Since I was a child, my favorite tale has always been The Wonderful Wizard of Oz wrote by L. Frank Baum during the 1900s. Later in 1939, MGM turned it into a movie every one would enjoy. Now as an adult, I reread the story and asked myself what is the message that Baum sends out through writing in this children’s book. It is obvious that not many children understand the meaning of the themes introduced in the tale. The feminist philosophy behind the characterization of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was an ineffective tanglement on L. Frank Baum’s classic American tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. How did the film interpreted the feminist ideals concerning Baum’s text?
( Quiet humorous, start watching at 30 sec. and ends at 2:30 sec.)
What does feminism mean? Well feminism urges the full integration of women into society, demanding women’s equal rights, equal work, equal pay, and, equal status and treatments in public and private relations (Keetley 16). Meaning to wipe out the distinctions based on gender. During the 1900’s woman were considered to stay at home: cleaning, cooking and raising a family. Baum’s Dorothy is viewed as a sweet, kind and loving girl who has brains and power and takes on the adventures alone.
Rosie the Riveter- feminist symbol to all woman during WWII
In the MGM film, the script writers and all who were associated with making the film(which were all male) wanted to give the audience that typical hopeless girl that only dreams what she cannot do in real life (Harmetz 26). Dorothy did not accomplish anything in the movie, since it was all just a dream. The film made the adventures of Oz seem like another silly wonderland. The theme of the film was that Dorothy was nothing without her home, that she felt empty because she was not in Kansas. The main message of the film to the audience is that home is where one should be. That taking adventures are just silly and that home is where Dorothy needs to be to feel whole in life. Why dream of adventures? when you can live them.
Dorothy in Baum’s text shows anger when the witch takes one of her silver shoes, with that being said she immediately reacts. Dorothy takes action by throwing a bucket of water, which made the witch melt (Baum 69). Dorothy stood up for herself although she did not know that the witch would melt. Dorothy was not afraid to defend herself, even the witch was surprised that a little innocent girl like Dorothy could kill her “ I have been wicked in my day, but I never thought a little girl like you would be able to melt me and end my wicked deeds” (Baum 69).
Dorothy’s goal is trying to go back home to her regular farm girl life, “We people of flesh and blood would rather live there (dreary and gray home) than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home” (Baum 21). The value of home is questioned in Dorothy’s response to the scarecrow (Durand and Leigh 111). In Baum’s perspective, Dorothy enjoyed having those adventures, she happily returns home as an American heroine who had unforgettable experiences. The adventures helped shaped her personality and view of life. Although she is only a child, one as a child can discover many hidden characteristics never experienced before. All that she has learned will help her develop into a powerful and intelligent woman (Durand and Leigh 186).
MGM film might be more popular than the text itself, obviously, because it is a visual. The film did not cover the rich ideal of a woman (or little girl) being able to do anything if she is able to set her mind to do so. Although the film was made 39 years later, Dorothy’s character lacks the feminist view. A little girl from Kansas was able to accomplish so much and was recognized by the Land of Oz for saving them from the evil witch. Yet, it does not matter because according to the film that would not be possible to accomplish. However, Dorothy made the difference in the Land of Oz and she can too make the difference in Kansas if she wishes.
( There’s No Place Like Home-film’s ending )
The feminist characterization of Dorothy in Baum’s text shows self-reliance, capability of doing anything that she can imagine- even saving a foreign land from evil. Dorothy is the medium to all the women during the 1900s, regardless of her being a little girl. In dreams, we can do anything, but in real life, we can too. Do not let the film fool you into thinking woman’s only place should be home, and that taking adventures are just silly thoughts. The courage, independence, and intelligence of Dorothy is meant to inspire other woman into exploring more than just there backyard.
Baum L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Chicago, New York: George M. HillCompany, 1990. Print.
Durand, Kevin k. and Mary K. Leigh, eds. The Universe of Oz: essays on Baum’s series and its progeny. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2010. Print.
Harmetz, Aljiean. The making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM. New York: Hyperion, 1998. Print
Keetley, Dawn. Public Woman Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism, Vol. 2, 1900-1960.Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Print.
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