What Elphaba from Wicked can teach us about ending workplace bullying

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Photo from Rogers Digital World

Writers of the musical Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, question a major theme of the film on which the story is based: that people are purely good or evil. In Wicked, we see negative traits in Glinda, the good witch, and positive traits of Elphaba, the wicked witch of the West.

Elphaba fights the oppression of animals in Oz, ultimately going up against the Wizard despite once looking up to him. And the song “Defying Gravity” encapsulates Elphaba’s tenacity in going up against the oppression.

It’s with the same determination that we act to end workplace bullying.

We’re “through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.”

We’re “through accepting limits ’cause someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but till I try, I’ll never know…. As someone told me lately: ‘Everyone deserves the chance to fly!’ And if I’m flying solo at least I’m flying free. To those who’d ground me, take a message back from me: tell them how I am defying gravity. I’m flying high defying gravity and soon I’ll match them in renown. And nobody in all of Oz, no Wizard that there is or was is ever gonna bring me down.”

Hear the song “Defying Gravity” performed by Idina Menzel on Late Night with David Letterman.

The lyrics:

GLINDA
Elphaba – why couldn’t you have just stayed calm for once, instead of flying off the handle!
I hope you’re happy!
I hope you’re happy now
I hope you’re happy how you
Hurt your cause forever
I hope you think you’re clever!

ELPHABA
I hope you’re happy
I hope you’re happy, too
I hope you’re proud how you
Would grovel in submission
To feed your own ambition

BOTH
So though I can’t imagine how
I hope you’re happy right now

GLINDA
Elphie, listen to me. Just say you’re sorry:
You can still be with the Wizard
What you’ve worked and waited for
You can have all you ever wanted:

ELPHABA
I know:
But I don’t want it –
No – I can’t want it
Anymore:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

GLINDA
Can’t I make you understand?
You’re having delusions of grandeur:

ELPHABA
I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down:
Glinda, come with me. Think of what we could
do, together.

Unlimited
Together we’re unlimited
Together we’ll be the greatest team
There’s ever been
Glinda –
Dreams, the way we planned ’em

GLINDA
If we work in tandem:

BOTH
There’s no fight we cannot win
Just you and I
Defying gravity
With you and I
Defying gravity

ELPHABA
They’ll never bring us down!
Well? Are you coming?

GLINDA
I hope you’re happy
Now that you’re choosing this

ELPHABA
You too
I hope it brings you bliss

GLINDA
I really hope you get it
And you don’t live to regret it

BOTH
I hope you’re happy in the end
I hope you’re happy, my friend:

ELPHABA
So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Everyone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown!
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

GLINDA
I hope you’re happy!

CITIZENS OF OZ
Look at her, she’s wicked!
Get her!

ELPHABA
Bring me down!

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