Student Research Projects

Terrorism Established - The Perception of Evil and Terrorism in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Student Karyn Alberstadt, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course ENG 489: Senior Thesis


Perception varies when it comes to the readers of novels. In Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba is presented as the sympathetic hero who completely differs from the Wicked Witch that readers are shown in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, when examined in a different light, Wicked also makes Elphaba out to be the evil witch we are accustomed to. Elphaba grew up facing trials and tribulations that shaped her into the wicked witch that she became. The circumstances of her birth, the impact of those around her as she developed, and the challenges that she encountered heavily influenced how she grew into the person that she did. Elphaba\'s acts of defiance against the ruling powers of Oz suggest that she is malicious, even though she is doing what she believes is right. Given the sequence of events which shape Elphaba into who she is, it is evident that she is truly evil and acts as a terrorist in Wicked.These influences molded the way that Elphaba interacts with the society and show how her interactions with the government can make her be perceived as the evil and terroristic person that she is. This thesis goes in depth on what it means to be evil and terroristic and how these terms can be rather relative depending on how the author intends to present the character. Examining Elphaba in correlation with the Animal Liberation Front and the terrorist Timothy McVeigh can help to show how Elphaba can be seen as a terrorist. With help from critics such as Christopher Roman, Sara Stuehm, and David Whittaker, the readers are given insights into what influences Elphaba to become Wicked.