Wicked Witch of the West
|Wicked Witch of the West|
As illustrated by William Wallace Denslow
(From the original Baum publishing in 1900)
|First appearance||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)|
|Created by||L. Frank Baum|
(The Wizard of the Emerald City)
(The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
(His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz)
(Oz the Great and Powerful)
|Occupation||Ruler of the Winkies
(at time of death)
|Title||The Wicked Witch of the West|
The Wicked Witch of the West is a fictional character and the most significant antagonist in L. Frank Baum's children's book 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 rarely even referred to again after her death in the first book.
The witch's most popular depiction was 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 depicted as having green skin.
Classic books by L. Frank Baum 
The Wicked Witch of the West's castle is described as beautiful instead of being the sinister fortress shown in the movie. In all versions, she is seriously aquaphobic. The Wicked Witch of the West was not related to the Wicked Witch of the East, 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, and all she cares about is obtaining the Silver Shoes which will increase her power. 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 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.
Most of her power resides in the creatures she controls. She has a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a flock of crows and an army of Winkies. She possessed the enchanted Golden Cap, which compelled the Winged monkeys to obey her on three occasions. First, the witch commanded the creatures to help her enslave the Winkies and to seize control of the Western part of the Land of Oz. Second, she made the Winged Monkeys drive the Wizard out of the Winkie Country, when he attempted to overthrow her.
When Dorothy Gale and her companions were sent by the Wizard to destroy her, the Witch attacked them with a pack of 40 great wolves, a flock of 40 crows, a swarm of black bees, and a group of Winkie slaves. Each of these attempts were thwarted, but the protagonists are eventually subdued by the Witch's third and final permitted use of the Winged Monkeys. Nevertheless, the old witch cannot kill Dorothy because the girl is protected by the Good Witch of the North's kiss. She therefore settles for enslaving Dorothy, and tries to force the Cowardly Lion into submission by starving him, though Dorothy sneaks him food. Upon seeing the Silver Shoes on the girl's feet, the Wicked Witch decides to steal them, and thereby acquire even more power.
When she succeeds in acquiring one silver shoe by making Dorothy trip over an invisible bar, the little girl angrily throws a bucket of water onto the Wicked Witch. This causes the old witch to melt away. L. Frank Baum didn't explain precisely why water had this effect on her, nor did he ever imply that all evil witches could be likewise destroyed. However, the wicked witch Mombi is similarly disposed of in The Lost King of Oz and the wicked witch Singra is clearly afraid of the same fate in the early chapters of The Wicked Witch of Oz. It is mentioned that the witch was "so old" and so wicked, that all the blood in her body had dried up many years ago. Thus, it might be surmised that water was fatal to her on account of her extreme and unusual dryness.
The Witch did not carry a broom in the novel, but rather an umbrella, which she uses on one occasion to strike Dorothy's dog Toto. She is also afraid of the dark in Baum's original story. For that reason, the Witch never tried to steal the Silver Shoes while Dorothy was sleeping. Despite her fear of water and the dark, 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.
Versions in performance media 
1910 movie 
The 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz features a character similar to the Wicked Witch of the West, identified in intertitles as "Momba the Witch" (Compare the character Mombi from The Marvelous Land of Oz). In the film, Momba has an unspecified hold over the Wizard, who promises his crown to anyone who can release him from Momba's power. Momba captures Dorothy and her companions, evoking the events in Baum's original novel, and is destroyed when Dorothy throws a bucket of water over her.
1914 movie 
Mombi's likeness and costume in the 1914 silent film, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz is based on Denslow's illustrations of the Wicked Witch of the West.
