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Wicked Witch of the West

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"Now, the Wicked Witch of the West had but only one eye, yet this eye was as strong and powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere within the Winkie Country of Oz. So, as the Witch sat in the door of her castle, she happened to look around and saw Dorothy and her companions walking on her land. They were a long, long distance off, but the old Wicked woman was very, very angry to find trespassers in her country..."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
"I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too! "
―Wicked Witch of the West (1939)
OzIcon
Wicked Witch of the West
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Profile
Title Wicked Witch of the West
Gender Female Witch
Species Bad Witch
Origin Oz
Residence Land of Oz/Winkie Country
Affiliation L. Frank Baum, Land of Oz, Good Witch of the North, Wicked Witch of the East, Glinda, Wizard, Mombi, Dorothy Gale, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, Winged Monkeys, Golden Cap, Silver Shoes, Ruby Slippers, Winkies
First Appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)


The Wicked Witch of the West (or Witch of the West, or Wicked Witch for short) is a fictional character invented by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz Legacy. Her first and only appearance is in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. She is introduced in the twelfth chapter of the novel titled, The search of the Wicked Witch, where she serves strictly as the most significant antagonist in the plot of the story. In the novel, Baum never named his Wicked Witch and she is only known by her title of position.

Despite being such an iconic character, in Baum's subsequent Oz books, it is the infamous Nome King from a neighboring kingdom, who is the principal villain throughout the sequel stories. In the Oz books the Wicked Witch of the West is rarely even referred to again after her death in the first book by being liquefied by the stories child protagonist and heroine named Dorothy Gale of Kansas.

The Wicked Witch's most popular depiction was in the classic 1939 Hollywood musical movie loosely based on Baum's book, The Wizard of Oz, where she was portrayed by late actress Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton's iconic characterization introduced green boogeyman skin and this has been continued in later literary and dramatic representations of Oz, including Gregory Maguire's highly praised revisionist Oz novel titled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. In Maguire's story the Witch's name is "Elphaba" who is green due to her mother consuming "Green Miracle Elixir" while she was pregnant. In the 2013 Oz film by Walt Disney pictures Oz the Great and Powerful, the pre-Wicked Witch of the West is a young and naive "Good Witch" named Theodora, who tragically turns green from a green posion apple that causes her heart to shed itself from all its goodness. In the Spring 2014 story arc of the popular television series Once Upon a Time, the Wicked Witch is named "Zelena", who turns green due to her jealousy over a newly arrived Dorothy who became a threat to the prophecy involving Oz's four Witches. ("Green with Envy").

  • Surprisingly, in the original book by Baum it never states that the Wicked Witch of the West has any type of peculiar skin condition or discoloration such as being green. It does state that the Wicked Witch is so old that all the blood in her body dried up long before Dorothy's unexpected arrival. And like all versions she is highly allergic to H2O for reasons never explained or elaborated upon.

Wicked In the West

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The Wicked Witch of the West by W. W. Denslow 1900.

"Which road leads to the Wicked Witch of the West?" asked Dorothy. "Road?, There is no road," answered the Guardian of the Gates in a surprised tone. "No one ever wishes to go that way." "How, then, are we to find her?" inquired the girl. "That will be easy," replied the man, "for when as soon as she knows you are walking upon her territory, in the country of the Winkies she will find you, and make you all her slaves." "Perhaps not," said the Scarecrow, "for we mean to destroy her under the Wizard's request." "Oh, well that is different," said the Guardian of the Gates. "No one has ever destroyed her before, so I naturally thought she would make slaves of you, as she has of all the rest. Those who dare to travel in her country are rarley ever seen or heard from ever again. But take care; for she is Wicked and cruel indeed and may not allow you to destroy her if she can help it. She has many terrifying pets and many dark, malevolent powers so beware. Keep to the West, where the sun sets, and you cannot fail to find her, because she will find you! Good luck, for you shall all need it..."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Castle of the wicked witch by ginovanta-d4b9ro8

A faithful illustration of the Wicked Witch of West's yellow Winkie castle as described in Baum's book from 1900.

