The Life and Times - Sample Essay
Elphaba does not stop questioning ideas when she began going to school. Once, in a poetry reading, she hears Madame Morrible’s Quell that had the line, “Animals should be seen and not heard,” which generates a reaction from many of the people present. Elphaba strongly opposes Madame Morrible, and later the Wizard’s ideas, and becomes a strong supporter of animal rights. Later, she decides to leave school to be in hiding as an activist. Elphaba has witnessed many events that led her to her decision to leave school.
One of this is concerning a professor called Doctor Dillamond, a goat, who has died from a slit throat, but is found out to be murdered. When Elphaba can not take the injustices to animals anymore, she goes to the Wizard. “… Please, sir. The hardship on the Animals is more than can be borne. It isn’t just the murder of Doctor Dillamond. It’s this forced repatriation…. What’s happening is immoral—” “I do not listen when anyone uses the word immoral,” said the Wizard… “If not immoral, then what word can I use to imply wrong? ” said Elphaba. “Try mysterious and then relax a little.
It’s not for a… citizen to assess what is wrong…” said the Wizard. “But then nothing would keep me from assassinating you, did I not know what wrong was. ” (p. 175) An important thing to consider in this exchange is the political undertone of the Wizard’s replies to Elphaba. The Wizard insists that he has not done anything wrong, and speaks to Elphaba and Glinda condescendingly. This attitude of the Wizard as a dictator would somehow remind readers of the politics of religion, such as the dogmas of certain religions, and the categorization of all actions between right and wrong, with no middle ground.
Elphaba confirms with the Wizard that Madame Morrible is indeed a fellow conspirator of the Wizard. Morrible teaches school girls in Shiz to employ them to help the Wizard with his cruel policies. With this knowledge, she decides to become a rebel. This is the beginning of Elphaba’s life as an “evil” character, though outside the context of the story, what she has done was not really bad. She resists the Wizard, some sort of political head of the land of Oz, and thus becomes a rebel to their government, but that is not entirely wrong.
Still, with a leader dictating his people which people are bad and which people are good, Elphaba is considered evil. Remember that the society dictates what is evil and what is good. And the society does not know what Elphaba is fighting for. Elphaba is an Other physically and ideologically, meaning that she both looks different and acts different. Green is the color of her skin, and she resists the Wizard. Not all people in Oz resist or are willing to resist the Wizard, perhaps because they are afraid of him.
She also has magical powers that she learned from Shiz, which she is almost ashamed of, because she is reminded of Madame Morrible and her attempts to manipulate Elphaba and the other girls to serve the Wizard. For all of this, she is branded a witch, because in Oz, a witch is magical, different, and is against “goodness”. The final blow to Elphaba that made her become a “witch” is when her sister Nessarose was killed, and the magical ruby shoes were given by Glinda to Dorothy. There are a lot of issues concerning the shoes, both political and personal.
Later, in the second confrontation of Elphaba and the Wizard, the Wizard admits all his schemes, including the reason why he had come to Oz. Elphaba then hunts down Dorothy to get the shoes, runs into some old school friends, and “kills” Madame Morrible, not knowing that Madame Morrible has died naturally before she got there. Talking to Boq, Elphaba tells him she has killed Morrible. Boq responds, “You had worked to protect the Animals,” said Boq. “But you did not intend to sink to the level of those who brutalized them. ” I have fought fire with fire,” said the Witch. , and I ought to have done it sooner! ” (p. 376)
Elphaba transformed from being an idealistic and brave girl to cynical “evil” witch. Until the end, though she claimed herself to be a witch, she still had the same ideals as she did when she was young, and she still fought for them. In reality, Elphaba might not be considered as evil, though she may be branded as a rebel or a fanatic. The character of Elphaba is an example of how goodness, when combined with ideals and courage, becomes extreme to the point of becoming a rebel. She is not balanced; she is both extreme, wanting to make Oz a better place, and at the same time wanting extreme changes in the society by forceful means.
So in reality, how can one balance the good and bad? That is a hard question to answer. Elphaba tried, and whether she succeeded or not is another question. To balance good and bad in one’s life, one must think carefully of decisions to be made, think of the greater number of people who will benefit, and learn how to accept things that cannot be avoided. There is a middle ground in everything, even if it is hard to achieve.
Maguire, Gregory. (1995). Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York: Harper Collins.