1939 movie 
In the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz, Margaret Hamilton plays the Wicked Witch of the West as a stooped, green-skinned witch dressed in a long black dress with a black pointed hat. She does not wear an eyepatch like in the novel. This representation of the Wicked Witch has become a standard for what witches look like and an archetype for human wickedness. While this relationship is not mentioned in Baum's books, in the movie, the Witch is the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East. In fact, she appears in the film much earlier on than in Baum's original novel, demanding the Munchkins reveal who killed her sister, not long after Dorothy's arrival in Oz. She is described by Glinda the Good Witch of the North, not the South as in the book, as "worse than the other one." Therefore, the Witch's role is made much more prominent than in the novel, as she seeks revenge against Dorothy for killing her sister, even though it was an "accident". However, as soon as the Witch is reminded of the ruby slippers, all interest in her sister's death vanishes and all she cares about are obtaining "her" slippers which will enable her to conquer Oz. She is more menacing than her literary counterpart, making Dorothy too afraid to ever lose her temper with the Witch. She makes sure that Dorothy knows her power when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow by throwing a ball of fire at them after which she waits to see if Dorothy is too afraid to go on. Before Dorothy and her friends get to the city, the Witch casts a spell of sleeping over a field of poppies the group must pass through. Glinda remotely counteracts the spell with a waking snowfall. The Wicked Witch then flies on her broom over the Emerald City, demanding Dorothy's surrender, and the Wizard demands the destruction of the Witch, with her broom as proof, in exchange for granting the wishes of Dorothy and her companions. Unlike Baum's original depiction, the Wicked Witch sends the Winged Monkeys as the first wave of attack. The Golden Cap is not mentioned, but the Witch does hold and then angrily cast away a costume piece that could be considered the cap (It greatly resembles the Cap in depicted in W. W. Denslow's original illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), after the poppies fail to work. She is killed when Dorothy throws the water when she lights a fire to threaten the Scarecrow. After the Wicked Witch of the West is dead, her soldiers are glad to be free of the Wicked Witch of the West and quote "Hail to Dorothy. The Wicked Witch is dead." The character ranks No. 4 in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, making her the highest ranking female villain, as well as placing 90th on Empire's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Hamilton's other role in this film is Miss Gulch. This character is the Witch's Kansas counterpart. She arrives on her bicycle at the farm and says to Uncle Henry, "Mr. Gale! I'd like to speak with you and your wife right away". Since Dorothy's last name is also Gale, this implies that Henry is her blood-uncle, and Aunt Em is his wife. Em tells her off, saying to her: "Almira Gulch, just because you own half the county doesn't mean that you have the power to run the rest of us. For 23 years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now... well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!" (Baum's character never mentions anything about religion beyond the implications of Sunday-best clothing.) Dorothy saw her again outside the window in the tornado. At that moment, Miss Gulch becomes a witch flying on a broom.
On a 1976 episode of Sesame Street, the Wicked Witch, once again played by Hamilton herself, drops her broom and falls onto the street. In order to get the broom back, she must prove that she can be nice. Everyone is scared of her, except for Big Bird and Oscar. After she proves that she is nice, Big Bird is upset when the time comes for her to leave. She reassures him that one day she'll return. The episode was poorly received by parents of frightened young children, and was never aired again. The fate of the footage is unknown.
Hamilton also appeared as herself on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. In this appearance, she demonstrated how her costume and acting skills made her appear to be the Witch, and assured her young viewers that there was nothing about her to be feared, because her portrayal in the film was only make-believe.
2013 movie 
Mila Kunis portrays the Wicked Witch of the West who is named Theodora, in the 2013 Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful. In this version, she is portrayed as a 'good witch,' also being the younger sister of Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who is at war with Glinda (Michelle Williams) for control of Oz. She forms an attraction to Oscar Diggs (James Franco), which Evanora uses to manipulate her. After Oscar goes to meet with Glinda, Evanora tricks Theodora into thinking Oscar had betrayed her. Theodora cries and her skin is burnt by her own tears, giving us the first showing of the Wicked Witch's weakness to water. Evanora gives her an apple that will remove all heartache, but instead it removes all remaining good in Theodora's heart; this turns her into a Wicked Witch with green skin. Though Evanora offers to change her back with an enchantment, Theodora embraces her new appearance and helps her sister attempt murdering Glinda to put Oz under their control and to get revenge on Oscar. However, she and Evanora are defeated away by Oscar's illusions. Thedora is forced to flee the city on her broom, but she threatens to return. Oscar offers her the chance to come back and live in peace if goodness ever finds its way back into her heart. Now on her broom above the palace, she takes a brief moment of silence and screams back to Oscar "NEVER!!", and then flies off to the West, vowing revenge.
Later works 
- In Alexander Melentyevich Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City, her given name is Bastinda. March Laumer uses this name for the witch in his Oz books. Like in the 1939 movie, she is the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East. Sherwood Smith uses this name for a new Wicked Witch of the West in her 2005 book The Emerald Wand of Oz.
- In The Wiz (1975), The Wicked Witch of the West is given the name Evillene (portrayed by Mabel King). She is the malevolent ruler of the Winkies. She is the sister of MissOne, Glinda, and Evermean, the other three witches of Oz. In the film version, she runs a sweatshop under Yankee Stadium with the slogan, "Manufacturers and Exporters of Sweat", and extracts it not only from the Winkies, but the Crows, the Poppy Girls, and the Subway Peddler. Her magic creates urban variations on the Kalidahs (evil growing dolls sent by the Subway Peddler), Fighting Trees, (mobile pillars) and the wolves (living and carnivorous trash cans), all in the Subway system. She then sends the Flying Monkeys (a motorcycle gang) to capture Dorothy and her friends.
- In the anime film The Wizard of Oz (1982), the Witch (voiced by Elizabeth Hanna) is purple-skinned, white-haired, and wears an eyepatch similar to W. W. Denslow's original illustration. However, her telescopic eye is replaced by a magic mirror. Her soldiers are completely magical, disappear at her demise, and are quite distinct from the Winkies whom she uses only for labor. She wears an old-fashioned peasant dress and possesses a staff, through which she generates her magic.
