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Nessarose Thropp, the Eminence of Munchkinland, also known as the Wicked Witch of the East, is a character from the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by author Gregory Maguire.
Nessarose is the spoiled younger sister of Elphaba, aka the "Wicked Witch of the West". In both the novel and musical, Elphaba is considered a tomboy second to her very beautiful and attractive but delicately handicapped sister, and is often expected to put the needs of Nessarose before her own.
During her rule over Munchkinland, she is dubbed "The Wicked Witch of the East", for her one sided business deals, cruel ways, and overall use of sorcery to control her people. Nessarose meets her demise when Dorothy Gale's farmhouse, which was carried by a Kansas cyclone, unexpectedly lands in Oz and tragically crushes her to death. Thus, enabling Dorothy to become the new owner of her magic slippers.
In Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Nessarose was born at the Thropp family estate of Colwen Grounds, and was the second child of Melena Thropp, and the eldest child of Frexspar The Godly, though her father believes her to be his second child. Like her older sister, Elphaba, she was born with a deformity, though her deformity was that she born with no arms. It is implied this was due to the medicine that her mother took to prevent another green-skinned child. She spent most of her early life in the Quadling Country due to her parents' Unionist missionary work. Her mother died giving birth to her brother when she was young, and her father and Nanny gave much of their attention to her. Frexspar would later explain that this was because he did not know for sure whether she was his child, so he instead saw her as the child of him, Melena and her parents' lover: Turtle Heart, and a symbol of his love for both of them.
Shiz and Magic Slippers
Nessarose was enrolled at Shiz University's college of Crage Hall at the tender age of fourteen, due to Nanny replacing Ama Clutch. She is described as fashionable, shy, proper, and as pious as her father. Because of her spoiled upbringing, Elphaba and Nanny insist on changing the room around for her, much to Glinda's chagrin. As a parting gift, her father sends her a pair of slippers decorated with silver glass beads. The slippers are dazzling and have a chameleon effect so that they appear in different colors according to the lighting.
Nessarose eventually became part of Elphaba's charmed social circle, though her piety caused some conflict, mainly with Glinda's choice to study sorcery. After Ama Clutch's death, she is called into Madame Morrible's office and offered the chance to become an Adept of Magic, a secret ministerial position where she would reign from behind the scenes, though a spell is cast on her so she will not remember until Morrible wished. She is devastated by Elphaba's abandonment and takes comfort with Glinda, who becomes a close friend, though she also falls deeper into religion and drives away most of her other friends.
Becoming the Wicked Witch of the East
With Elphaba missing and presumed dead, Nessarose eventually inherits her great-grandfather's title of Eminent Thropp. During her reign in Munchkinland, she seceded the region from Oz, and becomes the sole ruler of the newly formed free state nation, the Eminence of Munchkinland. One day, Glinda comes for a visit and notices her slippers are coming apart, and casts a spell to fix them. The magic also gives Nessarose the power to walk without support. In addition, despite her religious conviction, she herself has become a sorceress, though she sees her magic as miracles from the Unnamed God.
As Eminence of Munchkinland, she regularly takes requests of magic from her subjects. One such act was to cast a spell on the ax of Nick Chopper, so that it would kill him. Nick Chopper would later become the Tin Woodsman because of the accident. When Elphaba visits her, she offers her a chance to stay with her and join her in ruling over Munchkinland, though Elphaba refuses. She also promises to leave her slippers to Elphaba when she dies.
Due to her magical power, those who oppose her call her a tyrant, the "Wicked Witch of the East", a title which she takes no offense to.
The Matter of Dorothy, the Aftermath, and her Legacy
During a ceremony to honor perfect attendance to religious classes in the hamlet of Center Munch, Nessarose is killed when Dorothy Gale's farmhouse falls on top her. After her death, her ministers, particularly Prime Minister Nipp, the appointed interim leader of Munchkinland, claim the title of Eminent Thropp and therefore, the title of Eminence of Munchkinland, to be extinct, though their right to do this is dubious. She is remembered negatively due to her use of magic and religious fervor to subdue her people. Glinda sends Dorothy back home to avoid the political conflict for killing Nessarose. By the time of Out of Oz, the munchkin's views of Nessarose has shifted drastically, as she is now viewed as "The Mother of Munchkinland", a national hero, which leads to Dorothy being put on trial for killing her. However, it is revealed that the trial is nothing more than a political maneuver by Munchkinland's new leader, Mombey to garner support and patriotism for the cause of the Munchkinlanders, and that it can only end in one way: with Dorothy found guilty.
Having extreme pious and religious convictions (linking absolutely everything she sees to religion and morality), Nessarose is often close-minded and vain, in keeping with Maguire's cynicism throughout the novel towards religion in general. In fact, the extent of her Unionist religious dedication causes even her father, the intensely jealous Frexspar, to worry that she may be "too devout".
Book to Musical Differences
Like many other characters in the Broadway adaptation of Wicked, Nessarose is portrayed very differently from the novel. She was originally played by Michelle Federer. In the musical, Nessarose is not chosen as a sorceress by Madame Morrible, and while the character of the musical does have arms, she is instead a wheelchair user. As in the novel, she is seen as beautiful, but the adaptation presents her as a more tragic character, attending Shiz University with Elphaba, who often embarrasses her in her attempts to "make a difference". In an effort to shoo away a persistent love-struck Munchkin named Boq so that her own relationship with Fiyero can develop, Galinda arranges a date between him and Nessarose. Thereafter, Boq unhappily becomes a point of love obsession for Nessarose, unlike in the novel, where she had little contact with Boq. Because her father was governor of Munchkinland, Nessarose takes control of the province following his death, and during her rule, she slowly becomes evil and tyrannical. She enslaves Boq, and in an attempt to use Elphaba's spells to punish him for professing his love for Glinda, accidentally causes his heart to disappear. As Elphaba begins to save Boq by turning him into the Tin Woodman, Nessarose declares herself 'The Wicked Witch of the East'.
As in the novel, Nessarose receives the magical slippers as a gift from her father, but they are enchanted by Elphaba, rather than Glinda, to give her the ability to walk. The musical does not refer to Turtle Heart or Shell, and thus it is implied that Nessarose was the legitimate child of Frex and Melena. The musical also shows that it was Madame Morrible who created the fateful cyclone, as a trap to draw Elphaba out of hiding.
It is also interesting to note that, in the novel, it is heavily hinted at that the Grimmerie comes from the other world (our world), and that Elphaba's ability to read only a portion of it is because of her half-human, half-Ozian birth. In contrast, in the musical, the Grimmerie is obviously a book from Oz (since it is stated that The Wizard cannot read it), though Elphaba is, once again, the only one who can read it (both Madame Morrible and Glinda admit that they either cannot or can only read very little). This would make Nessarose's ability to read it, albeit backwards, in the Wicked Witch of the East scene a bit incongruous.