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Frexspar
First appearance Wicked (1995)
Last appearance Wicked (1995)
Created by Gregory Maguire
Portrayed by Sean McCourt
Information
Nickname(s) Frexspar the Godly
Frex
Species human
Gender male
Age sixty three (at last appearance) [1]
Date of birth unknown
Date of death unknown
Occupation minister
Spouse(s) Melena Thropp
Children Elphaba (surrogate daughter)
Nessarose (surrogate daughter)
Shell (son)
Address Colwen Grounds (at last appearance)
Nationality Munchkinlander

Frexspar (also called Frexspar the Godly or Frex) is a fictional character in Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Though a Munchkinlander by birth, Frex is considerably taller than most of his fellow countrymen, his family (like many middle and upper class Munckinlander families) having "married into height somewhere along the line". Frex is the seventh son of a seventh son, as well as being the seventh generation of his family to become a minister. He is married to Melena Thropp, the granddaughter of the Eminent Thropp of Munchkinland. He is also the father of Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East), and Shell (the future Emperor of Oz), though one if not both of the first two children were conceived of Melena’s extramarital affairs. Frex is a unionist minister and missionary, and frequently leaves Melena alone for long periods of time while he is off preaching. For this reason, she feels lonely and neglected, and is often unfaithful to him.

Frex has a prominent role in the first section of the book, and makes cameo appearances in the fourth and fifth sections.

Contents

In the Novel

When first introduced, Frex is living with Melena in the village of Rush Margins in Munchkinland. Melena is heavily pregnant with a child later revealed to have been conceived by the Wizard of Oz, but Frex has been charged with preaching against a pagan device called the "Clock of the Time Dragon" in a nearby village, and is therefore absent on the day of the child’s birth. His failure to sway the villagers to his point of view shatters his confidence as a minister, and haunts him throughout the rest of the novel. However, he soon finds himself faced with far more immediately pressing concerns: Melena’s baby girl is born with green skin and inhumanly sharp teeth, and has to be restrained to prevent her from biting everything nearby. Frex blames himself for the child’s abnormalities, speculating that his careless remark that "The Devil is coming" on her birthday may have somehow opened a pathway for her to be possessed by demons. He also believes that the child may be the result of Melena’s misinterpretation of said remark, or a punishment for his own failure with the Clock. He chooses to name the child Elphaba, after Saint Aelphaba of the Waterfall, and is the only one to call her by the nickname 'Fabala'. He accompanies Melena’s old Nanny on her journey from Colwen Grounds to Rush Margins, where she attempts to cure the child’s abnormalities. When her attempts fail, Frex attempts to exorcise the girl, but this does not work either. Since Frex will not allow any attempts to cure the child by magic, the family are forced to accept their strange daughter, albeit with extreme reluctance.

When Frex returns from yet another preaching excursion, he finds that his wife has befriended a wandering Quadling glassblower named Turtle Heart (apparently unknown to Frex, the two are also having an affair). It is implied that Frex also has sexual feelings for Turtle Heart; at the very least, he falls in love with the man, and admits as much to Elphaba later in the novel. Shortly thereafter, Melena accidentally blurts out that she is pregnant, and it is implied that the child may be Turtle Heart’s. This baby, Nessarose, is born on the same day that Turtle Heart is brutally sacrificed in a pagan ritual, and this event prompts the Thropps to move to Quadling Country, where Frex seeks the forgiveness of Turtle Heart’s family and attempts to convert the people to unionism. Elphaba later cites the Quadlings' refusal to forgive Frex as the event which caused him to 'lose his way' in life. In this respect, Frex and Elphaba have a lot in common: After Elphaba's adulterous affair with Fiyero ends in his being murdered, she goes to Kiamo Ko to beg the forgiveness of his wife Sarima. Just like her father, her failure to obtain this forgiveness sets her on a severe slide, which, in her case, has reduced her to a state of madness by the end of her life.

The baby Nessarose is born without arms, possibly as a side effect of medicine which Melena took during her pregnancy to prevent the baby having green skin. However, despite this deformity, Nessa grows to be beautiful, dainty and every bit as zealous as Frex, if not more so, in complete contrast to the ‘ugly’, violent and atheistic Elphaba. In addition, the fact that Nessa may have been fathered by Turtle Heart causes Frex to view her as a reminder of his murdered Quadling love. These factors all cause Frex to dote upon and favour Nessa, leaving Elphaba feeling neglected. Melena dies during the birth of her third child and first son, Shell, implied to be the only of the three to have been legitimately fathered by Frex.

