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Writing, Performing, Gendering the Wicked Witch of the West

Published in SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature. 2009, vol. 23, p. 123-145
Abstract While the fairy take The Wizard of Oz depicts women in positions of power, I argue that the dichotomy between the good witch(es) and the Wicked Witch, in both L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel and MGM’s 1939 film, validates one kind of femininity and stigmatizes as masculine, monstrous, and “other” the woman who strays from her gender role. Second-wave feminism as well as postmodernism have re-evaluated the figure of the witch as “other,” leading to the two contemporary texts, Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, Wicked, The Life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the 2003 Broadway musical, Wicked, in which the Wicked Witch is no longer portrayed as a villain. However, while Maguire’s novel fundamentally questions identity categories, the Broadway musical merely uses the Wicked Witch character to validate a new kind of femininity, that of the post-feminist model of “girl-power.” In this paper, I explore how the Wicked Witch is or is not portrayed as “other” in these four texts, and how such portrayals either reinforce or challenge the gender binary.
Keywords WritingPerformingGenderingWicked Witch of the WestThe Wizard of OzWickedWitchesGenderGirl power
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FROHREICH, Kimberly. Writing, Performing, Gendering the Wicked Witch of the West. In: SPELL, 2009, vol. 23, p. 123-145. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:75966

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Deposited on : 2015-10-12

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