Elphaba

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Elphaba
Created by L. Frank Baum
Gregory Maguire
Portrayed by Multiple (Musical)
Information
Full name Elphaba Thropp
Nickname(s) Elphie
Green girl
Artichoke
The Wicked
The Witch
Fae
Fabala
little frog
Wicked Witch of the West
The Wicked Witch
Aliases Sister St. Aelphaba
Wicked Witch of the West
Species Human (with talents in witchcraft)
Gender Female
Occupation Student (formerly)
Activist
Family Parents:
Melena Thropp (mother)
Wizard of Oz (biological father)
Frexspar Thropp (legal father)
Siblings:
Nessarose (maternal half-sister)
Shell (maternal half-brother)
Significant other(s)

Fiyero Tigelaar

Glinda Upland
Children Liir (son)
Relatives Grandparents:
Eminent Thropp of Munchkinland (maternal grandfather)
Grandchildren:
Rain (granddaughter)
Religion None (atheism)
Nationality Ozian

Elphaba Thropp /ˈɛlfəbə ˈθrɒp/ is a fictional character in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, as well as in the Broadway and West End adaptations, Wicked.

In the original L. Frank Baum book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West is unnamed and little is explained about her life. Elphaba is modeled after the Witch portrayed by Margaret Hamilton in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz: green-skinned, clad entirely in black and wearing a tall peaked hat. Maguire formulated the name "Elphaba" from the phonetic pronunciation of Baum's initials L.F.B. In both adaptations, Elphaba is also called by several nicknames including Elphie, Fabala, Sister (Saint) Aelphaba, Auntie Witch, and Fae.

Elphaba in the books[edit]

Elphaba is the illegitimate daughter of Melena Thropp and the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba does not discover her true father's identity until later in her life, and grows up believing that her mother's husband Frexspar is her father. Through her mother, she can lay claim to the highest held title of Munchkinland, the Eminent Thropp. Frexspar, the unionist minister and missionary, is her mother’s husband. Nessarose (later the Wicked Witch of the East), and Shell, the Emperor of Oz after the wizard's departure, are her half siblings. Because of her noble ancestry, Elphaba bears the title of "Thropp Third Descending".

Frex favors Nessarose over Elphaba, a source of constant resentment. Nessarose is almost comically pious, the preeminent quality the zealous Frexspar desires in a daughter. While Elphaba is born with green skin, Nessarose is considered beautiful, although she is born without arms. During her visit to Munchkinland near the end of the fourth section of the book, Elphaba discovers that the Quadling Turtle Heart may in fact have fathered Nessarose, and was also her mother's lover.[1]

Elphaba attends Shiz University where she eventually becomes best friends with Galinda (later "Glinda") and Boq. She also meets Fiyero, the Crown Prince of the Vinkus (Winkie Country), who later falls in love with her. Nessarose later joins Elphaba at Shiz. It is also at this time that Elphaba first meets Madame Morrible, the head of Crage Hall (the part of the university open to women) and develops a dislike for her that soon becomes a hatred due to the belief that Madame Morrible's Tik Tok, Grommetik, is responsible for the death of her favourite professor, a sentient goat by the name of Doctor Dillamond. Later on in life Elphaba attempts to kill Madame Morrible several times; the last time she attempts this, she finds Madame Morrible already dead, so Elphaba claims credit for killing her. Frex sends Nessarose a beautiful pair of jewelled slippers as a gift (these slippers are later enchanted by Galinda to enable Nessarose to walk without assistance). Elphaba pretends not to care that she received no gift from their father, but toward the end of the novel, the shoes become an obsession for her, as she sees them as a symbol of Frex's favoritism.

After meeting the Wizard she becomes increasingly disgusted with the ever-more tyrannical and anti-sentient-animal policies of the Wizard (even more so after the murder of Doctor Dillamond), Elphaba drops out of Shiz and takes up residence in the Emerald City, where she joins a resistance movement.

Elphaba later meets up with Fiyero again and eventually permits him to keep coming back as long as he doesn't disclose her location. The two fall in love with Elphaba constantly asking Fiyero questions about her old friends. They begin an affair, despite the fact that Fiyero is married with three children (Irji, Manek and Nor), but Elphaba refuses to let Fiyero touch her below the waist.

