Study Guide

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Volume 1, Chapter 3

By Gregory Maguire

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Volume 1, Chapter 3

The Birth of a Witch

  • Cue the Wicked Witch of the West theme: she's on her way!
  • Though that's probably mean to hum for a baby, so we apologize.
  • Frex busts out some archaic (old-fashioned) language, yells at his immoral congregation, and says "ye" a lot.
  • The congregation is mildly embarrassed, but they still want to see the Clock of the Time Dragon.
  • Luckily for them the dwarf who runs the show wheels his Clock into town.
  • A desperate Frex points out that the Clock isn't even a real clock, since the hands are painted on at "one minute before midnight." (1.3.8)
  • Frex badgers his congregation and reminds them of the judgment of the Unnamed God (shades of Jonathan Edward's Puritan classic "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" there), but no one listens.
  • The dwarf gives a welcome speech to his show:

    Come nearer, my good people, and watch what a little extra knowledge augurs for your lives! The Time Dragon sees before and beyond and within the truth of your sorry span of years here! Look at what it shows you! (1.3.13)

  • Fun fact: The word "augurs" here refers to "augury," a method of divination, or telling the future, that people used back in the day. It involves examining the behavior of birds and is referenced in several Shakespeare plays. The word "augur" now means to predict something.
  • The Clock opens and shows a little toy Frex with a secret stash of gold. This wooden Frex is stabbed and then eaten by his congregation. This got very Lord of the Flies all of a sudden.
  • Apparently the congregation thinks this a great idea, and they proceed to beat up the real Frex. They don't resort to cannibalism, though.
  • Some nice people help Frex escape while the rest of the crowd is distracted by the Clock show. Frex is hidden away and sends some women to look after Melena in case a mob goes after her.
  • History Snack! This scene with the Clock and the ensuing mob frenzy is reminiscent of Carnivals – the kind they had in old-timey Europe, not modern-day New Orleans. These Carnivals often featured puppet and other types of theatrical shows where people would abuse and ridicule people of wealth and power. Carnivals involved lots of drinking and partying and violent outbursts weren't uncommon. Interested in learning more about this topic?
  • Meanwhile, Melena is in labor, and a fishwife (a woman who sells fish), a young maiden, and an old woman are helping her. They are also gossiping about her, since Melena came from money originally, and these women find her stuck-up.
  • The women hustle Melena out of the house when they hear that a drunk mob is coming.
  • They end up hiding her inside the Clock of the Time Dragon, of all places, and Melena gives birth to a green girl there.
  • The women are horrified and fascinated by the baby, particularly her razor-sharp teeth.
  • The green baby bites one of the women and tastes blood. We thought she was a Witch, not a vampire!
  • The women leave Melena and her newborn baby alone in the Clock, and the baby stares up at the clock's gears.

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