While his daughters are at Shiz University, Frex purchases a pair of slippers, and, using skills gleaned from Turtle Heart, decorates them with silver beads, thus creating the famed silver shoes of the original novel, which later become the ruby slippers after Glinda places a spell upon them. He sends these to Nessa as a gift, but does not include anything for Elphaba, who later comes to view the shoes as a symbol of his neglect. When Nessa assumes the title of Eminent Thropp, Frex moves with her to the stately mansion of Colwen Grounds, and sends a letter to Elphaba asking her to come and help her sister deal with the pressures of government. Elphaba stays at Colwen Grounds for a few days, during which Frex tells her of Nessarose’s questionable paternity. After the death of Nessarose, Frex enters a state of abject grief, which Elphaba speculates will kill him before long.

In the Musical

Like that of Melena, Frex's counterpart in the Broadway musical Wicked has a much less significant role than in the novel. In this adaptation, he is not a minister, but the governor of Munchkinland. He is seen only three time in the musical: First in a flashback, sharing a romantic goodbye with his wife as he leaves on business, ignorant of her rendezvous with the Wizard as soon as he has gone; again in a flashback, at the birth of Elphaba, who he refuses to hold or even look at; and finally bringing his two daughters to Shiz. Elphaba mentions that while her mother was pregnant with Nessarose, Frex made her eat milkflowers to ensure that the child would not have green skin, but that this induced a premature labour which killed her mother and left Nessa unable to walk.

As in the novel, Frex favours Nessarose over Elphaba, but his relationship with his oldest daughter is very different: In the book he sees Elphaba as a punishment for his inadequacies as a preacher, but the musical reveals that he blames her for Nessa's disability and the death of his wife; it should also be noted that though the character of the novel is merely less affectionate with Elphaba than Nessa, the musical character is openly critical of her, and speaks harshly to her even in public. Frex gives Nessa her silver shoes on the day she and Elphaba start college, and leaves after sternly reminding Elphaba to take care of her sister. Frex dies after he learns that Elphaba has decided to rebel against the Wizard, apparently of a heart attack. Shell is not present in the musical, nor is Turtle Heart.

The character (who is credited as 'Witch's Father') was originally played by Sean McCourt, who can be heard on the original cast recording of the show.

Personality and Traits

Frex is devoutly religious, almost to the point of fanaticism, and spends much of his time preaching to local peasants. He dedicates himself to his missionary work at the expense of caring for his wife and children, something which earns him a certain degree of resentment from Melena, and forces her to escape her loneliness in the arms of other men. Frex sees magic and sorcery as direct affronts to the Unnamed God, so much so that when Nanny suggests using magic to alter Elphaba’s skin colour, he lashes out and strikes the elderly woman. When discussing the subject of sorcery with Turtle Heart, he at first criticises it in a calm fashion, but quickly degenerates into a semi-hysterical rant. It is therefore ironic that both of his daughters, even the one whom he had favoured for her piety, eventually become witches. His willingness to engage in a relationship with Turtle Heart while still married to Melena also implies that he is somewhat of a hypocrite, as he had previously preached against such sexual indulgence, and later claims that Nessarose's abnormal appearance is a punishment for Melena's infidelity.

Frex is a very closed-minded character, as evidenced by his flippant and sometimes even racist attitude towards paganism and superstition in general: When Turtle Heart claims to have seen omens foretelling the doom of Quadling Country at the hands of industrialists, Frex dismisses his concerns out of hand. He also voices his opinion that Princess Ozma’s being a fairy is nothing more than a fanciful legend, and is openly insulting to Nanny when she states her devotion to pagan "Lurlinism". However, despite his general closed-mindedness, his relationship with Turtle Heart reveals him to be bisexual, and he seems to find himself attracted to those who do not share his religious or moral views, such as the promiscuous Melena and the superstitious Turtle Heart.

Frex is also somewhat conceited and self-centred: He believes himself to be such a good person as to attract the attention and hatred of powerful evil spirits, and instantly assumes that his actions are the cause of Elphaba’s mutations, a belief which he retains right up to the end of his life (but which, as Elphaba learns from the dwarf who owns the Clock of the Time Dragon, is entirely incorrect). After the death of Nessarose, Elphaba learns that Frex always believed Nessa's deformity to be his wife's punishment for her affair with Turtle Heart, and cites this as the reason why he always favoured his second daughter: since he blamed someone else for her physical problems, he did not see her as a reminder of his own inadequacy, as he did Elphaba.

References

  1. ^ Maguire, Gregory (1995). Wicked. Harper Collins. pp. page 411. ISBN 0-06-135096-6.  
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