Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stephanie's Favorite Fictional Character --- Elphaba

 I am very happy to turn this weeks Favorite Fictional Character post over to someone whom I have come to respect very much.  Stephanie of Misfit Salon is a brilliant blogger and writer who has never steered me wrong.  We have remarkably similar taste sometimes and I know that anytime I want a book that is a little dark, odd, or just plain on the strange side, I can turn to her.  She publishers her own webzine, Misfit, that showcases the kind of short fiction I love.  If you don't know her or it's been a while since you have visited, please go on over and say hi to one of my favorite bloggers.

I am so very pleased to participate in my first ever Favorite Fictional Character, and as difficult a task as choosing which among my many choices, I went with someone who embodies my misfit tendencies:  Elphaba from Wicked the Musical. 

She is, of course, the heroine of Wicked the novel by Gregory Maguire, but as anyone who has read both the book and seen the musical, there are only slight resemblances between the two (and very little passing resemblance to the villain in the original story by Frank L. Baum).  The story works for me in both forms in different ways, but I found that Elphaba is portrayed in a more appealing way in the musical.  (Plus you have the catchy songs and breathtaking set design!)

Everything I love and admire about Elphaba is portrayed in the musical’s climactic number, Defying Gravity.  She is the ultimate outcast and has been so since the day she was  Misunderstood, rebellious, about to be persecuted, and ultimately abandoned by her best friend, Glinda, Elphaba sticks to her guns, draws on her magic powers and, with the soldiers banging down the door, rises with a defiant vow:

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!

I embrace this powerful message – that you have to stand up for what you believe in, even when everyone is against you and thinks you’re the Wicked Witch.  Rise above it and defy gravity!
My gratitude, Ryan, for the opportunity to gush about one of my favorite misfits!


Simcha said...

Wow, great post! I tried reading Wicked once but I couldn't get into it, though my husband keeps insisting that I should give it another shot. I've never seen the musical either, though I do love this song.

Blodeuedd said...

Nice choice :) even if I have not read the book or seen the show. but I want to

Anonymous said...

Ryan – What a wonderful intro! The respect is mutual and I am just jumping up and down over being called “brilliant.” I am so touched that you asked me to do this and funny enough, today of all days, I really needed to be reminded of Elphaba’s message. So I’m doubly thankful.

Anonymous said...

Simcha – The book takes a bit to get used to as it is rather odd, but I agree 100% with your husband :)

Blodeuedd – If you ever have a chance, go see the show – it is spectacular!

Amy said...

Such a fantastic choice, I love Wicked and Elphaba, though have to admit that I have much more love for the book version of her! The book version of Elphaba would probably (ok definitely!) be my favorite character!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I've sadly not seen the musical, but I did enjoy the book. I can see why the book is hard for people to get into as I don't think Maguire writes consistently. However, it has been my favorite of his books. Great choice for character!

Missie said...

Agreed! Steph is a brilliant blogger.


I'm epic fail because I haven't read Wicked or had the opportunity to se the musical. Elphaba may be green, bu she is still gorgeous. It takes incredibility bravery to stand up for yourself when you have been wrongly judged. Elphaba sounds very admirable.

Thanks for sharing.

Ryan G said...

I haven't read the book or seen the show, so now I really want to do both. Thanks Stephanie for showing me character that I would love, just like I knew you would.

Bookish Brunette said...

Oh. My. God.

Dude, SERIOUSLY- my NOOK is 'named' Elphaba. Swear to God! I LOVE her!

Anonymous said...

Amy - The book Elphaba is a very flawed character, but fascinating nevertheless. ***SPOILER*** Something about how she seemed so detached from her son once he was born alienated me.

Melissa (Books and Things) - So far I've only read 3 of Maguire's books, Wicked; Mirror, Mirror; and Confessions of a Stepsister - all very inventive twists of familiar fairy tales.

Missie - Oh, thank you so much! What a great day this is turning into! Elphaba is my personal heroine so I'm glad I was able to re-introduce her to you.

Ryan - I thought more people would have seen the musical or read the book, so I'm glad I was able to shine a spotlight on someone not quite so familiar with you. So glad you invited me to participate.

Ashley - NO Way!!! That is so cool! I'd share the names for my various devices except I don't want to look like a total geek :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

You know I've never seen musical or read this book. But I have heard great things of it. :) So glad you picked this character. Thank you!

Yvette said...

A terrific choice. Though I haven't seen the show or read the book, I got the flavor of both through your wonderful post.

Belle said...

Wicked is one of my fave musicals (I've seen it four times, yikes) but I haven't read the book because I've heard it's so different from the musical and I don't want to be disappointed. I LOVE Elphaba, too! Awesome post :)

Misha said...

Great pick! I have only read the book, and that was a few years back. I think I will like Elphaba from the musical more, since I kind of had a hard time connecting to the her in the book.

Anonymous said...

Melissa (My World) - I hope to make a convert out of you!

Yvette - The musical is funny, surprising, and definitely uplifting. If you can, try to listen to the other songs.

Belle - Four times! Jealous. Yes, the book is very different, but very much worth reading.

Misha - I have a feeling you will love the musical.

VR Barkowski said...

Great choice! Elphaba is an amazing character. Haven't had the privilege of seeing the musical, but Wicked was the first audiobook I ever listened to, and it was brilliant. I might have put the book down had I been reading it, but listening, I was mesmerized. Would love to see the play someday.

Anonymous said...

LOVE Elphaba. I'm listening to Son of a Witch right now and it's nice to at least hear her talked about.
I loved the book so much that I was disappointed in the musical. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn't expected it to resemble the book more.
Great choice, Stephanie!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Great post, Stephanie! I'm ashamed to say that I have not read Wicked, although I do own the book...and its sequels. I will read them someday. *sighs* I do know enough about the musical to really want to see it. It's coming to Nashville this Fall. I'm kind of hoping my mom will take me for my birthday. A girl can hope...and hint a little. =O)

Anonymous said...

V.R. - Maguire didn't make Elphaba completely inrecognizable from Baum's book. She was so complex and richly drawn and the book in general was breathtaking.

Stacy - One of my friends expressed the same sentiment. He felt the musical was a very watery version of the book.

Michelle - Perhaps if you show her some Youtube vids of the musical. I suggest One Short Day and Defying Gravity. That should entice her :)

Ceri said...

I love Elphaba. Whether as a wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz or as the heroine in Wicked, she's such an awesome character. :D

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

"No one mourns the WICKED!" One of my favorite musicals!

JaneGS said...

A beautiful tribute to a remarkable and original character--so proud when I hear my kids belting "Defying Gravity"

Happy blogiversary -- the book loving community is a very special place!