The Wicked Witch of the West is the malevolent ruler of the western quadrant in the magical Land of Oz known as the Winkie Country. Interestingly, in Baum's original book of 1900, it is said the Wicked Witch lives in a yellow castle that is beautiful. Her home is described as consisting of long hallways carpeted with yellow velvet rugs, yellow silken draperies are placed at the castle windows and attractive yellow antiques and decor decorated nearly every room. It is indeed a luxurious setting instead of being the sinister fortress of medieval darkness shown in the 1939 movie.

"Dorothy quickly obeyed the old cruel woman and followed her past the great halls, which were all carpeted in yellow velvet. Finally, Dorothy was lead through many of the beautiful yellow rooms in the Wicked Witch's home until they came to the kitchen, where the Witch bade her clean the pots and kettles and sweep the floor and keep the fire fed with wood. Dorothy went to work meekly, with her mind made up to work as hard as she could; for she was glad the Wicked Witch had decided not to kill her or her dog. "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

In the original version of the story, the Wicked Witch of the West was not related to the Wicked Witch of the East, but leagued together with her, as well as the Wicked Witch of the South and the Wicked Wich of the North known as simply "Mombi", to conquer the Land of Oz and divide it among themselves in four sections, long before the Wizard arrived, or even Glinda the Good surfaced. This is recounted in L. Frank Baum's fourth Oz book titled Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, published in 1908.

Here, the Wicked Witch of the West shows no interest in the death of the Eastern Witch, and all she cares about is obtaining her magical Silver Shoes which will increase her own evil powers that will help her in her task to successfully win her battles and ruthlessly dominate or enslave more of the Ozians who are forced to work for her and obey her every command. When the Winkies fail her, we are told she "beat them well with a strap." She also seems to have the Winkies actively working for her, though Baum never tells us what exactly this work is. Perhaps she was working on a way to defy the Wizard. Some Oz fans also have suggested the idea that she cast a spell upon the Winkie Country to stop any rain to fall near her territory, as the land of the Winkies was a desolate and dry place with a harsh climate.

Baums' One Eyed Witch

W. W. Denslow's illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz depict her as a paunched old hag with three pigtails and an eye-patch. L. Frank Baum himself specified that she only had one eye, but that it "was as strong and powerful as a telescope", enabling the witch to see what was happening in her kingdom from her castle windows. Other illustrators, such as Paul Granger, placed her eye in the center of her forehead, as a cyclops. Usually, she is shown wearing an eye patch, however some illustrations incorrectly show her with two eyes.

Most of her power resides in the creatures she controls that do her dirty work. She has a pack of hungry, wild wolves, a swarm of black killer bees, a flock of black crows with sharp beaks to peak put the eyes of their targets and an army of male Winkies who are her slaves. In the book she also possesses the enchanted Golden Cap encrusted with real rubies and diamonds that run across its 24 Karat gold brim. This special cap compelles the creatures called Winged Monkeys of Oz to obey her on three occasions when she speaks the caps incantation. First, the witch commanded the creatures to help her enslave the Winkies and to seize control of the western section of Oz. Second, she made the winged monkeys drive the Wizard out of the Winkie Country, when he became the dominant ruler and even attempted to overthrow her but was unsuccessful.

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The Wicked Witch of the West uses the magic charm of the Golden Cap. 1900

When Dorothy Gale and her three companions were sent by the Wizard to destroy her, in exchange for their wishes to be granted, the Wicked Witch saw them coming, gradually approaching her castle. Though they were a long distance off, she was very angry to see trespassers on her territory. So, in defense she immediately attacked the wandering group with her pack of wolves, crows, black bees, and her group of Winkie slaves. Each of these attempts were thwarted, but the protagonists are eventually subdued by the Wicked Witch's third and final permitted use of the Golden Cap. In the book Baum siad that she "destroyed" anyone who had ever attempted to challenge her other than the Wizard. Yet interestingly, in Baum's book the Wicked Witch could not directly kill Dorothy because the girl was protected by the Good Witch of the North's magical kiss upon her forehead. She therefore settles for enslaving Dorothy like the rest of the Winkies and tries to force the Cowardly Lion into submission by starving him, though Baum states that Dorothy sneaks him food in the evening during their captivity. Upon seeing the magical Silver Shoes on the girl's feet, the Wicked Witch of the West decided to formulate a plan to successfully steal them from Dorothy and thereby acquire even more power.

