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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

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Theme of Guilt and Blame

At one point Sarima, who likes to fire off wise, fortune-cookie sayings, tells Elphaba that her guilt is the only thing tethering her to the world. Sarima links together the ideas of guilt, life, and home and emphasizes the way in which guilt is more than just a private emotion in Wicked. Guilt, especially for Elphaba, is something almost tangible. It is at the core of her major relationships (especially familial ones); it drives her actions (especially in the post-Fiyero years); it largely defines who she is as a person; and it practically functions as a companion to her near the end of her life. Guilt is an almost physical burden that Elphaba drags around with her. And where there is guilt, there is of course blame.

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. How do guilt and blame play a role in the relationship between Nessa and Elphaba?
  2. "Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt. And maybe the cost of belonging is worth it" (5.9.20). How is this idea demonstrated in the book?
  3. Frex often says Elphaba is punishment for his guilt. What exactly does he mean by this?
  4. Why does Elphaba so desperately want and even need forgiveness from Sarima? What does Sarima's forgiveness represent for her?
  5. Elphaba crumbles, totally defeated, when she fails to assassinate Madame Morrible in the Emerald City at the end of Volume Three. Is Elphaba feeling guilty and horrible because she failed, or because she nearly killed a bunch of children in her desire to take her out?

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