- In the anime series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Witch is purple-skinned once again, and has long white hair with a blood-like red streak. She possesses both eyes and is dressed in a long, black hooded gown. Her eyes have the power to turn people into stone, and turn blood-red when such transformations are effected. One of the Winkies actually tries to crush her to death with a huge boulder, but the Witch causes the boulder to disappear, and turns the man into stone. Like in the 1982 anime film, a magic mirror shows her everything she wishes to uncover. The Wicked Witch makes it clear to Dorothy that the Good Witch of the North's kiss cannot serve as protection from her apparently superior power, and it's the Silver Shoes that safeguard the girl. The Witch also reveals that the Wicked Witch of the East was her sister, and that the Silver Shoes could triple her own powers. This version gives the witch the most prolonged and dramatic death scene of all versions; it also differs from previous adaptations by suggesting that Mombi was her protege.
- Gregory Maguire's 1995 revisionist novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West takes the familiar Oz story and inverts it, with the Wicked Witch (given the name Elphaba in homage to L. Frank Baum) as the novel's protagonist and Dorothy as a hapless child. The name is retained in the hit musical version Wicked.
- In the animated series The Wizard of Oz (1990–1991) by DiC Enterprises, the Flying Monkeys that were loyal to the Wicked Witch of the West (voiced by Tress MacNeille) perform a ritual that resurrects the Wicked Witch of the West where they place her hat, dress and cloak on an effigy. Afterwards, she terrorizes Oz again by tarnishing the Emerald City, stealing what Dorothy's friends treasure the most (the Scarecrow's brain diploma, the Tin Woodsman's clock heart, and the Cowardly Lion's medal of courage), and making the Wizard fly off-course in his hot-air balloon by creating an evil wind. Of course she still has a weakness to any type of water causing her to evade at all times. The series was canceled before an ending could be produced, so her fate remains a mystery. This incarnation of the character was clearly based on the 1939 MGM movie, to which the series itself served as an unofficial sequel, although the witch's garments are purple here rather than black.
- The Witch appears in a little known 1995 version of the original story made for British cable television, which combined elements of Baum's original story, the 1939 movie, and the 1985 semi-sequel Return to Oz. She first appears after Dorothy lands in Oz, demands to know where the Ruby Slippers are, threatens Dorothy, then leaves. The Munchkins then reveal they hid the Slippers to keep the Witch from getting them, force them onto Dorothy, who then leaves to find the Wizard. At the end of the film, after taking the Slippers while Dorothy is sleeping, the Witch turns her loose in a room full of large rocks, says she's turned Dorothy's companions into rocks themselves, and will give her three chances to pick which ones are her friends, but if she guesses wrong, she will become one herself. To be fair, she turns the Slippers into a rock and hides them in the room. Dorothy, however manages to find the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion. The Witch, enraged, grows to giant sized and holds a boulder over Dorothy, who then finds the Slippers and wishes for the Witch to lose her power. The Witch loses her strength and falls backwards, and the boulder kills her instantly.
- In the episode "Water You Thinking?" of Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers, a witch monster appears by the name of Witchblade, and she seems to be modeled after the Wicked Witch. Her voice and cackle are reminiscent of the 1939 film's portrayal of the Witch. Additionally, most of her lines are paraphrasings of the Witch's lines, such as "How 'bout a little fire, Rangers?". She also refers to the Rangers' Zords as "Tin Men" and to the Rangers as "My pretties". When she's defeated, she cries "Oh, no! I'm falling, falling! What a world!"
- In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005), Miss Piggy plays all of the witches of Oz including the Wicked Witch of the West. Her basic attire evoked W. W. Denslow's original illustration, with a biker theme. The eyepatch also covered a magical glass-eye that gave her visual powers. This version of the Wicked Witch is only vulnerable to tap water where she is able to bathe in bottled water.
- In the VeggieTales episode "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's", the witch and her Kansas counterpart from the 1939 film are replaced by Chester the Bully (Kansas) and Bobby the Bully (Wonderful Land of Ha's), both portrayed by Gourdon from "Bully Trouble".
- In "Anthology of Interest II", an episode of the animated television series Futurama, Leela is knocked unconscious and dreams about being Dorothy in a version of The Wizard of Oz, with Futurama characters playing the roles of Wizard characters. While Fry is the Scarecrow, Bender the Robot is the Tinman, and Doctor Zoidberg is the Lion, the Wicked Witch is played by Mom, a recurring antagonist from the show, voice by Tress MacNeille who also provided the voice for The Wicked Witch of the West in the 1990 DIC animated series. The Witch sends her flying monkeys, played by Mom's sons Larry, Walt, and Igner, to capture Dorothy/Leela. At the Witch's castle, she reveals that she wants to adopt Dorothy as her daughter, and Dorothy/Leela agrees, as long as she gets to be a witch, too. The Witch/Mom meets her fate when Tinman/Bender opens a celebratory bottle of champagne and accidentally sprays her with it, melting her. Later, after Dorothy/Leela uses the power of her ruby boots to become the new Wicked Witch of the West, water splashes down on her from the ceiling, causing her to melt as well, to which the Cowardly Lobster/Zoidberg descends the stairs, mentioning "I think there's a problem with your upstairs toilet."
