nell65: (Default)
So, I'm still thinking about Wicked, and mulling over the way I immediately began comparing it to Mists of Avalon, another re-write of an older story from the POV of the wicked witch, who is revealed as neither wicked, nor a particularly powerful witch - and one who, in this new telling, comes across as hopelessly over-matched by her heroic-opponent in the original tale. That last is the part that I can't figure out if it is intentional, or a by product of something else.

The other point of similarity, in both, were the long periods during which the witch had to be out of commission, time-line wise, to make the plot work out right. In MOA, after the crucial 'get impregnated with Mordred' moment, Morgaine first spends years in Avalon (ignoring her son), then has a brief period of activity and purpose, but then doesn't fight to get out of a really stupid arranged marriage and goes off to be a dutiful wife in boring distant Scotland (or somewhere 'far away') for fifteen crucial, off-stage years - during which she loses her magic altogether for lack of using it. Thus rendering her quite powerless and without friends, resources, allies, or, really, even much purpose, during her final center-stage moments.

In Wicked, Ephaba is center stage during her early adulthood, then - and this part is eerie - gets pregnant by accident and is so distraught by the events surrounding that impregnation that she spends seven years in spiritual retreat utterly ignoring her son - emerges briefly into a period of activity - then once again retreats, this time to mountain fastness (hmm - like - Scotland?!) - where she spends her time learning to create hybrid animals/Animals. A skill that serves little to no purpose during her final confrontations with the hero or the new bad guy.

What bugged me no end in MOA was the way Morgaine and her fellow followers of the old religions, lost out to Arthur and his new gods mostly by absence of mind.

Wicked has - to me - a similar dynamic going on, where Elphaba basically never seems to have a clue what the Wizard is up to, or why, or why so many in Oz would put up with it - and never seems very effective at figuring any of it out, either. Rendering her hopelessly over-matched by forces that mystify her at the end.

It's like, there is an undercurrent here of showing that no, these scary, powerful ladies aren't really scary at all! See! No power! Woo Hoo!

And I'm like, wait. Wait. That's not an improvement!

Now I do understand that this is not the most dominate feature of either novel - but when I started thinking about why the one reminded me so forcefully of the other - this is what came up.

Nell
nell65: (Default)
So. I've finished reading Wicked, and I'm about half way through S2 of Buffy.

It took me a while to get into Wicked - basically, things picked up pace *dramatically* as far as I was concerned once Elphaba arrived in Shiz - once I made it there, I finished the rest in about three days! (Including two hours today when I really should have been doing something else! *g*)

I really like Elphaba, and Glinda both, but especially Elphaba - in fact, as I was mulling it over on my various kid collection trips today - Elphaba has many of the same characteristics that I like so much in Nikita; so much that I've had a whole new series of muzzy thoughts about another possible future for Nikita in Section.

The only thing that I didn't like so much was, oddly enough, that the story-line also reminded me a good bit of what frustrated me about Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley's re-write of Camelot from the POV of Morgaine; that is, that so much of the plot is driven by the need to make Elphaba/Morgaine's fates conform to canon that they both repeatedly make guesses that turn out to be just a little crucial bit wrong, combined with a refusal to share information or ask basic questions when it matters - or have a good backup plan.

It didn't really 'feel' like a classic tragedy to me though, because her story was so constrained by the source material, the shape of the story as PTerry might say, that it didn't really matter *what* she did or was like, the plot was going to melt her no matter what. Which brings up an interesting constraint on fanfic sorts of stories - that is, stories where the reader already knows what happens by being familiar with the source material(s) in the end can't really write 'character-driven' stories about anyone but the original protagonist unless they are going to deviate from canon altogether at some point.

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