The Wizard, Glenda, Elphaba, and the Modern Subjectivity of Good and Evil


This past week Leah and I finally went out for my birthday (just a month and a half late) to see “Wicked” at the Pantages Theater.  We had originally intended to go on my birthday, but Micah thwarted those plans by becoming highly ill.  Though he tried the same trick this time, we were still able to get away.  I’ve only been able to see one Broadway play before, and that was “Les Miserables” in New York.  I’ve been in love with the play since.  So it was with great anticipation that we dressed up, drove into Hollywood, and enjoyed a night at the theater!

We were both completely blown away by the musical.  The songs were great, the dialogue  was hilarious, the costumes were eye popping, and the set itself was great.  We had great seats that let us be close enough to really see the faces of the actors, but not so close that we would get a stiff neck or have to turn our head to follow the action on the stage.  We had a pretty good knowledge of how the play went, since a high schooler (thanks Katie!) had given me the soundtrack as a gift last year.

220px-stephdg2005otc.jpgFor those of you who are not familiar, “Wicked” is about what happened in Oz before Dorothy touched down.  It is the story of Glenda, the good witch, and Elphaba, who would become the wicked witch of the west.  The play goes into the story of how they were roommates at college, loathed each other at first, but as time went by, grew to be very close and understand each other.  Soon they are called to meet the Wizard, and Elphaba quickly begins to understand what is going on and who the Wizard is.  This realization drove her to rebel against what the Wizard was doing, and the perception of her being evil was mostly the result of the smear campaign the Wizard and his press secretary put on her.

kate__ana.jpgAs we were watching, Leah and I were both struck with the total subjectivity of truth in the play.  Everyone used to think that the Wicked Witch of the West was pure evil, but as you watch the play, you begin to realize that she was just a victim of circumstances at the worst.  At the best, she was a misunderstood hero.  The only reason we feel the way we do about her is because she was unfairly characterized in such a light.

This is nothing out of the ordinary for today’s society.  In fact, this is par for the course when it comes to our culture.  Truth has become something that is perceived as subjective.  What is truth for one person, may not be truth for the next.   Truth may be truth only because that’s the message that you’ve been told.  And people who appear to be evil may be that way for a very noble reason.  They are just a victim of their circumstances.   Just some interesting thoughts from a great night at the theater!


6 comments on “The Wizard, Glenda, Elphaba, and the Modern Subjectivity of Good and Evil

  1. BethsMomToo says:

    The author of the book upon which this play is based [ Gregory Maguire] has a major theme going in all his novels. I read his and enjoyed his first book, based upon “Cinderella’. He takes a well-known fairy tale and places in it a non-fairy tale setting. Then he twists the story around so that you no longer know who the bad guy is or who the good guys are. Just as in real life, everyone has elements of both within them. That’s what I bring away from his books – that we should realize we don’t always have the entire story about what someone is really like. No one is totally bad, nor is anyone totally good.

    You make a good point, though, about taking the traditional evil character and making us sympathize with her by making excuses for her bad behavior. Not a good thing to do. One can certainly be empathetic about what someone may have experienced, but never condone the evil someone does. On the other hand…how many times do you hear a young mom excuse their child’s bad behavior by saying, “He’s just tired…” [NOT YOUR young mom, of course! I do, however, believe I was guilty of saying that a number of times about MY little boy… ;)]

  2. BethsMomToo says:

    I AM curious … was the Wicked Witch always green or did she become that way over time? I know if I had green skin and a pointy nose and had a roommate who looked like Glenda, it would be a challenge!

  3. ehudadams says:

    OK, I’m going to give away a HUGE plot twist, so if you’d like to NOT know, don’t look:

    Elphaba was always green. Her dad was the mayor of Munchkinland and her mom had an affair with a guy who gave her a green liquid to drink. That green liquid made her green when she was born. But the twist is this: the man who was her real father was actually the Wizard of Oz!

  4. JBlank10890 says:

    After reading this blog I totaly agree with everything you have said. I’m doing a project for school on this and your outlook on Elphaba was just what I needed. I beileave she had wickedness forced upon her, when in fact she is just a wonderfull woman who cares deaply about her friends and loved ones. Wicked was and will always be the best musical I have ever seen!

  5. ehudadams says:

    me thinks you misunderstand what i was saying. I was saying that the play makes you feel bad for her and see she is a victim of circumstances. I was saying it was consistent with what society saying that truth is fairly subjective and that people are not sinful in and of themselves, but just victim’s of circumstances.

    Don’t get me wrong, I liked the musical, I just thought it was funny that it seems totally natural for them to redefine the way we see her.

  6. Agnes says:

    Elphaba’s father was not the mayor of munchkinland. He was a minister!

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