The Wicked Witch Of The West In The Broadway Musical Minor Characters, Major Impact: A Look at Characters in Hamlet, Macbeth, and To Kill a Mockingbird

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Minor Characters, Major Impact: A Look at Characters in Hamlet, Macbeth, and To Kill a Mockingbird

Minor characters play an important role in literature. Often, the minor characters in the novel connect with and are especially enjoyed by the reader more than the main character. Mansfield Park’s wonderfully manipulative Mary Crawford is much more interesting than the brilliantly good Fanny Price. JK Rowling has created a small army of fascinating minor characters in the Harry Potter books, from the inspirational Sirius Black to the sullen Dolores Umbridge.

Sometimes minor characters are so charming that they take on a life of their own. Playwright Tom Stoppard was so interested in Hamlet’s two faces, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, that he made them the stars of his own play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Although very minor characters in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead characters (as the title suggests) and Hamlet’s “stars” appear sporadically, almost randomly.

There is hardly a better compliment than to make a literary minor character the star of your own story. Just as Tom Stoppard decided to devote more time and energy to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Gregory Maguire set out to tell the “true” story of the Wicked Witch of the West when he wrote The Ugly. Although he is a villain and a minor character in The Wizard of Oz, Maguire recasts him as simply misunderstood. The interesting thing about Wicked is that it’s currently a musical based on a novel based on a movie based on a book. All that’s missing is a TV show, and given how successful Wicked has been on Broadway, there’s a good chance it’s already in the works.

Even if minor characters don’t inspire brand new works of fiction, they can still be incredibly powerful. It’s hard to imagine a minor character as interesting as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Boo is of interest not only to the reader, but also to the main characters of the novel. Jem and Scout Finch spend a good portion of the book speculating about her history, personality, and current whereabouts. Although he doesn’t appear until almost the end of the novel, Jem and Scout’s assumption of him is almost a character.

Minor characters play a very important role in fiction. The three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth play an important role in everything that happens in the play. They set the entire plot of the play in motion by prophesying that Macbeth will one day rule Scotland. In a reversal of Oedipus, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth learn about the prophecy, rejoice in it, and do their best to fulfill it.

In addition to fueling the play, the witches (sometimes known as the Weird Sisters) are fascinating characters in their own right. They’re responsible for some of Macbeth’s most famous lines (“double, double, toil, trouble” and “something bad comes this way”) and provide much-needed comic relief to an otherwise dense play.

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