Don’t Rain On Her Parade: Elphaba flies above adversity and embraces her power within

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Note: This article is part of a bigger project honoring strong females, fictional and real, in theatre as part of Women’s History Month.

“Are people born wicked, or is wickedness thrust upon them?” Perhaps the most poignant line and overlooked motif of the musical Wicked. Elphaba is brought into the world from wickedness, through the affair of her mother, and, from the moment of conception, wickedness follows her all of her days. 

Underneath all of the green, there is a subtle eagerness to Elphaba: a willingness to put on the hat when Glinda suggests it would look good on her; hopefulness that as she cares for Nessa, her father will approve of her for once as well. She can hardly let herself think that Fiyero might be interested in her but her thoughts run away from her, if even just for a moment. Each time she finds these soft spots in her soul, a place to let herself be comfortable and free, it is stolen from her: she is laughed out when she appears in the hat, her father can hardly look at her, Fiyero becomes involved with Glinda. No matter how hard she tries she can’t rid herself of her anti-Midas touch that follows her wherever she goes. The more good she tries to do, the more the world screams that she is bad: she tries to help Doctor Dillamond and he is sent away, she tries to care for Nessa and is hated in return.

“Let all Oz be agreed, I’m wicked through and through!” Elphaba exclaims in “No Good Deed” once she realizes that she can’t save Fiyero. She wonders what is the point of having any goodness in her soul if it can’t be used to save the ones she loves.

So is Elphaba wicked or does the world’s constant dull roar telling her she is turn her into such?

She gathers up all of the hurt, all of the shame, all of the pain and the disappointment and she rises. Elphaba does what so many hope to do: she becomes herself to her fullest potential. She stands as tall as she can and realizes her power, her potential. She defies gravity. She defeats the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And when the villagers yell “wicked!” this time she doesn’t stop them. This time she leans into it, she flies solo and free. Fiyero is safe and alive. Made of straw, yes, but still there and still in love with her. Glinda is changed for the better because of her time spent with Elphaba.

The wickedness inside of her isn’t evil. It is power. It is the gift that the universe gave to her. It is only once she finally embraces it that she can become the person she was meant to be. Emerald green, with the world against her, but with the monkeys safe, Fiyero whole and unbroken, Glinda leading the people with all of the goodness and love possible to fit into that bubble.

Elphaba teaches again and again that the power inside of a person will only be actualized when it’s allowed. When someone takes all of the things that make them special and not only embrace them, but showcase them. It is then, when a person embraces their true self, that all of those things they have always hoped for become attainable. For Elphaba it was love and friendship, a family that loves her, and as a peaceful Oz led by a just ruler. Elphaba defied gravity and, by following her example, anyone else can too.   

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About Nicole N.

"Say yes. Show up afraid, show up prepared, but say yes." - Renee Elise Goldsberry

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