Elphaba (who you know as the "Wicked Witch of the West") is wrongfully accused of being a witch-she was nothing more than basically a bad-ass little girl who happened to be born green (for reasons that you will just have to learn about later). People mistreated her throughout her entire life and wrongfully labeled her as being wicked because she was a little kick ass girl.
The Wizard in the land of Oz is basically a tyrant, who enforces segregation and more or less genocide towards the animals in the kingdom (stratifying animals into Animals with a capital a, and animals with a lower case a). At one point the animals became educated, and he is once again making them work back in the fields again. He forces the munchkins to labor, breaks labor unions, rapes the Earth for rubies, etc. Elphaba finally decides that she has had enough and she goes underground in order to do him in. No wonder they labeled her as a witch--Oz's very own revolutionary domestic terrorist!
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter that I really loved. Dorothy and the others are resting under a tree and the "witch" is on top of the tree listening:
"Of course, to hear them tell it, it is the surviving sister who is the crazy one," said the Lion.
"What a Witch. Psychologically warped; possessed by demons. Insane. Not a pretty picture."
"She was castrated at birth," replied the Tin Woodman calmly. "She was born hermaphroditic, or maybe entirely male."
"Oh, you see castration everywhere you look", said the Lion.
"I'm only repeating what folks say," said the Tin Wooodman.
"Everyone is entitled to an opinion," said the Lion airily. "She was deprived of a mother's love, is how I've heard it. She was an abused child. She was addicted to medicine for her skin condition."
"She has been unlucky in love," said the Tin Woodman, "like the rest of us." The Tin Woodman paused and placed his hand on the center of his chest, as if in grief.
"She's a woman who prefers the company of other women," said the Scarecrow, sitting up.
"She's the spurned lover of a married man."
"She is a married man."
The Witch was so stunned that she nearly lost her grip on the branch. The last thing she ever cared for was gossip. Yet she had been out of touch for so long that she was astonished at the vigorous opinions of these random nobodies.
"She's a despot. A dangerous tyrant,"said the Lion with conviction.
When I first read this over a year ago, I instantly identified with the Witch and fell in love with the story. Any woman in power has probably heard similar gossip about herself. This excerpt brings to mind something that happened to me about six months ago. I was coordinating a training for a couple of hundred teachers, and as I walked down the hall I heard two teachers standing in one of the rooms, talking about none other than yours truly. I swear that the excerpt is more or less what I heard these two teachers talking about. What really pissed me off was that these two teachers have asked for favors in the past.
I stood outside the room for almost fifteen minutes with the main reason that I would be there when they exited the room. I listed to them talk about what a bitch I was, how I was self-interested, only making them go to the training in order to justify my "over-inflated salary, how I date married men, slept My way to the top, was a lesbian (um, I thought I date married men?), control everyone, and the list goes on and on.
Long ago I used to let this type of gossip bother me because I used to actually want other people to recognize my hard work and dedication. Over the years as a manager, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I work and how much I bend over backwards, some people are so miserable that they will do anything in their power to try to bring other people down to their level. The incident that I mentioned wasn't the first nor the last time that I have overheard people talking crap about me behind my back. I could give a rat's ass what anyone says about me now--I figure that if people are gossiping about you, then that pretty much signifies that you are pretty special.
Last Halloween, I went to see the musical "Wicked". I didn't care much for the musical, particularly because I thought that there was too much of an overemphasis on the "good witch". One song in the musical though resonated with me and it's pretty much along the same lines of not letting anyone bring you down. The song is called "Defying Gravity" and I just LOVE the lyrics because they are so powerful:
Isn't she a bad-ass? I really like these lyrics that she sings at the end:
So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately -
Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me -
Tell them how I
Am defying gravity!
I'm flying high
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!
I really love that message-I couldn't have said it any better! Tell it, Sista!