Reputation Management for Elphaba Thropp, The Wicked Witch of the West

Few things are worse than having an unearned negative reputation, particularly when it has a real detrimental effect on your life. Take for example Elphaba Thropp, who eventually became known as the Wicked Witch of the West. She really was doomed from the start. She should’ve engaged in a little bit of reputation management and had a noticeably better life. Or, if she’d had access to a computer or a marketing firm, could’ve started an online reputation campaign to save her name.

Elphaba was from the beginning a victim. Her mother engaged in an illicit affair, and as a result, Elphaba was born with green skin. Even for a land that had munchkins and talking Animals, this branded her as an oddity. She was an outcast from the moment she was born.

The issue with Elphaba is that she was providing reputation management for other people. Covering up for people and trying to assist people, all the while it was hurting her. This kind of personality feature, while admirable, immeasurably complicated people’s views of her. She was already setting herself up for a fall when she had her critical run-in with the wizard.

The wizard, who was a self gratifying wanderer who’d found a home among these gullible people, was seen as this great benevolent man. He surrounded himself with powerful people who continued to falsify his image. He was a master of reputation management, having spun circumstances in such a way that Elphaba looked like a horrible person, when in actuality she was the real victim, simply battling to survive.

Reputation is all about appearances. Reputation is not about who you actually are, it’s about who people think you are. If you’re a good person but got a bad rap for something, that reputation can stay with you for a very long time. In the case of Elphaba Thropp, she was in a difficult situation from the beginning. What sealed her fate were her own actions, which were re-spun by the wizard. No reputation management could have rescued her from him, and in the end, it didn’t.

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