Religious Themes in Wicked the Novel
The remarkable musical Wicked has won and continues to win the hearts of many. Though how many of you have read Wicked the novel and learned the true, original story? Do you know how much religion is present within the original storyline? Because I have to tell you, it is a lot.
For those of you interested in learning about the different religious themes found within the book then this article is for you. I will cover the major religions, overviews of each one, and characters that tie into them.
Wicked gives us four different religions to absorb. Lurlinism, Unionism, Pleasure Faith, and Tiktokism. Yes, some of them have interesting titles, but keep in mind Wicked is about a fictional land called Oz. So there are going to be some weird believes going on.
Let us look at brief summary of what each of these religions are.
Four Major Religions
Lurlinism is the ancient religion within the world of Oz. This religion believes that Fairy Queen Lurline created Oz. Lurline had a daughter called the First Ozma who would rule. This religion is practiced by the Royalists who insist that only the direct descendant of Lurline should be God and sit on the throne. Though when the Wizard arrives, Ozma goes into hiding as a boy named Tip to keep save from the Wizard who proceeds to overthrow the monarchy.
A carefree religious presence in Oz is called the Pleasure Faith. The believers of this religion strive to enjoy themselves in any way possible and trust that magic has the power to do anything you desire. It is implied that the Kumbric Witch was the founder of the Pleasure Faith.
The most common faith in Oz is Unionism. This believes in the Unnamed God and the priests of this religion are not supposed to indulge themselves with worldly possessions, foods, or intimate relations. Unionists frown on those who do not share their conservative nature and fight strongly against those who believe in the more magical religions of Lurlinism and Pleasure Faith.
Tiktokism is the newer and most chaotic religion within Oz. This is a traveling religion that is represented by The Clock of the Time Dragon. The Clock of the Time Dragon is operated by dwarves that have the mechanical clock perform semi-pornographic and disturbing shows. That clock is the centerpiece of this bizarre religious fad which promotes overindulgence and tells people secrets about themselves that they should not always hear. These secrets are not always accurate but then can range from speaking of your past, present, or future.
Pleasure faith and tiktokism are closely tied together but still are their own entity.
The first religion, Lurlinism, is mainly tied to Nanny. Nanny is the one who raised and cared for Elphaba and Nessarose for much of their lives. She was a firm believer in the ancient religion and believed Ozma would return to take back the throne from the Wizard. Nanny also spread her influence to Melena, Elphie and Nessa's mother, long ago.
I will cover Pleasure Faith and Tiktokism at the same time because they are so similar. So lets move on to Unionism.
Some of the bigger characters that practice Unionism are Frexspar and Nessarose. Frexspar is Elphaba's father. He is a Unionist priest and devout believer of the religion. He goes to spread the word quite often which left Melena in charge much of the time. Nessarose, Elphaba's younger sister, decided to follow in her fathers footsteps. She became so devout that it began to worry Frexspar. Despite being a devout Unionist, Nessa uses her magical abilities to perform "miracles" and allows some ritual sacrifices to take place under her rule of Munchkinland.
Now we make our way to the more interesting religions. Pleasure Faith and Tiktokism. The Pleasure Faith is basically the less chaotic version of Tiktokism. Many followers practice the carefree lifestyle of pleasing themselves. Tiktokism takes it to a whole new level. Elphaba was actually born at The Clock of the Time Dragon. Even though Elphaba claims no religion and does not believe in souls, she could never get away from trying to find out more secrets from the Time Dragon. It was so enticing that she always found herself going back to try and learn the truth.
Though the book never states that Melena was a believer in Pleasure Faith or Tiktokism it was definitely implied. She already had some pagan beliefs from growing up with Nanny, but her careless nature to have affairs and take elixirs makes it very clear she was focused on having a good time no matter the cost.
This was a brief overview of the different religions that Oz has to offer. There is so much more depth to them that is hard to convey without throwing in a lot of spoilers. If you have not read Wicked then I highly recommend it. It is a very deep and thoughtful novel that will have you contemplating morals and life in general.