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Is conformity and stability more desirable than individuality and freedom for the female characters in these two texts? Word Count: 1002 Throughout both Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Linda Newbery’s No Way Back it is clearly shown through key female characters that conformity and stability are more desirable than individuality and freedom. These characters are Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked and Ellie and Natalie from No Way Back. Both Glinda and Ellie look for conformity and stability and Elphaba and Natalie desire individuality and freedom within their texts.
Maguire’s key female character, Glinda, looks for conformity and stability throughout her life. Being from Gillikin, Glinda is expected to marry into a rich social strata and to be the ultimate socialite. She conforms to this expectation and the reader is manipulated to think she is happy. “She [Glinda] reasoned that because she was beautiful she was significant… ” [page 65]. Glinda has always known that she was significant and this later on causes her to a the socialite. “Just put this on Sir Chuffrey’s account… have them sent along to our rooms in the Florinthwaite Club… content to be a good partner for my Chuffrey… ” [page 208-209].
All the key elements in this quotation tell the reader that Glinda is married, has money and is a socialite. Here it is clear that she conforms to what is expected of her and social acceptance and happiness are consequences of this. Glinda conforming to expectations gives her the sense of her desired stability that she requires. When Ama Clutch relapses and ends up in hospital it causes Glinda to loose her stability. This is not returned to her until she gets close to Nanny. The death of Ama Clutch affects Glinda very emotionally and spiritually.
All her life Glinda relied so heavily on Ama Clutch that now she is gone, as the reader, we see the mischievous side of Glinda emerge. “I [Glinda] have no Ama now… I am my own agent. I want to go to the Philosophy Club [Brothel] and see if it is true… ” [page 163]. This mischievous side of Glinda does not last for long, as the stability of her best friend saves her. Mirroring this is Newbery’s character, Ellie, who like Glinda seeks conformity and stability. Throughout No Way Back, Ellie is expected to be good at school and to stay out of trouble.
Ellie conforms to this by not joining in the fuss during history and not being involved in the theft. Newbery manipulates the reader to believe that Ellie is a goody-two-shoes that can not do anything wrong. “She’d [Ellie] had only one detention before in her whole school life… ” [page 64]. This quotation shows that Ellie does conform to the expectations of her. Ellie conforming to the expectations of her means that she gets the stability that she desires in her life. Like anyone, Ellie receives stability from her family and friends.
The stability from her family never falters at any time during the text. But when the stability from her best friend Amanda falters it leaves Ellie lost both at school and at the stables. “This really wasn’t fair of Amanda, Ellie thought… ” [page 91]. This loss of stability leaves Ellie emotionally lost mostly at school. Due to Ellie relying so heavily on Amanda to be there for her, the shock of her not being there hurts Ellie deeply. Conformity and stability is hard to sustain when the people that both Glinda and Ellie love are testing the very essence of it and what they care for.
Throughout Wicked Elphaba continually desires both individuality and freedom. This starts when she is born with green skin, immediately making her different. This difference could either be used as a downfall or used as a platform for her individuality. “‘I forgot, Elphie, skin is your issue too,’ said Avaric” [page 144] Elphaba chooses the latter of the two. Because of this it gives Elphaba the freedom to do and say what she wants. This individuality and freedom leads to Elphaba being ostracised from society and ultimately her murder. “… She [Dorothy] hurled the water at the Witch [Elphaba]” [page 402].
The freedom of Elphaba being different causes her downfall as she never fitted in at school. Maguire manipulates the reader to sympathise with Elphaba’s position in life in a way that what Elphaba is doing is what all people do to fit in. Similarly Natalie also seeks individuality and freedom in No Way Back. The individuality begins with Natalie starting at a new school. Like most people, Natalie tries to fit in with the people around her. “We’ll have some fun with him [Wishart]… ” [page 23]. This shows that she wants to fit in with the people around her.
Like Elphaba, Natalie changes her personality depending on who she is with. Natalie’s freedom comes from her home life where her father is non-existent and Newbery manipulates the reader to believe that her mother does not care. It isn’t until the end of the text when we see that Natalie’s mother does care. Natalie believes that because her mother does not care she has the freedom to do what she wants. “I bet you’ve never even tried [cigarettes], have you, Ell? ” [page 151]. This refers to the freedom she has even though Natalie is about 15 years of age.
Similar to Elphaba, Natalie is ostracised from her friend and eventually gets expelled from school. Sometimes it is good to be an individual and free, but like everything in life, it comes at a cost. Glinda and Ellie being conformist and having stability leaves them better off. Whereas Elphaba and Natalie desiring individuality and freedom are worst off, because they get ostracised from the people they care about. Therefore, as shown through the key female characters conformity and stability are more desirable than individuality and freedom as shown in both Maguire’s Wicked and Newbery’s No Way Back.