Wicked (novel)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Rick: What are you reading?
Kirsten: It's a queer-revisionist telling of The Wizard of Oz.

Rick: There already was a queer revision of The Wizard of Oz. It was called Wicked, and it was even gayer than the original!

A 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, and later a musical, Wicked is the story of Elphaba, who will one day become the Wicked Witch of the West. Yes, that Wicked Witch.

Elphaba was born with green skin after her mother had an encounter with a travelling businessman. Her mother gives birth to an armless child, Nessarose, and then later dies giving birth to Elphaba's third sibling, her brother, Shell.

When Elphaba is older, she goes to school at Shiz, and is roomed with the pretty, popular Galinda. At first Galinda is not happy about this.

Things change, however, when Professor Dillamond, their Talking Animal teacher, is found dead, soon after Animal hate speech started being promoted by faculty members prompting Galinda to change her name to Glinda in honour of him. Elphaba and Glinda become close compatriots and the former rescues a Lion cub brought in by his replacement, and gains a passion for fighting for Animal rights. Elphaba goes to the Emerald City to speak to the wizard of this, and her life changes forever. Events push the two friends along their paths towards becoming the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Not to be confused with the Australian Nightmare Fuel kid's books of the same name.

The book has been expanded into a series entitled The Wicked Years, with three sequels, revolving around Elphaba's possible son Liir and the Cowardly Lion, respectively. The 4th and final book was released November 11, 2011.

Wicked and its sequels contain examples of the following tropes:
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Glinda is made into a blonde, while she had dark hair in the books and red hair in the 1939 film.
  • Alternate Universe: The book is set in an alternate universe of both the Wizard of Oz movie and books series, which in themselves are alternate universes of each other. The musical for Wicked is also an alternate universe of the Wicked books.
    • Oz itself is implied to be an alternate universe version of the United States.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Several, Glinda and Elphaba to some extent (see Les Yay)
  • An Ice Person: Elphaba subconsciously freezes a river in order to rescue Chistery.
    • 3 Books later in Out of Oz Glinda and Rain use the Grimmerie to freeze a group of dragons that are being used to attack Munchkinland.
  • Arranged Marriage: Fiyero was married this way before entering Shiz. Not that this mattered too much.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: Elphaba keeps bees, and like in the original story she ends up sending them after Dorothy.
  • Bi the Way: Liir, Elphaba's father, and Turtleheart are the most obvious, but you can say that pretty much everyone is open for interpretation.
  • Body Horror: Illanora has her vagina sewed shut. Dear god.
  • Breather Episode: The third book staunchly refuses to move the plot at all, and presumably pretty much covers all the loose plot holes that aren't important to the ending of the next book.
  • But You Screw One Goat!: Played straight. Tibbet has sex with a male Tiger at the Philosopher's Club and is described as having 'never been the same.' He dies later of an unspecified illness.
    • The Cowardly Lion is married to Illanora but their marriage is a chaste one (for obvious reasons.)
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Munchinlanders try to invoke this with Dorothy. Glinda sent her to Wizard to prevent a whole mess it would create. Some Oz citizens believe this will happen with their previous ruler - Ozma and Elphaba shows her hatered to this trope a few times.
  • Church Militant: Nessarose, in the book; in the musical she's just an Obstructive Bureaucrat.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: As much as Dorothy might like to hand Nessarose's ruby slippers over to Elphaba, they won't come off, thinking that Galinda might have put a spell on them so they'd stay stuck to her feet.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Rain. Up to 11.
  • Convenient Coma: It is implied that Elphaba carried Liir to term through this.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Dillamond's death.
  • Crapsack World: This book basically takes every political interpretation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and makes them canon, with a spin and adds one hundred pounds of misery on everyone that means anything.
  • Downer Ending
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Again, mostly certainly subverted.
  • Deconstruction Fic. Of The Wizard of Oz.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Gender-flipped with Liir, who was raped by Candle while comatose.
  • Everyone Is Bi: In the book Oz seems to be a pretty sexually liberated world, and it's usually safe to assume a character is bisexual until proven otherwise.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Elphaba, sort of. Teaching monkeys to speak was probably good for them, but sewing on wings For Science!? That's rather morally gray.
  • Fanfic: Wicked appears to be more of a fan fiction of The Wizard of Oz books and movies as a whole. It says something that the book (and musical) retain quality and fame in spite of this.
  • Fantastic Racism: Both against Elphaba and the sapient Animals.
    • The area Elphaba comes to preside over in the West as the "Wicked Witch" is properly known as "The Vinkus". "Winkies" and "Winkie Country" are rather insensitive slurs for the yellow-loving folk.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Vinkus to Africa.
  • Filk Song: Hannah Fury has made a few of them.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Elphaba will become the Wicked Witch, her sister will be squashed by a farmhouse, the Wizard will leave...
  • Foreshadowing: One particular example said by Trism to Liir in the second book: "Are you just slow, or are you falling in love with me?"
  • Friend to All Living Things: Rain has shades of this.
  • Furry Confusion: Only the Animals (note the capital "A") are fully sapient, while the regular animals are just...well, animals. Further confused when Elphaba starts experimenting on animals to see if she can teach them to become Animals. Her monkeys seem to become nothing more than talking parrots, but the second book shows that Chistory became genuinely intelligent.
  • Heel Realization: The death of Doctor Dillamond in the book was a wake up call for Galinda to re-evaluate what's important in life and stop being obsessed with popularity and being such a dumb blond.
  • Language of Magic: The Grimmerie is full of this.
    • Elphaba can somehow read it without trying, but others find it trickier.
    • She does have to look hard to understand, as the words seem to move about the pages. Still does not make sense why being half-earthling would have anything to do with your ability to read a foreign language though.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Elphaba and the Wizard. Liir to Elphaba, but much less of a surprise, since it's a main theme of the second book.
  • Meaningful Name: Elphaba's name is a tribute to L. Frank Baum.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Dorothy has no idea about the problem with water. Elphaba accidentally gets her dress caught on fire, and the last words she hears are Dorothy saying "I'll save you!"
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: As Elphaba dies after being splashed by Dorothy, she sees visions of all the major people from her life.
  • Patchwork Fic: For copyright reasons, Wicked is supposed to be based on the original Oz books, but both the book and musical draw heavily from the MGM Wizard of Oz film.
    • Most glaring example? In the original book, the Wicked Witch of the West is not green.
  • Perspective Flip
  • Progressively Prettier: In the book, Elphaba's described as having stringy hair, a long nose, a mannishly strong jaw, and if it weren't for her being green, she wouldn't be much to look at. But in the musical, along with most book illustrations, and fan art, she's a generically cute girl whose only flaw is being green. Though to be fair, Elphaba is also compared to her mother a few times, as far as appearance; and Glinda at least at one point does describe her as beautiful (hat, dormitory).
    • That's probably in part because Fiyero says she's beautiful in her own way, both in the musical and the book. But still, she's not written as conventionally beautiful...
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Elphaba starts out sympathetic, but turns batshit insane.
  • Rape Is Love: Subverted, Liir is very distraught over losing his virginity while in a coma to a maunt who is now pregnant. But he stays with her out of obligation, although neither seem to really care much for each other.
  • The Scrappy: In-universe, nobody besides Dorothy can stand Toto. Not even the narrator.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The book ending. Every single sympathetic character is dead or no longer sympathetic, and the Wizard leaves for reasons mostly unrelated to their struggle. Elphaba fails at every single major initiative she attempts during her lifetime.
  • Shout-Out from A Lion Among Men:

