Wicked Good Conflict

We can’t escape conflict, at least not for very long.  And if we face conflict it can, in fact, make us better.

Undoubtedly, we can learn from the conflicts and the characters in the musicals we love.  We can step into the shoes of heroes, underdogs, victims, and villains – letting their experiences teach us about the kind of life we want to lead when we’re off the stage.

We’ve had the “Wicked” Songbook open at our piano the last several weeks and the song “For Good” is always the one that gets stuck in my head after we plunk through the notes together as a family.

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.”

In humming “For Good,” I often find myself reflecting on who and what has shaped me as a person. The answer often includes conflict.

I got an opportunity to share from my heart with a group of women about the correlation between the darkness of conflict and light of resolution in my own life.  I would not be the woman I am today if I had not persevered through dark times, nor would I have had as much joy and celebration when the good times came.

“And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return.” 

In Wicked, Glinda (later recognized as Oz’s Good Witch of the East) and Elphaba (later labeled as The Bad Witch of the West) repeatedly come into conflict. Their duet, “For Good” finds Glinda and Elphaba realizing how important they’ve been to each other and how their relationship – marred by conflict – is for the good.

“Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today, because I knew you.”

As we do in life, the Wicked characters experienced life as both victim and hero. Together their conflicting motivations moved the story of Oz forward. It should help us all remember that it’s okay when you find yourself as a victim; because the stage has been set for you to become the hero.

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better…”

In the story and musical production, Glinda and Elphaba’s characters change and their motivations shift. Who is the hero? Who is the villain? Who is the victim? It’s not always clear.

Just as when acting in a play, a character’s motivation influences how we choose to deliver our lines. When faced with conflict in life we have choices as to how we’ll respond. Others, too, will choose how they respond to us. Those choices reflect the roles we play:

The hero is motivated to learn from conflict, overcome adversity, and do what’s right.

Her actions are heroic.

The victim is motivated to preserve self, be right, and flee her pain.

She may not be the hero.

But she can be…

When we see the victim heal self, have her harm recognized, and work through her hurt; she begins to do the heroic.

Singing about and acting out those heroic arcs on stage can be transformative for children. It promises that even those who have harmed you and set you out as a victim can work through your life to bring about a hero in you.

It’s an encouraging story to retell and I love how theater brings these lessons to life.

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”


Melani Lyons is the founder and Artistic Director of Dandylyon Drama. She’s prone to bursting into song, finding inspiration for her next play from real life, and dancing around the family room with her kids.


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