Wicked Witch of the East
|Wicked Witch of the East|
|First appearance||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)|
|Created by||L. Frank Baum|
Jenni East Gingema (1939)
(Once Upon a Time)
|Occupation||Ruler of the Munchkin Country|
|Title||Wicked Witch of the East|
The Wicked Witch of the East is a fictional character in the Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum. She is a crucial and important character but appears only briefly in Baum's classic children's series Of Oz books, most notably The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
The Wicked Witch was an elderly, malevolent woman who conquered and tyrannized the Munchkin Country in Oz's eastern quadrant and forced the native Munchkins to slave for her night and day. Her charmed Silver Shoes (famously changed to magic Ruby slippers in the 1939 movie musical) held many mysterious powers within them and were without a doubt her most precious and prized possession. She ultimately met her fatal demise when Dorothy Gale's farmhouse landed on and killed her when it descended from the sky. Once under the fallen establishment her old withered body quickly turned to dust, leaving only her shoes behind which were rightfully passed down to Dorothy as the pair's new owner.
The Classic Oz Books
The Wicked Witch of the East was believed to be more powerful than the Good Witch of the North, but not as powerful as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. She also appeared to be more powerful than Mombi, the Wicked Witch of the North, as the Good Witch of the North was able to defeat Mombi, but was powerless to overthrow the witch of the east and free the Munchkins.
She was not in any way related to the Wicked Witch of the West, (as it made out to be in several adaptions) but leagued together with her, and also the Wicked Witch Mombi and the Wicked Witch of the South, to conquer and divide Oz among themselves in four sections as recounted in Baum's fourth Oz book, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908). After the fall of Pastoria, the last mortal King of Oz, the old witch conquered the eastern section of Oz and held the native Munchkins in her bondage for a number of decades.
She had lived a rather humble dwelling deep within the woods in a cottage located somewhere in Oz's eastern quadrant called Munchkin Country. She also owned a beautiful Munchkin maid Nimmie Amee, who worked for her as a full-time servant, and happened to fall deeply in love with a local woodsman by the name Nick Chopper. Determined to prevent Nimee Amee from getting married to Nick and leaving her, the Wicked Witch of the East resolved to enchant Nick Chopper's axe. The curse casted upon it tragically caused him to eventually turn into the Tin Woodman when he hacked all his own limbs off one by one, replacing the parts that were amputated with a hollow tin one, until he was all made of tin from his head to his feet. Once a man of tin with no human heart, Nick Chopper believed he no longer had the proper emotions that were required to love Nimmie Amee with—much to the Wicked Witch's satisfaction. A year later, it was while the witch was out in the Munchkin meadows looking for herbs and spices to cast yet another one of her wicked spells, that Dorothy's falling farmhouse unexpectedly descended from the atmosphere and accidentally crushed her to death after it was released by a cyclone from Kansas —"Who was she?" asked Dorothy. "She was the Wicked Witch of the East, as I said," answered the little woman. "She has held all the Munchkins in bondage for many years, making them slave for her night and day. Now they are all set free, and are grateful to you for the favor."
Interestingly, she had helped certain Munchkins (such as Nimmie Amee's original mistress and the tinsmith Ku-Klip) with her witchcraft, under certain circumstances (usually at a reasonable cost). This demonstrates that she was a ruler who could be approached and propitiated, at least by some of her subjects. And among her exceedingly cruel actions wasn't just the enchantment of the woodman Nick Chopper's axe, but also Captain Fyter's sword, which caused him to turn into the Tin Soldier.
In most adaptations and references to the Wicked Witch of the East, it is usually in her famous appearance, under a house, with only her feet exposed. Notable recent exceptions are ABC's 2005 television film The Muppets' Wizard of Oz and Disney's 2013 theatrical film Oz the Great and Powerful.
- The Wicked Witch of the East was featured in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939). As in the book, she is revealed to have been killed when Dorothy's house fell on her. The Wicked Witch of the West was not pleased with Dorothy for the death of her sister (as she is in the film). Before the Wicked Witch of the West can claim the magic footwear, the Wicked Witch of the East's stockinged feet curl up into stumps with striped socks, and they disappear under the house and the shoes are transposed to Dorothy's feet. In the original book, the Wicked Witch of the West showed no remorse for the death of her counterpart in the East, nor was she noted to be related to her in any way. She was only interested in the magic footwear ("Silver Shoes" in the book, "Ruby slippers" in the 1939 film). It is often believed by fans that the witch Miss Gulch turns into in the cyclone is the Wicked Witch of the East, rather than the West, since she is close to the cyclone and because her appearance in the scene is somewhat different than the second witch.
- In Alexander Melentyevich Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City, The Witch's name is Gingema. Like in the 1939 movie, the two Wicked Witches are sisters. In Magic Land, she is summoning a magical hurricane to destroy all humanity. However, the Good Witch of the North learns of her schemes, and changes the spell to only affect one house and drop it on Gingema's head. Unlike in Baum's books, while being the formal ruler of the Munchkins, she interfered little in their lives, and only demanded that people collect food for her. Since her food was snakes, leeches, spiders, and other similarly disgusting creatures which the Munchkins were afraid of, that was nevertheless a heavy burden for them.
