Study Guide

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Volume 1, Chapter 4

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Volume 1, Chapter 4

Maladies and Remedies

  • Melena and Frex are having a really hard time mustering up any enthusiasm for their baby.
  • They are both depressed and horrified by her "deformity."
  • Melena's old Nanny arrives to help them out, and she isn't thrilled with how selfish and cruel they are acting toward their baby.
  • We learn that they named her Elphaba, after Saint Aelphaba of the Waterfall (oh, the irony).
  • Nanny goes to meet Elphaba and notices that she baby is pretty normal, except for being green.
  • The baby creeps Nanny out, though, since she seems weirdly intelligent and aware: "she had an unreasonable fear of being overheard by this infant, and, worse, of being understood" (1.4.51)
  • Frex insists that his green baby is the Unnamed God's way of punishing him for failing as a minister. Or else the Unnamed God is punishing Melena.
  • Frex then goes off to prepare for an exorcism to "cure" Elphaba.
  • Melena and Nanny settle down to talk, and Nanny speculates that Melena had an affair.
  • Melena denies it, though not for lack of wishing, since Frex is rather dull.
  • Nanny learns that Melena has been doing some recreational drugs and a lot of drinking, and the women decide that she may have been raped by someone with a green-skin-causing disease.
  • Melena does recall drinking some weird tonic from a green bottle. It was sold to her by a random traveling salesman, and she had bizarre dreams of an "Other World" after drinking it.
  • Frex's exorcism doesn't work, and Nanny and Frex violently argue about religion. Nanny then leaves, uncertain as to what Elphaba is exactly:

    Perhaps, thought Nanny, little green Elphaba chose her own sex, and her own color, and to hell with her parents. (1.4.109)

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