The Schuler Program equips bright, motivated youth with the support they need to gain access to and succeed at highly selective colleges and beyond. Writing from thirteen schools located in the greater Chicago area in Lake and Cook Counties of Illinois, scholars reflect on their academic experiences, cultural exposures, college applications processes, and more.
The Two Different Worlds of Wicked: The Play vs. The Novel
De’Asia Kamara, North Chicago Community High School, Class of 2017
Wicked. Some people
associate this word with evil or cool. When I think of this word, I return to
the stunning Broadway musical about the secret friendship between the good
witch and the bad witch — an exposure I will never forget. Or I think of the
hours I spent with a flashlight, reading the novel that inspired the play,
under my blanket in the wee hours of the morning. As I look back at these two
distinct versions of Wicked, it seems
as if they are two separate worlds, for they are so different. They are
different in setting, characters, and theme.
There are more settings
in the book than in the play, and the ones that are similar in the book and
play are described very differently, like the Emerald City and Elphaba’s lair.
In the book, Elphaba’s lair was really a flat that was dingy and old, and the Emerald
City was going through a phase of transition. Yet the play describes both settings
as magnificent sights. The characters were also modified when turning the book into
the play. Many were cut out, like Nanny and Turtle Heart. Others were majorly
changed such as Fiyero, who went from the foreign prince who was Elphaba’s
secret lover, to the lovable rich teen, adored by all, who left Glinda for
Elphaba. The themes differed in the two versions as well: the book’s theme was more focused on animal
rights and equality while the play had a theme of “don’t judge a book by its
When comparing the
musical and the book, I found that I have a preference for the musical. I like
the musical a little bit better because the theme was something that I and many
others could relate to, which made it very inspiring. Plus, it had a lot of
cool songs. Yet there are advantages to both media. The book is more
detailed and good for those who have enough imagination to take those details
and visualize it on their own, like their own self-directed play. The musical
is more for those who want to enjoy a show that inspires.
By looking at these
differences, I have noticed that when turning the book into the play, the
writers had to consider audience and timing. Therefore, they condensed the
story by taking out some scenes, but still kept the overall gist of the book. They
also made it more family-friendly by changing and cutting out some characters
and details as well as modifying the ending. They also made it more relatable
by changing the theme and focus.
All in all, I hope you
check out Wicked, whether it be the
novel or the musical-- whichever suits you. And the next time you think of Wicked, will it be in the normal way or
the magical one?
De'Asia enjoyed both the book and the movie--what about you?