Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) Son of a Witch (2005) and A Lion Among Men (2008) are revisionist parallel novels by Gregory Maguire that explore the deeper, darker Wizard of Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Baum wrote his series beginning in 1900 with the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The series was picked up and continued by other authors. The Wizard of Oz was produced as a theater production in 1902 and was made into the beloved children’s’ movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939. This movie was on of very few films aired annually on television every spring.
Although The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written initially as children’s stories, sociologists, psychologists and professors of literature have discussed the multiple adult themes and possible symbolism. Gregory Maguire’s series beginning with Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and also referred to as The Wicked Years, explores and amplifies the stories of Oz. As a revisionist work, Maguire seeks to examine characters, background and cause and effect relationships behind the more traditional one dimensional Wizard of Oz stories.
Elphaba (a euphemism from L. F. (Frank) B.(Baum) is the name Maguire gives to the Wicked Witch of the West and is further the protagonist in Maguire’s version. In the L.Frank Baum series, of course, the Wicked Witches of the east and west are the antagonists. Maguire’s books go far beyond being merely fractured fairy tales or ‘the story of the wicked witch from her point of view’. In Maguire’s’ books, Oz, the Wizard, Glinda (Galinda) and the Emerald City aren’t quite the airy-fairy lands of the Baum’s books or the film versions.
Oz is a world with rife with all the blackest emotions of mankind as well as the more positive aspects. Wicked:The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Son of a Witch (which takes up after Elphaba’s death and follows her son Liir) and A Lion Among Men (which follows the cowardly lion) are deep psychological and sociological adult stories written allegorically. The books explore social, cultural, political, religious and familial mores, norms and taboos. Gregory Maguire’s books would make excellent reading for social commentary, sociology, psychology and political science classes.
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