All right, “Gillikin” is read; for those who have seen the musical, this is most of Act I, where Elphaba and Galinda are students at Shiz, part of Crage Hall, which is the all girls’ school in the University. In this section, we meet Galinda, Madame Morrible, Boq, Fiyero, Doctor Dillamond and Nessarose (for those who are familiar with the musical), as well as Avaric, Nanny, Ama Clutch, Grommetik, Shenshen, Crope, Tibbett and Pfannee, students and chaperones at Shiz.
The most prevalent issue in “Gillikin” is the rights of Animals, the sentient creatures who can walk and talk and act more “human” than animal. The Wizard has now been in power for fifteen years and he is systematically working to take away the rights of Animals and reduce them back to animals (Notice the distinction). While at the school, Elphaba assists Doctor Dillamond in his research, a Theory of Consciousness Inclination; he wanted to prove the distinction between Animals and animals and find the origin of it. However, when he finds a breakthrough, he is murdered in his laboratory, and the murder is hushed up, saying that it was an accident. He is replaced by a human professor, who pushes the Wizard’s agenda that Animals can be reduced to animals.
Religion is also briefly brought up again in “Gillikin,” mainly through Nessarose, who is Elphaba’s sister and has inherited her father’s religious zeal. It is also seen in The Philosophy Club, which is a place where the students go and it is a fragment of the pleasure religions; we see the dwarf from the Tik Tok Dragon in “Munchkinlanders” and the witch that foresaw the greatness of Elphaba and Nessarose mans the door of the club. The Philosophy Club mocks the Unnamed God and praises the Dragon of Time. The Kumbric Witch is introduced in this section and she is another religion. All the religions have a theory about how the Animals came about and these are the stories that Doctor Dillamond researches.
In the later part of “Gillikin,” the audience sees Madame Morrible’s manipulations and how she plans to use the students of Shiz to push the Wizard’s agenda. She approaches Galinda (who has changed her name to Glinda at this point), Elphaba and Nessarose. Madame wants them to become Adepts in the various areas of Oz and promote the Wizard to the different people who live there. However, Elphaba has never been someone to follow another person’s wishes.
She takes Glinda and goes to Oz to see the Wizard; similar to the musical, she confronts the Wizard, who is a great Tik Tok creation to the public. He admonishes Elphaba when she presents Doctor Dillamond’s findings; he shoots down her arguments and tries to move her away from the extremes of emotion and religion, convincing her to take the middle of the road and be passive. In response, Elphaba sends Glinda back to Shiz to finish her education and look after Nessarose and she goes underground to help the oppressed. (And I do have “Defying Gravity” stuck in my head at the moment).
This is the section where I tend to get tripped up. I know that the musical and the book are different, but they are just similar enough in these two sections that I now better understand “Gillikin” after having seen the musical. I can see the differences between the two, but I can use the knowledge of the musical and apply some of it to the book. Also, reading it for the third (or fifth) time has helped. But I better see and understand the political and religious propaganda. I’m also beginning to see a developing minor/major role in Mother Yackle. She’s only mentioned briefly in “Munchkinlanders” as the witch who foresaw the greatness of Elphaba and the then-unborn Nessarose. In “Gillikin” she works at the Philosophy Club and ushers in the group of students that visit and don’t come out unchanged. I’m actively looking for her next part in “City of Emeralds.”