The Wicked Witch of the West (or simply The Wicked Witch) was the ruler of the Winkie Country in the Land of Oz. Elphaba was the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of OZ (musical).
The Wicked Witch had only one eye, but it was as powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere. She always carried an umbrella with her, and made a point to avoid contact with water. It was said that she was so wicked, the blood in her had dried up many years ago.
Long ago, the Wicked Witch conquered the Winkie Country with the help of the Winged Monkeys. She was a tyrannical ruler and made the Winkies her slaves. Once the Great Oz tried to recapture the Winkie Country, but with the help of the Winged Monkeys, she was able to fight him off.
After she had ruled the Winkies for many years, the Wizard of Oz sent Dorothy Gale and her companions to destroy the Witch. In self defense, she sent every creature she commanded:
- First she used the whistle around her neck to summon 40 Wolves to kill Dorothy and her friends. Scarecrow and Tin Woodman saw them coming and the Tin Woodman slew them with his axe.
- Then the Wicked Witch of the West blew her whistle twice and summoned 40 Crows to peck out the eyes of Dorothy and her friends. The Scarecrow defeated them by grabbing them and breaking their necks.
- Angered, the Wicked Witch blew her whistle three times and summoned a swarm of Black Bees to sting them to death. While Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion were covered in Scarecrow's straw, the Black Bees died when their stingers broke on the Tin Woodman.
- Then she sent a troop of Winkie slaves wielding spears to kill the group. They were scared away by the Cowardly Lion..
- Finally, she used the Golden Cap to call the Winged Monkeys a final time. They captured Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion, and destroyed the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman.
With Dorothy as her slave, the Witch tried to steal the powerful Silver Shoes from the girl. Dorothy became so angry that she threw a bucket of water on the Witch, which melted her into a brown, shapeless mass putting an end to her wickedness. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
In Magic Land the Witch of the West is named Bastinda.
The Witch has often been used by editorial cartoonists to represent an evil force. In subsequent Oz books, it is the Nome King who is the principal villain; the Wicked Witch of the West does not appear after the first book, and is rarely referred to again. Despite this, she makes frequent appearances in modern works based on Oz, and as such has been both reimagined and expanded upon a number of times.
The 1939 movie
In the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch, played by actress Margaret Hamilton, was stooped, green-skinned, and dressed entirely in black. In many people's minds, this representation of The Wicked Witch has become an archetype for human wickedness.
While this relationship is not mentioned in Baum's books, in the movie, the Witch is the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East, who is killed when Dorothy arrives in Oz. The Witch asks aloud, "Who killed my sister?" (albeit with more calculation than sorrow). As a result, The Wicked Witch of the West's role is made more prominent as she seeks revenge against Dorothy for killing her sister. When Dorothy claims the death was an accident, the Witch of the West replies, "Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents too." It is from this movie that popular culture gets the oft-quoted phrase, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!" Her other motivation is to get the powerful Ruby Slippers (changed from the Silver Shoes of the book). She often, but not always, flies on a broomstick, and has a crystal ball through which she can see happenings elsewhere.
The Witch also has a counterpart in the Kansas world: a rich, grumpy single woman named Almira Gulch who seeks to have Dorothy's dog, Toto, put down. There is some ambiguity as to whether Gulch turns into the Wicked Witch of the East or of the West in the Tornado scene when Dorothy sees her transform in the window. However, it can be argued both ways.
In Alexander Melentyevich Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City, her given name is Bastinda. March Laumer uses this name for the witch in his Oz books. Like in the 1939 movie, she is the sister of the other Wicked Witch. Her vulnerability to water seems to be not because of her evil, but something inherent; she said a death from water was predicted for her five centuries ago, and she avoided all contact for that long. Her melting is compared to snow - she disappears without a trace.
In "The Wiz", the Wicked Witch of the West is given the name Evillene, and is the malevolent ruler of the Winkies. She is the sister of Addaperle, Glinda, and Evamene, the other three witches of Oz.
Author Gregory Maguire's successful 1995 revisionist novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West takes the familiar Oz story and turns it on its head, with the Wicked Witch as the novel's protagonist and Dorothy as a hapless child. The Witch is named Elphaba (based on the initials LFB for L. Frank Baum with vowels added). While the moods of the book and the musical are different from each other, it is shown that she is not wicked. Born with hydrophobic green skin and shunned because of her differences, Elphaba is a misunderstood child who grows into a brooding and very mischaracterized young woman. Her parents are Frex and Melena, although towards the end of the book we find out that Frex isn't the true father, and that she is actually the daughter of the Wizard of Oz. Her half-sister, Nessarose, is a counterpart to the Wicked Witch of the East. She is an activist for Animal rights (Animals as opposed to animals, the capital letter meaning that they are sentient). She even experiments to see how much of a difference there is between animals and Animals.
Maguire's story was developed into a Broadway musical, Wicked, in 2003. Idina Menzel won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Elphaba.
The 2005 novel, Son of a Witch, is the sequel to Wicked, focusing upon Elphaba's purported son Liir, who attempts to live up to his legacy.
In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Miss Piggy plays all of the witches of Oz including The Wicked Witch of the West. Her basic attire was a homage of W.W. Denslow's illustration, with a "biker" theme. The eyepatch also covered a magical glass-eye that gave her visual powers. After Dorothy kicked her in the face, she disappeared down the drain leaving her magical eye.
In the VeggieTales episode "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's", the Witch is replaced by Chester the Bully (Gourdon), his Kansas counterpart being Bobby the Bully. At the end, the Bully gets wet but does not melt and his parents take him home after finding him in the Land of Ha's.
In the miniseries Tin Man, the character pertaining to the Wicked Witch of the book is named Azkadelia. She and DG are presented as sisters, both daughters of Lavender Eyes.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): Margaret Hamilton
- The Wiz (1978): Mabel King
- Wicked (2003): Idina Menzel as Elphaba
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005): Miss Piggy
- The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's (VeggieTales) (2007): Gourdon as Bobby the Bully and Chester the Bully
- Tin Man (2007): Kathleen Robertson as Azkadelia