Elements of Light and Dark in Fantasy Fiction and Fairy Tales

In the fantasy novel Wicked: The life and Times of the Wicked With of the West, author Gregory Maguire, retells the popular fairy tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, from the perspective of the Witch of the West. Maguire, however, does more than just retell the story of Oz; he actually transforms the Land of Oz, and with it, our perceptions of human nature. Maguire's strength as a writer lies in his study of human character. By comparing Wicked with L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we may begin to see how our environment shapes our view of the world. By exploring contrasting elements of good and evil - light and dark - within these novels, we may also see how a different point of view can change our entire belief system.

REQUIRED READINGS (2):

  1. The Annotated Wizard of Oz: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Centennial Edition) by
    L. Frank Baum

Baum, L. Frank. The Annotated Wizard of Oz: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Centennial ed. New York: Norton, 2000. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. e-Library. Web.

15 Apr. 2012.
Abstract: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the quintessential American fairy tale, but also one of the most controversial children’s books ever published. Michael Patrick Hearn, the world’s leading Oz scholar, provides a spellbinding annotated edition that illuminates all of Oz’s numerous contemporary references, provides fascinating character sources, and explains the actual meaning of the word “Oz.” A facsimile of the rare 1900 first edition appears with the original drawings by W. W. Denslow, scrupulously reproduced to mimic their correct colors, using a different color for each region of Oz’s well as twenty-five previously unpublished illustrations. In addition, Hearn provides an extensive bibliography, compiling Baum’s published work, every notable Oz edition, and the stage and motion-picture productions from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz to the 1974 Broadway smash The Wiz. The result is a classic to rival Baum’s own, and a book no family’s library can do without. 90 black-and-white, 56 color, and two-color illustrations throughout.

  1. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York: ReganBooks, 1995. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. e-Library. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.
Abstract: A fable for adults on the subject of destiny and free will by a writer of children’s books. It tells the story of Elphaba before she became the Wicked Witch of the West in the Land of Oz The novel traces her career as nun, nurse, pro-democracy activist and animal rights defender.

SUGGESTED READINGS (4):

  1. “The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy: Wicked Wisdom of the West” by Randall E. Auxier

Auxier, Randall E. The Wizard of Oz and Philosophy [Electronic Resource]: Wicked Wisdom of the West. Chicago: OpenCourt, 2008. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. e-Library. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.
Summary: From the bedtime story by L. Frank Baum to the classic 1939 film, no story has captured the imaginations of generations of children – and adults – like The Wizard of Oz. The story of Dorothy’s journey through Oz, the colorful characters, places, songs, and dialogue have permeated popular culture around the world. The contributors to this volume take a very close look at The Wizard of Oz and ask the tough questions about this wonderful tale. They wonder if someone can possess a virtue without knowing it, and if the realm of Oz was really the dream or if Kansas was the dream. Why does water melt the Wicked Witch of the West and why does Toto seem to know what the other characters can’t seem to figure out? The articles included tackle these compelling questions and more, encouraging readers to have discussions of their own. (Retrieved from Amazon, 15 Apr. 2012)

  1. The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum by Rebecca Loncraine

Loncraine, Rebecca. The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum. New York: Gotham Books, 2009. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. e-Library. Web.

15 Apr. 2012.
Abstract: Explores the life of the unconventional author and entrepreneur, examining the era in which he lived and its influence on his work.
  1. “Why Fairy Tales Matter” by Maria Tatar

Tatar, Maria. “Why Fairy Tales Matter.” Western Folklore 69.1 (2010): 55-64. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
Summary: Background information on fairy tales; understanding elements of characterization. According to the abstract, the process of character transformation is central to fairy tales.

  1. “Rhetorics of Fantasy” by Ida Yoshinaga

Yoshinaga, Ida. “Rhetorics of Fantasy.” Marvels & Tales 24.1 (2010): 178+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
Summary: General literary elements in fictional fantasy in relation to psychological theories of fantasy elements such as good and evil.

SUGGESTED FILMS (3):

  1. “Literary Analysis: Elements of Narrative”

Laist, Randy. Literary Analysis: Elements of Narrative. Goodwin College, 2011. YouTube. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.
Segment URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o37LgG3-oQs

Abstract: Professor Randy Laist of Goodwin College discusses some of the basic concepts of literary analysis, including plot, character, and setting, with reference to The Wizard of Oz.

  1. “How to Find a Theme”

How to Find a Theme. 2011. YouTube. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=p4qME64SkxM>.
Segment URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=p4qME64SkxM

Abstract: Learn about theme. Topics include what it is, how a subject differs from a theme, how theme is a model of the real world, how to find a theme, and why understanding theme can even make you a happier person!


  1. “Rise of Musical Comedies” from the title Putting It Together (1980-2004)

Putting It Together (1980-2004). Films Media Group, 2004. Films on Demand. Web. 22 April 2012. <http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=16978&xtid=43738>.
Summary: The Broadway production of “Wicked,” in 2003, was backed by Universal Studios and cost $40 million to produce. The musical, based on a feature film, broke box office records. The success of “Wicked” points to the idea that people want an escape from daily reality. The success of “Wicked” helps describe the transition in popular media from the pre- to post-9/11 era.

Go to www.mgccc.edu
Click on Library
Click on Films on Demand
User Name: msgulfccc
Password: films

Segment URL: http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=16978&xtid=43738&loid=122980