The Wicked Witch of the West did not carry a broom in the novel, but rather an umbrella, which she uses on one occasion to strike Dorothy's dog Toto to install fear within the girl. The Umbrella makes a lot more sense than a broomstick because it was also probably used to protect and shield herself against any water attacks. Though no one knows that she is allergic to water. Her nature is a self entitled one and yet somewhat slightly cowardly. Despite her immense power, she avoids face-to-face contact with her enemies, and is frightened of Dorothy at first when she sees the girl is wearing the magic Silver Shoes. She is also afraid of the dark in Baum's original story for reasons never revealed. For that reason, the Witch never tried to steal the shoes while Dorothy was sleeping in her chamber cell during the dark night. Despite her fear of water and the dark, the Wicked Witch of the West was one of the most powerful witches in all of Oz. In ensuing Oz books, her power is described as having been so great that even Glinda the Good Witch of the South secretly feared her at one point.

When she does finally succeed in acquiring one of the shoes by making Dorothy trip over an invisible bar while she was working in her kitchen, the little girl angrily threw a bucket of water onto the Wicked Witch after demanding her shoe back. This caused the Wicked Witch to dissolve away like brown sugar and melt to death.

L. Frank Baum did not explain precisely why water had this effect on her, nor did he ever imply that all evil witches could be likewise destroyed by something as simple and common as water. However, the wicked witch Mombi is similarly disposed of in The Lost King of Oz and the wicked witch Singra is clearly afraid of the same fate in the early chapters of the Wicked Witch of Oz. The most likely explanation of Baum making water the Achilles Heel of these witches is the long held belief amongst major religions that water is effective for purifying the soul and combating evil.

"Now the Wicked Witch had a great longing to have for her own the Silver Shoes which the girl always wore. Her bees and her crows and her wolves were lying in heaps and drying up, and she had used up all the power of the Golden Cap; but if she could only get hold of the Silver Shoes, they would give her more power than all the other things she had lost. She watched Dorothy carefully, to see if she ever took off her shoes, thinking she might steal them. But the child was so proud of her pretty shoes that she never took them off except at night and when she took her bath. The Witch was too much afraid of the dark to dare go in Dorothy's room at night to take the shoes, and her dread of water was greater than her fear of the dark, so she never came near when Dorothy was bathing. Indeed, the old Witch never touched water, nor ever let water touch her in any way. But the wicked creature was very cunning, and she finally thought of a trick that would give her what she wanted. She placed a bar of iron in the middle of the kitchen floor, and then by her magic arts made the iron invisible to human eyes. So that when Dorothy walked across the floor she stumbled over the bar, not being able to see it, and fell at full length. She was not much hurt, but in her fall one of the Silver Shoes came off; and before she could reach it, the Witch had snatched it away and put it on her own skinny foot. The wicked woman was greatly pleased with the success of her trick, for as long as she had one of the shoes she owned half the power of their charm, and Dorothy could not use it against her, even had she known how to do so. The little girl, seeing she had lost one of her pretty shoes, grew angry, and said to the Witch, "Give me back my shoe!" "I will not," retorted the Witch, "for it is now my shoe, and not yours." "You are a wicked creature!" cried Dorothy. "You have no right to take my shoe from me." "I shall keep it, just the same," said the Witch, laughing at her, "and someday I shall get the other one from you, too." This made Dorothy so very angry that she picked up the bucket of water that stood near and dashed it over the Witch, wetting her from head to foot. "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
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Dorothy slays the Wicked Witch! 1900

  • After the death of the Wicked Witch of the West the Winkies asked the Tin Woodman to become the Emperor of Oz's western quadrant. After Dorothy and Toto finally went back to Kansas, he agreed and the Winkies built him a tin castle to live in as a gift to their new loving monarch ruler.