- In the Broadway musical, The Wiz, the Wicked Witch of the East is named Evvamene ("Ever mean") and terrorizes the Munchkins.
- In the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by author Gregory Maguire, and in the hit musical version, the Wicked Witch of the East is portrayed as a beautiful but physically disabled young woman called Nessarose; Nessa is the sister of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, whose paralysis is caused by her father's attempt to make her mother eat milkflowers to ensure that her second child would not be born with Elphaba's green skin. The silver shoes, originally a gift from their father, were enchanted by Glinda to allow Nessarose to walk without assistance (in the novel, she is born without arms, affecting her balance; in the musical, in her premature birth caused by the milkflowers, her legs came out "all tangled", leaving them permanently paralyzed.)
- In Roger S. Baum's Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage, the Wicked Witch of the East is the main antagonist. She forces the Cowardly Lion, who has just arrived in Oz, to search for the magical "Flower Of Oz", which is the only thing preventing her from taking over Oz completely. She is once again the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West and becomes infuriated whenever she is- frequently- mistaken for her sister. She is depicted as a green-skinned hag with brown hair and a black cloak. However, she does not possess the silver shoes or ruby slippers, but she does control the Winged Monkeys. The book was adapted into the 2000 animated film Lion of Oz. In the movie Lion of Oz she was voiced by Lynn Redgrave.
- In 2007, Turner Entertainment collaborated with Madame Alexander to create a series of McDonald's Happy Meal toys centered on the main characters from the 1939 movie, one of which was the Wicked Witch of the East. She is depicted as having blonde hair, a red shirt with a green belt and a burgundy dress over her distinguishable striped stockings and ruby slippers. She also is wearing a hat similar to the Witch of the West's, although it's colored red.
- In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East is played by Miss Piggy (as are all of the other witches). She manages to lift the house long enough to threaten the Munchkins before it falls back on top of her, killing her this time. Her silver shoes are then confiscated by the Good Witch of the North for Dorothy's use. Miss Piggy's other role is herself. Prior to Dorothy's journey, she appears with Kermit and tries to get rid of Dorothy. After Dorothy's return, she returns for the Muppets' show.
- The Wicked Witch of the East was featured in Dorothy and the Witches of Oz played by Sarah Lieving. She was in the middle of a battle between Glinda and the Good Witch of the North until Dorothy's house fell on her. The Wicked Witch of the West still blames Dorothy for her sister's death.
- The Witch is mentioned but not seen alive in a little-known British TV version of "The Wizard of OZ" from 1995 starring Denise van Outen, which has her obtaining the Ruby Slippers when they fell off the feet of a visitor from over the rainbow (Zöe Salmon, in a quick appearance) when she wished herself home, which she then uses to rule over the Munchkins until Dorothy's arrival causes her untimely demise.
- In the 2013 Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful, the Wicked Witch of the East, "Evanora", is the main antagonist. She was portrayed by Rachel Weisz. In this version, the Witch is the older sister of Theodora, Wicked Witch of the West (Mila Kunis), and is at war with Glinda (Michelle Williams) for control of Oz. She originally portrayed herself as a Good Witch, and had been an adviser to the former king of Oz, whom she murdered, so that she could be in charge of the Emerald City herself. Evanora deceived Oscar Diggs by framing the King's daughter Glinda for the murder and telling him that Glinda is the Wicked Witch instead of herself, which resulted in Glinda being outlawed from the Emerald City and retreating to the South. Evanora manipulates her sister, who is in love with Oscar Diggs (James Franco), and ends up transforming Theodora into the Wicked Witch (of the West, eventually). Evanora is later fooled and scared by Oscar's tricks and banished from the Emerald City. Before she flees, Glinda encounters her and the two witches fight. Evanora seems to have an upper hand, but Glinda then crushes her emerald necklace, the source of her power, and the Wicked Witch's youthful and beautiful appearance turns into that of a hideous old crone, which Glinda believes is a reflection of her true nature. Furious, Evanora tries to attack the Good Witch of the South, but Glinda blasts her out of the window. Evanora is then carried away by her last flying baboons, but not before swearing a personal revenge on Glinda for foiling her. The emerald necklace she wore enabled her to project her power from her very fingertips in a form that resembled green lightning. The magic shoes that the witch would ultimately become associated with are not even discussed in this film, nor does she officially become the Wicked Witch of the East during the story, which ends with the Wizard taking over the Emerald City. This is one of the significant differences from L. Frank Baum's original books, in which the Wicked Witches of the East and West were already ruling the Munchkin Country and the Winkie Country by the time the Wizard first arrived in Oz.
- In the TV series Once Upon a Time, there is a Witch of the East, played by Sharon Taylor, but she is not evil and Dorothy's house does not fall on her. The Witches in this series are a benign sisterhood who watch over Oz, but they are eventually overthrown by Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, who was unable to control her jealousy of Dorothy.
- Jack Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee, 1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; p. 236.