Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West
The Wicked Witch of the West is the most significant antagonist in L. Frank Baum's children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West is the malevolent ruler of the Winkie Country. Her castle is described as beautiful instead of being the sinister fortress shown in the movie. In all versions, she is seriously aquaphobic, and with good reason. The Wicked Witch of the West was not actually related to the Wicked Witch of the East in the books, but leagued together with her, the Wicked Witch of the South and Mombi to conquer the Land of Oz and divide it among themselves, as recounted in L. Frank Baum's Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. She shows no interest in the death of the Eastern Witch; all she cares about is obtaining the Silver Shoes which will increase her power. The Wicked Witch of the West was one of the most powerful witches in all of Oz. In ensuing Oz books, her power is described as having been so great that even Glinda the Good Witch of the South feared her.

W. W. Denslow's illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz depict her as a paunched old hag with three pigtails and an eye-patch. L. Frank Baum himself specified that she only had one eye, but that it "was as powerful as a telescope", enabling the witch to see what was happening anywhere in her kingdom from her castle windows. Other illustrators, such as Paul Granger, placed her eye in the center of her forehead, as a cyclops. Usually, she is shown wearing an eye patch, however some illustrations incorrectly show her with two eyes.

The Wicked Witch of the West (portrayed by Margaret Hamilton)
The witch's most popular depiction was in the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, based on Baum's book, where she was played by Margaret Hamilton. In that film adaptation, as in Gregory Maguire's revisionist Oz novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and its musical adaptation Wicked, as well as the 2013 movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, the Witch of the West is depicted as having green skin. That was never mentioned in Baum's novels.

The Wicked Witch of the West (portrayed by Mila Kunis)
Let the witchery begin! Celebrate Halloween all October long
with a new witch post every day! Who's your favorite?

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