Fiyero is eventually murdered by the Gale Force (the Wizard's secret police) after disregarding Elphaba's instructions to stay away from Corn Exchange where she squats while she is taking part in an operation for the resistance. When Elphaba returns she finds the floor covered in blood; though no body is ever found it is implied that no human could survive blood loss of that magnitude. Severely traumatized and covered in Fiyero's blood, Elphaba makes her way to a nearby mauntery (nunnery) where she lapses into a stupor for a year. While in this state, Elphaba may have carried to term and given birth to a son, Liir. Elphaba cares for him along with other children as part of her duties at the mauntery, and during this time does not consciously consider herself to be the boy's mother. She only starts to consider that she might be Liir's mother (though for the most part, continuing to remain below her deliberate consciousness) when she readies to leave the mauntery is told she must take him with her. Liir doesn't seem to resemble either Elphaba or Fiyero and lacks her green skin.

Following her return to consciousness, Elphaba spends another year recuperating and a further seven tending the terminally ill in the mauntery. After this, she visits Fiyero's wife, Sarima, seeking forgiveness for her part in Fiyero's death. Sarima welcomes her and allows her to live at Fiyero's castle of Kiamo Ko. Though Elphaba had only intended to stay at Kiamo Ko a short time, Sarima refuses to even talk about Fiyero and so she resigns herself to living in the castle indefinitely. Sarima also calls Elphaba "Auntie Guest" and the children end up calling Elphaba "Auntie Witch" behind her back. Elphaba eventually gives in to this name even though she initially resented it.

Though Elphaba had once considered sorcery to be nothing more than "entertainment" and was not interested in studying the art, she is revealed to have taken correspondence courses in magic during her time living in the Emerald City. While living at Kiamo Ko, Elphaba discovers the Grimmerie (a book containing vast magical knowledge) in the attic of the castle. Using the limited amount of information that she can decipher from the cryptic book, she begins to practice sorcery with greater success than ever before. She mainly uses sorcery to aid, enhance and further the scientific investigations initially begun by Doctor Dillamond while she was at Shiz, her main use of sorcery is creating flying monkeys.

The Wizard's Gale Forcers eventually capture Sarima and her family, Nor is later revealed to be the only survivor. Elphaba is left unsatisfied as Sarima can no longer provide the forgiveness she desires and plunges into madness.

After Nessarose is crushed by Dorothy Gale's house, Elphaba attends her sister's funeral, where she meets with Glinda. The two are initially happy to be reunited, but when Elphaba learns that Glinda has given Nessarose's shoes to Dorothy, she is enraged, and this sparks a conflict between the two women which remains unresolved at the time of Elphaba's death.

The possibility of Elphaba coming back to life in a future novel in the series has been widely debated among Maguire's legions of fans for many years. The reason many seem to think that Elphaba will eventually return to Oz is because of the ending of Wicked. The bucket splash that supposedly ends her life connects to the novel's fable of Saint Aelphaba, for whom Elphaba is named, who was said to disappear beyond a waterfall, she returned several hundred years later before once again disappearing behind the waterfall. This in turn connects Elphaba with the stories that Sarima tells her children about a wicked witch who disappears into a cave. At the end of the story it's tradition that the children ask if the witch ever comes out, to which Sarima replies "not yet". At the end of Wicked, that dialogue is repeated and "not yet" are actually the final two words that close out the book, suggesting that Elphaba will eventually rise again. Furthermore, in several interviews, Maguire has stated "a witch may die, but she will always come back - always."[2]

Further evidence of the possible resurrection of Elphaba were brought to light towards the end of the 2008 novel A Lion Among Men (the third book in the series), when the character of Yackle (Yackle was always present in Elphaba's life in various forms, whether Elphaba was aware of it or not) is about to die. Before she does, she seems to have a realization of some sort and says "of course- she's coming back. Don't you understand, she's coming back!" However, the identity of the "she" to whom Yackle was referring remains ambiguous, as she dies before she can make herself understood. Many fans of the series think that she was talking about Elphaba, while others believe she may have been talking about the long-lost Ozma.[2] This is continued to some extent in Out of Oz; when Rain, Elphaba's granddaughter, returns to Kiamo Ko and finds Nanny still alive under the care of an equally elderly Chistery. It is revealed that Nanny closed and locked the door of the tower room Elphaba died in, disallowing anyone to go in. Rain repeatedly asks her what she saw and she refuses to say. However, it may be that Elphaba's return is actually Rain herself, since once the spell disguising her green skin is removed she looks exactly like Elphaba.

