Dorothy and her beloved dog Toto in the Wizard of Oz became a pop culture icon for decades. This light-hearted heroic story included a lovable protagonist as well as a stereotypical antagonist, the Wicked Witch of the West. Decades later, the Broadway Musical, Wicked, recounts this old tale from a different point of view; the witches. This musical uproots what we believe to be true of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch to make a bold statement concerning the social and ethical nature of good and evil. In this story, various myths are used in the unraveling and denunciation of good and evil archetypes.
Old tales such as the Wizard of Oz hinge on a clear line between protagonist and an antagonist. However, current pop culture has seen this line become blurred. The archetype of the Wicked Witch of the West becomes a beloved character that individuals can sympathize with in the musical, Wicked. The story begins with Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, as a smart and a misunderstood outcast that tries to find her place in the Land of Oz. With her emerald green skin, she stands out and is mocked. Her roommate, Galinda, is a popular, pretty blonde who gets everything she wants. Both characters fulfill very different archetypes. The author creates an outcast figure by making her visually stand out with her green complexion and awkward clothes. He demonstrates her intelligence with big glasses and tight, pulled back hair. He then creates Galinda’s character as an archetypal dumb blonde that is pretty and popular.
With very different values, these two begin as likely enemies. The beginning of the story resonates with its audience because everyone has at one point felt like an outcast, or like they have to find their place in the world. The audience connects with Elphaba as she hides her desperation to be loved and accepted. This plot line is built upon a myth, or “searching story,” that contains an important and timeless human truth of finding oneself.
As time goes on, Galinda and Elphaba realize that although they have differences, the other isn’t so bad. Their unlikely friendship builds through helping each other develop their weaknesses through the other person’s strengths. This tale emphasizes that everyone is different and that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round. Rather than an archetype of being either good or bad, this musical makes a statement that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Elphaba helped Galinda become a witch in return for Galinda’s help in finding love and acceptance among peers. In this myth, a once ordinary outcast begins to find her potential of becoming a great witch with the help of her unlikely friend. This hero myth continues to develop as Elphaba is called to visit the great Wizard of Oz. This heroic journey combines with the healing myth as Elphaba realizes that she must leave home and go to Emerald City to reach her potential and find her purpose.
In the iconic Broadway musical, Wicked, we see a paradigm shift in the way pop culture looks at archetypes and the nature of good and evil. With the use of various myths, we see the heroic journey an outcast makes in finding her purpose and place in the Land of Oz.