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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

Fate and Free Will Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Why shouldn't I know if I was being a pawn of the Wizard? I could tell when I was being manipulated by that harridan, Madame Morrible. I learned something about prevarication and straight talking back at Crage Hall. (3.12.14)

Ah, the irony. Poor young Elphaba is pretty cocky, confident that she showed Madame Morrible who was boss. Scenes like this really contrast to Elphaba's crushing doubt at the end of the novel, when she no longer knows if she's in charge of her own life or not.

Quote #2

The word adept sent chills down Elphie's spine. Was Nessarose even now responding to some sort of spell that Madame Morrible had placed on her ...? Was she in fact a pawn, an Adept of the Wizard or of Madame Morrible? Did she know why she did what she did? For that matter, was Elphaba herself merely a playing piece of a higher, evil power? (4.3.1.10)

Stopping to figure out why you're doing something is probably tricky enough without adding a crazy, manipulative headmistress to the mix. The use of the word "adept" here and throughout the book is really interesting. Adept can mean a sort of apprentice or person in training, which is how Morrible meant it. But "adept" can also mean skilled. This is the meaning that Dorothy points out at the end of the novel. Elphaba is worried that she's being manipulated unknowingly by Morrible, and she becomes increasingly anxious about her own worth and ability as she grows older.

Quote #3

Either accept the burden of leadership or turn it down, but either way make sure it's your choice in the matter, and not an accident of history, a martyrdom by default. (4.3.6.83)

Elphaba's parting pep talk to Nessa is all about choice and free will. It's interesting that Elphaba references "accidents of history" here. This recalls the book's epigraph from Tolstoy (see "What's Up with the Epigraph?" for more detail on that) and foreshadows Elphaba's own fate as the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, who was arguably more of an "accident" than an actual person.

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