Elphaba in the musical[edit]

For the musical Wicked, Elphaba was written to be less cynical, more likable, and far more sympathetic than the novel counterpart. Her only abnormality is her green skin. In the book, Elphaba virtually goes insane, and genuinely becomes "wicked", though understandably so. In the musical, Elphaba is framed by the Wizard and Madame Morrible for crimes she "committed" on the Wizard's orders, and because she refused to turn her powerful magic to the wizard's sickening cause. Therefore, the public turns against her. She never truly turns wicked though she is depressed and frustrated that she could not save Fiyero. Liir, Sarima and her children are not present in the musical, and a love triangle with Fiyero and Glinda exists instead of the posthumous one (after Fiyero's death) with Sarima. The young Elphaba shows interest in sorcery from the beginning of her education, as opposed to having it thrust upon her as in the book. Elphaba is explicitly shown to survive at the end, and goes to live a life beyond Oz with Fiyero, where in the book her impending resurrection is only hinted. Elphaba is also the creator of the Tin Woodman (through a spell to save Boq, who had had his heart shrunken to apparent non-existence by Nessarose), the Scarecrow (through a spell with which she attempts to save Fiyero from being tortured to death on her account) and the Cowardly Lion (the Lion Cub she rescued from the class after Doctor Dillamond's removal); in the book the former is a result of an axe bewitched by Nessarose, and the latter's existence has nothing to do with Fiyero, other than her slight suspicion that he might indeed be her love coming back to find her, which just proves to be a paranoid delusion. Elphaba also has a less significant vendetta with Madame Morrible in the musical than in the book: In the novel, Elphaba relentlessly attempts to kill Morrible, but in the musical, Elphaba has virtually nothing to do with her after the conclusion of the first act, being more focused on the Wizard.

Her relationship with Glinda (called "Galinda" until she renames herself in the latter part of the first act claiming it to be in honor of Doctor Dillamond, in fact it is an attempt to get Fiyero to notice her again) is a central feature of the musical. As in the novel, the two initially despise each other, but eventually develop a strong friendship. For a while, Elphaba goes along with Glinda's attempts to make her popular, but her rebellious and revolutionary nature ultimately forces her to reject both social and political popularity in favor of doing what she knows to be right in fighting to save the Animals. Just prior to Elphaba's supposed melting, the two confess that each has been changed by their friendship. In addition, Elphaba admits that Glinda was the only friend she ever had, and Glinda replies that Elphaba was the only friend she has ever had who really mattered.

Elphaba demonstrates a natural talent in the field of sorcery early in the musical, and is selected by Madame Morrible to be tutored personally. She progresses quickly, and is eventually called before the Wizard of Oz himself, with a view to becoming his "magic Grand Vizier". However, she learns that the Wizard is in fact a powerless fraud after he tricks her into creating the flying monkeys which he plans to use as spies. Elphaba steals the Grimmerie from him and sets herself up as a rebel. In retaliation, the Wizard has Madame Morrible spread the rumor that Elphaba is a "Wicked Witch", to turn the public against her. She becomes the subject of national hatred thereafter, and her attempts to convince the people as to the Wizard's corrupt rule are regarded as slander. As more and more of her friends turn against her, Elphaba gradually comes to accept her reputation as a villain, and the supposed death of Fiyero is what finally causes her to embrace it completely. However, when she realizes that Fiyero has in fact survived, Elphaba acknowledges the mistakes she has made in her life, and decides to get a fresh start outside of Oz.

In the musical, Elphaba's aversion to water is no more than one of several ridiculous rumors started by those who fear her. Elphaba uses this to her advantage by disappearing when Dorothy throws a bucket of water at her, fooling everyone into believing she has been killed, even though she just went down a trapdoor.

The role was originated on Broadway and in London by Idina Menzel, who won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Actresses to be billed in the lead role in various productions include

North America[edit]

Broadway, New York

South America[edit]