Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Wicked” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Role of Religion in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked
Throughout Wicked” The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”, religion plays a very important part. Elphaba’s father begins the novel as a distracted clergyman, who is too consumed with the threat of evil to be present at the birth of his daughter. Although religion is supposed to be something that brings people together, for most characters in Wicked, it is a point of great contention. It is also important to note that while religion preaches about Truth, only the Clock of the Time Dragon dared to point out the things that were happening in the community. Throughout the rest of the novel “Wicked”, especially the scene in which Frex and Melena argue and when Elphaba is birthed in the carriage of the clock, what role does religion play? Also, how what can we suppose Maguire wants the reader to take away from these interactions?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Role of Sex in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked
Although Wicked is not a story that revolves around sensuality, the role of sex is central to the storyline. There are many instances in which a sexual action precedes a cataclysmic event. For example, Turtle Heart’s presence in Rush Margins, with Frex and Melena, is followed by the fall of Ozma. After Fiyero and Elphaba make love in her apartment, he is attacked and killed inside a few days later. There is also a veiled illusion to Tibbet being mentally destroyed by the happenings in the Philosophy Club. Reread the passages that contain references to sexual relationships, and the pages that follow them. Does this trend continue throughout the rest of the book? What do you think the author is trying to say about intimacy and pain?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Animals and Class in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked
While classism is not a major theme in Wicked and the topic of race is only brought up in regards to Elphaba, one important distinction that arises is the difference between Animals, animals and people. While people are the main species, and normal animals fulfill the same role as today, there is a new breed, Animals, who have been given a conscience, and who attempt to partake in the world around them. Elphaba and her friends take a liking to quite a few Animals, and are outraged when the government attempts to put the Animals into captivity, or worse, murder them. While the Animals begin the novel in high-end positions, such as professors in Elphaba’s class, by the end of the novel there are only a few that are left free, in a type of reverse slavery. Compare and contrast the captivity and killing of the Animals to that of other well-known genocides. In what ways does the author use the plight of the Animals to reflect the lives of discriminated people everywhere?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Other in Maguire’s Wicked
The role of the Other is a characteristic that is found in almost every article of literature. While the Animals in Wicked can certainly be seen as an Other, the most obvious Other of all is Elphaba herself. With her green skin, aversion to water, and brusque behavior, she is a target of mockery and gossip to those who do not even know her. The role of the Other usually exists to dissolve stereotypes in the face of comparison with the general population. How does Maguire attempt to persuade the readers that Elphaba is not a wicked witch, but rather the product of a unique upbringing and the victim of low tolerance and understanding? The entire book is based on the concept of giving Elphaba her fair share of time to explain her side of the story, knowing this, do you find her to be evil, as portrayed by those surrounding her? Or do you think that her circumstances account for her actions?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: Compare and Contrast The Wizard of Oz to Maguire’s Wicked
While The Wizard of Oz and Wicked clearly have the common bond of Oz and the story of Dorothy, from that commonality an entirely different world emerges. In which way is Galinda and Elphaba’s experience similar to what is portrayed in The Wizard of Oz? Think about the political atmosphere, the inclusion of the Animals, and the back-story of Elphaba. It is likely that both stories contain quite a bit of propaganda for their own means, but after reading closely, are you more inclined to believe Baum’s version of events, or Maguire’s? Why? Which version of the tale do you find to be more satisfying, in a literary sense?
This list of important quotations from “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Maguire's “Wicked” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “Wicked” above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“’It’s the devil, said Frex, sighing, ‘The devil is coming.’ ‘Don’t say a thing like that on a day our child is expected!’ ‘I mean the temptation in Rush Margins! And you know what I mean, Melena!’ ‘Words are words and what’s said is said!’" (10)
“She didn’t know what she thought. Was Elphaba devil’s spawn? Was she half-elf? Was she punishment for her father’s failure as a preacher or for her mother’s sloppy morals and bad memory? Or was she merely a physical ailment, a blight like a misshapen apple or a five legged calf? Nanny knew her worldview was foggy and chaotic, pestered by demons, faith, and folk science." (31)
“’Punishment for your wicked ways, you two-faced hedonists’, Nanny said…Turtle Heart tumbled to his knees. ‘ She sees him coming,’ he said thickly, ‘she sees him to come; he is to come from the air; is arriving, a balloon from the sky, the color of a bubble of blood: a huge crimson globe, a rusty globe: he falls from the sky. The Regent is fallen. The House of Ozma is fallen. The Clock was right. A minute to judgment.’" (62)
“There was a club and it beat down on him, like the kick of a horse, like the falling limb of a tree hit by lightning. There must be pain, but he was too surprised to notice. That must be his blood, squirting a ruby stain on the white cat, making it flinch." (220)
“In a panic, they flung themselves into the torrent and attempted to swim through Lurline’s urine. Those who became intimidated and turned back remained animals, beasts of burden, slaughtered for flesh, hunted for fun, counted as profit, admired as innocent. Thos who swam on and made it farther to shore were given the gifts of consciousness and language." (114-115)
“Well done, Miss. Let me rephrase the question. Will someone here venture a hypothesis as to the nature of this specimen? And give a reason for such an assessment? We see before us a beast at a tender age, long before any such beast could command language if language were part of its makeup. Before language, assuming language, is this still an Animal?" (145).
“She would emerge. She always had before. The punishing political climate of Oz had beat her down, dried her up, tossed her away—like a seedling she had drifted, apparently too desiccated ever to take root. But surely the curse was on the land of Oz, not on her. Though Oz had given her a twisted life, hadn’t it also made her capable?" (4)
“The first wave of discussion about Elphaba concerned her wardrobe and her evident poverty, as if her classmates were above noticing her sickly and sickening color" (74)
“"The creatures of makeshift lives, the hobbled together, the disenfranchised and the abused: the Lion, the Scarecrow, the maimed Tin Woodman. Up from the shadows for an instant, up into the light; then back. The Goddess of Gifts the last, reaching in among flames and water, cradling her, crooning something, but the words remain unclear." (403)
Source: Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York: Regan Books, 1995.