College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in English (MA)


Virginia Dow


Gregory Maguire, Wicked, feminism, Butler, Wollstonecraft


English Language and Literature


One method of promoting gender equality that has gained popularity in recent years involves revising the fairy tales, primarily the ones compiled and revised by Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Anderson, and the Grimm brothers, to create versions in which the female characters have agency and purpose outside of furthering patriarchal gender ideals. The primary goal of the feminist fairy-tale revision is to give the female characters agency, not because they are women, but because they are functioning characters within the story. While there are many authors who attempt to create fairy-tale revisions that embody a feminist perspective, not all are successful, and some do even more harm than good in their attempts. This thesis argues that Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West stands as an effective feminist fairy-tale revision because its female protagonist possesses the agency to explore her gender identity, to pursue education, and to influence the world around her with violent actions. By presenting Elphaba’s life and choices without judgment or apology, Maguire creates a fairy-tale revision that encapsulates the message that so many feminist revisionists have failed to convey: the female protagonist deserves agency not merely because she is female, but because she is a fully-developed person.