Death of the Wicked Witch of the West

It is stated in Baum's book that the Wicked Witch of the West was so old and Wicked that all the blood in her body dried up long before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz takes place. And when she fnally comes into contact with water, it burns her skin like acid and she dissolves into a puddle on the floor. Baum described it as "melting away like brown sugar." In the beginning of the story when Dorothy's farmhouse fell on the Wicked Witch of the East, her body soon caved in and crumbled to dust under the fallen establishment. (The feet of the dead Wicked Witch had disappeared entirely and nothing was left but the Silver Shoes.) The Good Witch of the North explains that "She was so old that she dried up quickly in the sun." So whatever mysterious magic potion or spell that was holding the Wicked Witch of the East together was possibly something the Wicked Witch of the West used to keep herself alive as well, even though Baum never elaborated upon this aspect. But when water touched her skin, her old withered body began to break down due to exposure to the H2O moisture, as did exposure to sunlight to the one of the East, each cell soaking up the water like a sponge and pulling away from the rest of her body until there was nothing left to pull away from. It would be a HORRIBLE way to go! However horrible it was; it was a quick death nonetheless, and everyone in Oz could breathe a sigh of relief when her Wicked reign came to an end and she was finally gone for good.

"You Cursed Brat! Look what you've done...I'm melting, melting! Oh what a world, what a world, who would've thought that a good little innocent girl like you could destroy my Beautiful Wickedness. Oh, it burns, look out, I'm going...I'm goooooing...awww....aaaaw...."
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Appearances

Wizard of Oz 1910

In L. Frank Baum's 1910 independent Oz film of The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch is named "Momba".

The Wizard of Oz 1939

In the MGM musical, the Wicked Witch of the West is portrayed by late actress Margaret Hamilton who introduced green skin to the iconic character. Hamilton's characterization is the most popular version of Oz's western villain.

The Wiz

In both the 1974 Broadway Musical and 1978 Motown movie , the Wicked Witch of the West is named Evillene is a tyrant in this version. Similar too the 1900 book the Winkies are her slaves. Both verisons are different and similar. The broadway version she lives in a dark castle with the winkies slaving away and is in a terrible mood. She is dressed in a red dress with many tacky or gaudy items glued on them.

Wicked 1995

Elphaba Thropp is the green skinned protagonist in the popular book titled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by author Gregory Maguire published in 1995.

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Elphaba Thropp confronts a frightened Dorothy Gale.

Elphaba is also the main character of the very successful Broadway Musical of the same name. Rather book or stage adaptation the story itself is a much more mature version of the first American Fairytale; The Wizard of Oz, which combines many key elements from both the iconic 1939 movie by MGM and the original book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by children's author L. Frank Baum published in 1900. The story is not seen through the eyes of Baum's original Oz protagonist, the Kansas farm girl known as Dorothy Gale, who is neither the hero nor villain here. Dorothy is just a mere outsider, unwillingly thrown into a world she knows little to nothing about.

Instead, everything that happens in Wicked's version of the magical land of Oz revolves around the social outcast and tortured soul named Elphaba, aka "Elphie". The plot follows her life journey, focusing on her thoughts, trials, tribulations, her meaningful relationships and eventual decent into Wickedness and how it changed the land of Oz forever. Despite being the protagonist to the reader of the novel or viewer of the play, Elphaba eventually becomes viewed as the antagonist who rebels against the repression in Oz. Her strength to stand up for what she believes in leads to her being viewed by many people throughout Oz as "Wicked," thus, ultimately leading to her tragic demise. Despite her sad fate, and tarnished reputation due to the matter of Dorothy, Elphaba becomes known by many others as an underground legend and iconic activist for Animal rights in Oz long after her tragic death.

  • Author Gregory Maguire payed homage to Baum and formulated Elphaba's unique name out of L. Frank Baum's name, taking the phonetic pronunciation of his initials: hence, L.F.B became El-pha-ba.

Syfy's Tinman 2009

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Syfy's Tinman.

The beautiful Witch Azkadellia takes the role of the Wicked Witch of the West 100 years after Dorothy Gale defeated the original of the Outer Zone aka Oz.

