coping with an oppresive society, which views the "Wizard of Oz" as a virtual dictator. Other characters we know, like Glinda, the "Good Witch of the North" are introduced as school friends of Elphaba when learning sorcery. Later, after school is over, she seems to vanish for a time, but returns to the Emerald City and helps in a failed revolt against the Wizard, striving for the freedom of Oz. She is later branded the "Wicked Witch" by the Wizard who is hoping to discredit her. After many losses, including that of a lover, she retires to the West, where her dead lover was ruler and takes over his castle. The well known role of Dorothy and Toto only play a very minor but important part at the end of the story, as we see how Dorothy is manipulated by the Wizard to bring about the end of his enemy.
The review of this Book prepared by Nicholas S. Stember

Chapter Analysis of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 10%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 40% Tone of book    -   cynical or dry-wit FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy world/fantasy past Coming of age    -   Yes Youngster becomes    -   a powerful magician Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student    -   mage/magician Age:    -   20's-30's If magical mental powers:    -   can talk to animals    -   can fly    -   can cast many different spells


Terrain    -   Mountains    -   Forests Earth setting:    -   20th century A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a primitive/fantasy society Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of touching personal anatomy    -   orgies    -   actual description of sex How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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