Yackle: I was quite a looker in my time.
Brrr: Oh, had they invented time as long ago as that?
Yackle: A comedian. I come back from the very gates of death to be interviewed by a vaudeville wannabe. Bert Lahr got his start in vaudeville.

  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The much more cynical version.
  • Start of Darkness: For the Wicked Witch of the West
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Tip, in Out of Oz, is eventually revealed to be Ozma Tipperarius.
  • Too Much Information: Dorothy explains to Elphaba that she's been trying to remove Nessarose's slippers for days. Fair enough. But did she really have to mention how sweaty her socks had gotten from wearing the slippers for so long?
    • At one point in time, Fiyero thinks that one of his tattoos has rubbed off on Elphaba ...down there. Which means he has tattoos there as well. Fiyero is attractive, yes, but still: TMI...
  • Twice-Told Tale
  • Unable to Cry: One of the reasons why she grew up to be such a distant, cold, and antisocial was because of water burning her skin, causing her to be unable to cry without her tears painfully burning her face like acid.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Wizard.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: That scene in the philosophy club seems like it's some kind of metaphor... a metaphor for what we'll probably never find out.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Elphaba
  • Wham! Line: At the end of Son of a Witch: "He took her to the doorway and held her up in the warm rain. She cleaned up green."
    • Notably (and frustratingly), this is the very last line in the book.
    • This may or may not count. It had already been confirmed to the readers that Liir was Elphaba's son. By showing us his infant daughter was green, it confirms it to himself
  • What Is Evil?: A major theme in the book. After Elphaba bashes Madame Morrible's head in she attends a dinner party where all the guests sit around discussing the nature of evil, all of them having different opinions on exactly what evil is.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Underlined in heavy red crayon in the novel. It's hard out here for an Intellectual Animal.
  • Who Is This Guy Again?: It's pretty easy for a lot of people to forget about Elphaba's brother Shell. He wasn't mentioned much in the first book, and was cut completely from the musical, causing his sudden appearance in the second book quite a "oh yeahhhhh...." moment for some.
  • Word of Gay: Maguire has stated that "something" was going on between Elphaba and Glinda, but he doesn't specify what.
  • Yaoi Guys: Crope and Tibbet in the first book. In the second book Liir and Trism.