- The Wicked Witch of the West appears as the primary antagonist of Dorothy and the Witches of Oz played by Eliza Swenson. In flashbacks, it was seen that she had obtained the mystical Book of Mini Aru (which contained the Changing Word) from the Wizard as part of a deal not to continue her attack on Oz in exchange that the Wizard doesn't plan to reclaim the book. Unfortunately for the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard entrusted the key to the Book of Mini Aru to Dorothy for safekeeping. On Earth, she assumes the form of a female book publishing agent named Billie Westbrook and plans to obtain an artifact that Dorothy was entrusted into holding on to by the Wizard so that she can lead Princess Langwidere, Nome King, and an army of winged monkeys, Nomes, and dragons into taking over Earth upon learning the Changing Word. The Wicked Witch of the West also had plans to invade Wonderland, Neverland, Camelot and Narnia.
- In Dorothy of Oz, a Korean manhwa by Son Hee-Joon, the Witch of the West is re-imagined as a scientist who rules over the Western Dominion. She is psychopathic and cruel, and in a twist, she (not Mara/Dorothy) is the true orchestrator of the death of the East Witch Selluriah. She is the creator of an army of clones, one of whom is the story's equivalent of the Scarecrow. Whether or not this is a reference to the musical Wicked is unknown.
- On the LP vinyl "Songs from the Wizard of Oz", produced by Disneyland records, The Wicked Witch of the West is given the name "Smarmy", and sings the song "Just Call Smarmy". The record features both original songs and songs from the 1939 MGM film.
- Mila Kunis portrays the Wicked Witch of the West who is named Theodora, in the 2013 Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful. In this version, she is the younger sister of Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who is at war with Glinda (Michelle Williams) for control of Oz. She forms an attraction to Oscar Diggs (James Franco), which Evanora uses to manipulate her. After Oscar goes to meet with Glinda, Evanora tricks Theodora into thinking Oscar had betrayed her. Evanora then gives Theodora an apple to eat. She was told by Evanora that it would protect her heart from being hurt. Theodora takes a bite into the apple and it transforms her into a Wicked Witch with green skin. Theodora did not want to change back because she wanted Oscar to know he did that to her. As Glinda is taunted by Evanora, the Witch of the West arrives and announces the cowardice and betrayal of the Wizard, showing the hot air balloon flying nearby. Theodora shoots it down with fire, causing it to ignite and pour gold stolen from the treasury. As she and Evanora are about to destroy Glinda, an illusion of smoke cast from a carriage appears as Oscar's head. Thinking this to be impossible, the Witch of the West tries to fire at the head, only to have no effect. In response, Oscar sets off fireworks to scare the witches out of Oz. Seeing Oscar's might and uprising from the Emerald City's citizens, the Witch of the West flies off, vowing to return. Oscar states that he knows her evilness was not her doing, and if she can ever find the good in her heart again, she will be welcomed back. The Witch of the West roars out her defiance at Oscar before flying off.
- In the Syfy miniseries Tin Man, the character of Azkadellia (played by Kathleen Robertson) is analogous with the Wicked Witch of the West, though she is vastly different from most other versions of the character. In the miniseries, she is portrayed as a member of the Royal Family of the O.Z. (Outer Zone) who is possessed as a young girl by the spirit of the evil Witch of the Dark (Karin Konoval) who uses her body to take over the O.Z. and plunge it into a world of permanent darkness. This adaptation's version of Dorothy Gale is Azkadellia's younger sister DG. (Zooey Deschanel) Both of the sisters are powerful witches themselves, though DG has to relearn all of her magical abilities, and once DG frees Azkadellia from the witch's grip, both of them defeat her together. Although it is clear that Azkadellia is analogous with the Wicked Witch of the West, it is implied vaguely that the Witch of the Dark is the Wicked Witch that Dorothy, who makes an appearance as a spirit in a mausoleum, defeated in the original story.
- Baum, L. Frank; Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Wizard of Oz, W. W. Norton & Company, 1976. p.231. ISBN 0-517-50086-8
- Zimmermann, Denise; Gleason, Katherine A. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, 2nd Edition, Alpha, 2003. p.7. ISBN 1-59257-111-5
- AFI's 100 Years ...100 Heroes & Villains
- "90. The Wicked Witch of the West". Empire. Retrieved 4 December 2010.