Essay on Dorothy's Heroic Journey in The Wizard of Oz
1286 Words6 Pages
Frank Baums, The Wizard of Oz is arguably one of the most popular films made. Even though it was released in 1939, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, the film continues to entertain audiences and speak to them in a personal way. The question that comes to the mind when analyzing this film is: What is it about this film that gives it such timelessness? When reflecting on the film’s timeless qualities, it seems clear the plot is one of the things that enable it to maintain its relevance. Primarily, the plot of The Wizard of Oz is timeless because it is such an excellent example of the heroic journey, both in literally and cinematically. This journey of self-awareness is a metaphor for growth, which is something we all search to discover…show more content…
In The Wizard of Oz, the ordinary world and the beginning of the adventure are presented with stunning visual effects. Dorothy, the protagonist, is shown struggling in her ordinary world. She is confronted by the mean neighbor Miss Gulch who wants to take away Dorothy’s dog Toto and give him to the animal control authorities because of Toto’s bad behavior. Dorothy reacts childishly with a temper tantrum, begging her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em not to let Miss Gulch have her way. She confronts Miss Gulch when she tries to take Toto, saying, “You wicked old witch! Uncle Henry, Auntie Em, don't let 'em take Toto! Don't let her take him -- please!” (The Wizard of Oz). In a fit of temper, Dorothy decides to run away because she thinks that it is the only way she can protect her dog from Miss Gulch. The plot picks up the story of Dorothy’s life at a rather bleak point. Dorothy is portrayed as powerless and directionless and she does not appreciate the gifts she has in her family and life. Her character flaws and areas of growth are clear from such behavior. She seeks to be the leader of her own life but she lets temper get in the way of her enacting effective change. Furthermore, in her decision to run away Dorothy shows that she does not appreciate those who love her or the blessings of her loving home.
This scene of her ordinary world is highly contrasted with the special world of her adventure, beginning the
Baum was obviously indebted to the eccentric English genius Lewis Carroll (pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871). In Victorian times it was generally believed that books for children should lean heavily on moral instruction. The authors of juvenile literature often intruded into their own stories to point out the moral lessons the stories supposedly illustrated. Carroll believed that children were given too much moral indoctrination and were not allowed to be children. His books about Alice parodied sententious, sanctimonious adults, and he proclaimed that good books should be full of pictures and should be fun to read.
Baum offered a further innovation by combining the traditional elements of fairy tales, such as witches and wizards, with familiar things such as scarecrows and cornfields. He is credited with teaching children to find magic in the ordinary things surrounding them in their daily lives. Although Baum may not have offered much in the way of moral instruction in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or its sequels, he accomplished something more important: He taught millions of children to love reading during their crucial formative years.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was such a phenomenal success that Baum was called upon to produce numerous sequels. After his death in 1919, his publishers commissioned Ruth Plumly Thompson to continue writing sequels. Baum’s original Oz book, his thirteen sequels, and the twenty-one sequels written by Thompson comprise the history of an enchanted land that children continue to discover with the feeling that they have gained possession of something as marvelous as Aladdin’s lamp.