Wicked: Book Vs. Musical

29 Oct

Right now I will be analyzing how the book, Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and the musical Wicked are extremely different.

The book was written by Gregory Maguire and published in 1996. The story is very different than the musical adaptation of it, as the book is much darker and more evil and the musical is well- obviously very happy.

In the book, like the musical, it gives examples of the social, political and ethical problems that society faces and the overall battle of good vs. evil that is also an issue that we face on a daily basis as human beings. However, the book is quite different. The book shows Elphaba’s awful childhood more in depth than the musical does and how much pain she felt in the beginning of her life. It also has basically a completely different plot line than the musical that bases off of it. The book and the musical have only very few things in common, such as the social themes and the presence of different issues. The book gears towards readers that enjoy much darker stories, whereas the musical is much more light hearted and happy which aims at connecting with an audience that is looking to feel warm and happy inside (for the most part) while still feeling as though they learned something.

The musical takes the most important issues from the book and tries to explain the importance in a happier way than the book did. A lot of people, who read the book first, felt as though the musical adaptation of the book did not do the magnificent novel justice and was far too happy to even be related. They feel that the book is just so dark (which it very much is) and the musical should be just as dark as the book.

Those, like myself, who watched the musical before reading the book (most times) feel the exact opposite. I could not imagine how the musical would turn out if it had followed the book exactly the way it had been originally written. I tend to like stories with a happy ending (in this case, it was a happy-ish ending) and so the musical was perfect.

I do not feel as though the musical would be as successful as it is if it had followed exactly what happened in the book. Maguire kills off many characters in the book (to show just how much the government in Oz really fails to recognize its citizens, and to explain how horrible the living conditions were in Oz at that time) so it is kind of depressing, not to mention quite perverted. The musical takes much more of a cheerful attitude towards the social issues that are present in the book.

Maguire writes in a way that captivates the readers attention, after a while. The beginning of the book is a little hard to get through just because he is establishing the characters and plot so once you get past the initial shock, it gets much more interesting. His writing style is very creepy (as i have already explained multiple times) but he is such a great writer. Personally, I would prefer him to tone down the creepiness a bit and maybe have a happier ending. I mean, it kind of makes me mad when authors kill off my favorite and valuable characters that don’t need to die.

The book is, without a doubt, a great book- if you can get past how dark, evil, perverted and creepy the plot is and understand how significant the issues are and how they relate to society today.

I read an article about this exact topic called Wicked: the Broadway Musical Vs. the Novel, where the author wrote, “if you happen to first see the Broadway version of Wicked, you might not be as ready for or as impressed by the dark and involved qualities of Maguire’s novel.” Part of me wishes that I had read the book before seeing the movie just so that I could appreciate the novel much more for its social themes- but then I think that if I had read the book first I might not like the musical as much, and that just wouldn’t be good at all.

I think that it all depends on the person whether they like the book or musical better and it is much more of a matter of opinion than a right or wrong answer. I can see both sides because both the novel and the Broadway musical are beautiful works of art that have both won many awards (so it is obvious that they are both quite impressive). You all should just go out and watch the musical and read the book (in whatever order you wish) because, honestly, they are both quite magnificent.

What’s your opinion? Do you like the book or musical better?

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