The Wicked Witch of the West or simply The Wicked Witch is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum in his children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The character also figures prominently in the classic 1939 movie based on Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In these works, The Wicked Witch poses the biggest threat to Dorothy Gale, because she covets the magical pair of silver shoes (ruby slippers in the movie) which previously belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East and are now worn by Dorothy. The Witch has often been used by editorial cartoonists to represent an evil force; for more details see Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In subsequent Oz books, it is the Nome King who is the principal villain; the Wicked Witch of the West does not appear after the first book, and is rarely referred to again.
In The Oz Books, the Wicked Witch is the one witch in Oz whom the Wizard of Oz fears after the Wicked Witch of the East is destroyed. He managed to defeat her with simple magic tricks in spite of her making use of the Winged Monkeys that she commands through the power of the "Golden Cap," for the second time. With the first command, she seized control of the Winkie Country in the western part of Oz, where the Wizard never ventures, considering himself quite vulnerable to her. When young Dorothy is dropped in Oz by a cyclone, The Wizard promises to help her return to her home in Kansas if she and her ragtag group of friends kill the Wicked Witch. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion journey toward her castle and are attacked by wolves, crows, bees, and her Winkie slaves. Dorothy and her companions defeat each threat, but are eventually subdued by her third and final permitted use of the Winged Monkeys. Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion are carried to the Wicked Witch's castle. However, The Wicked Witch cannot kill Dorothy because the girl is protected by the Good Witch of the North. She enslaves her and tries to force the Cowardly Lion into submission by starving him, though Dorothy sneaks him food. When she succeeds in stealing one silver shoe, by making Dorothy trip over an invisible bar, Dorothy angrily throws a bucket of water onto the Wicked Witch, accidentally causing her to melt.
The Wicked Witch's dryness was enumerated in some clues before this. She carries not the traditional broom but an umbrella. Furthermore, when Toto had bitten her, she had not bled; her wickedness had dried her up long ago.
W.W. Denslow's illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz depict the Wicked Witch as a paunched old woman with three pigtails and wearing an eyepatch; her good eye gave her the visual powers of a telescope. She is afraid of the dark, and for that reason, never went for the shoes while Dorothy was sleeping. Her position as ruler of the Winkies was awarded to the Tin Woodman, who moved the capitol out of her castle because it was too damp.