The Wicked Witch of the West is a character in the fictional land Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum in his children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the book The Wicked Witch poses the biggest threat to Dorothy Gale, because she covets the magical silver shoes which previously belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East and are now worn by Dorothy. The Witch has often been used by editorial cartoonists to represent an evil force; for more details see Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In Baum's subsequent Oz books, it is the Nome King who is the principal villain; the Wicked Witch of the West is killed in the first book, and is rarely referred to again. Despite this, she makes frequent appearances in recent works based on Oz, and accordingly has been reimagined and expanded upon a number of times.
The character also figures prominently in the classic 1939 movie based on Baum's book. 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, the Witch of the West is the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East, although this is neither stated or implied in the original novel.
In Baum's Oz books, the Wicked Witch of the West is the one witch in Oz whom the Wizard fears after the Wicked Witch of the East is destroyed. He had once managed to defeat her with simple magic tricks despite her second use of the Winged Monkeys she may command three times through the power of the "Golden Cap,". With the first command, she had seized control of the Winkie Country in western Oz, where the Wizard never ventures, considering himself quite vulnerable to her. When young Dorothy is dropped in Oz by a cyclone, The Wizard promises to help her return home to Kansas if she and her ragtag group of friends can kill the Wicked Witch. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion journey toward her castle. Along the way they are attacked by wolves, crows, bees, and her Winkie slaves. Dorothy and her companions defeat each threat, but they are eventually subdued by her third and final permitted use of the Winged Monkeys. Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion are carried to the Wicked Witch's castle. But the Wicked Witch cannot kill Dorothy because the girl is protected by the Good Witch of the North. She enslaves her and tries to force the Cowardly Lion into submission by starving him, though Dorothy sneaks him food. When she succeeds in stealing one silver shoe by making Dorothy trip over an invisible bar, Dorothy angrily throws a bucket of water onto the Wicked Witch. This causes the witch to melt away.
The Wicked Witch's dryness was hinted at before this. She carries not the traditional broom but an umbrella, which she uses on one occasion to strike Dorothy's dog Toto. Furthermore, when Toto bit her in response, she had not bled; her wickedness had long ago dried up her blood.
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Links: Wikipedia Entry Wicked Witch excerpt from the original s Gregory Maguire's Wicked