"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-- The Dalai Lama

Friday, September 10, 2004


The last time I can remember being truly sad at having reached the end of a book was the first time I read the Hobbit. Don't get me wrong, I've loved lots of books in between, but that feeling of remorse as the right hand side pages decrease in number is unique. This most recent book to hit me where it hurts is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

I love the cleverness that can arise from looking at a story or situation from a relatively minor character's point of view. I also believe that analyzing a "good" or "evil" character in order to find the grey areas of their morals and personality is an excellent exercise. Probably one that should be practiced in real life as well.

Anyway, this book follows the life of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz from her birth to her death. One aspect of the story that particularly appealed to me was the Witch as a defender of Animal rights. I could feel her pain when she looked around with bewilderment at how Animals in her world were treated, and wondered why no one else noticed - or if so, didn't care. She doesn't use the word "humanity" because to her, to be human is to be capable of the most horrendous acts imaginable. "That's all I want," she asserts at one point in the story, "to do no harm." Again - relatable.

A beautiful story that looks at "evil" and wonders if it really is.

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