Oz the Great & Powerful 2013

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Theodora

In this Oz prequel to the 1939 musical, Theodora is a beautiful, naive Good Witch who is "protected" by her powerful sister Evanora who both live in the magical Land of Oz. Shortly after the King of Oz's death she wanders alone throughout Oz and ultimately finds and quickly falls in love with Oscar Diggs aka Oscar Oz, the "pre-Wizard" who she believes has come to Oz to fulfill the long awaited prophecy. However, Theadora's innocence works against her as she is manipulated into becoming Wicked by evil forces in disguise, who are much more closer to home than she realizes.

Once Upon a Time 2014

Main Article: Zelena
Zelena-Trying-On-Reginas-Dress-3x13-Witch-Hunt

In the hit ABC TV Show Once Upon A Time, Zelena the Wicked Witch of the West is the half-sister to the Evil Queen Regina, having been born out of wedlock from an affair between her mother Cora and a gardener named Jonathan who masqueraded as a prince. After her existence ruins Cora's chances of being married to the genuine Prince Leopold, she is promptly abandoned by her mother and swept up by a cyclone moments later. This carries her to Oz and she is found by a woodsman and his wife. The woman insists on taking her in despite her husband's fear of her, having witnessed her perform magic at such a young age. Many years later, she leaves home after her father spitefully reveals the truth, seeking out the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard reveals her past and gives her the magic silver slippers, allowing her to travel to the enchanted forest and learn magic under Rumplestiltskin. After a failed attempt to kill Regina, Zelena returns to Oz and asks the Wizard to send her back in time to change her past. When he refuses, causing her to expose him as a fraud and turn him into the first Flying Monkey. She is later invited to join the witches of Oz by Glinda, only to turn green with Envy towards a newly arrived Dorothy Gale.

Trivia

  • In the book, the Wicked Witch is not related to the one of the East.
  • In the book, the Wicked Witch owned a pack of 40 killer wolves, 40 killer crows and 40 angry bees. She did not own the Winged Monkeys, but the Golden Cap that they were the slaves of.
  • In the book, it is stated that the Wicked Witch of the West has only one eye, yet it is as powerful as a telescope.
  • In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West is said to be so old all the blood in her body dried up long ago.
  • In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West doesn't fly on or own a Broomstick, instead she carries around a gaudy umbrella to protect herself from the rain or any water attacks.
  • In the book, when Dorothy is kept a prisoner in the castle of the Wicked Witch, the Witch forcefully hits Toto with her umbrella and sends the poor dog flying across the room to install fear within Dorothy.
  • In the book, the Wicked Witch is said to be scared of the dark for unknown reasons.
  • Margaret Hamilton, who played the green skinned Witch in the 1939 film was badly burned during a shot involving fire and smoke. On 23 December 1938, while filming the Wicked Witch's exit from Munchkinland in a blaze of fire, Hamilton suffered first-degree burns on the right side of her face and second-degree burns on her right hand; the flames rose too soon, before she had descended below the stage. Hamilton's green makeup was copper-based and potentially toxic, and had to be removed from her burned flesh with alcohol — an intensely painful process. She was not able to return to the movie until 10 February.
  • In the finished film, Hamilton's Wicked Witch has twelve minutes of screen time. Hamilton worked on the production for four months, and earned precisely $18,541.68.
  • Many scenes in the 1939 film involving the Wicked Witch had to be edited or taken out completely due to being too terrifying.
  • Margaret Hamilton, once dressed up as the Wicked Witch on Sesame Street with Oscar the Grouch. The skit was never aired due to being too "scary" for children.
  • Debra Winger performed this character in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. She also narrated the "Cyclone" scene in this production. This 1995 television special shortens the Wicked Witch's Castle scenes due to time limit.

Other Siblings

The Witch is mentioned frequently in the 2014 CGI film Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. The Jester, the antagonist of the film, is her younger brother and uses her broom to create the scepter that gives him power. She is said to have cursed the Jester to never be able to remove his costume, always revealing another underneath. She is also shown when the Jester conjures up images of his past, having treated her brother like a slave rather than let him become a warlock.

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