LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Love of a Tin Man

on March 13, 2013 9:56pm

One of the most intriguing and puzzling aspects of the Wizard of Oz story, for myself, centers around the Tin Man. More specifically: the Tin Man’s back story and how it creates a contradiction when viewed alongside the Tin Man’s intended actions as stated at the end of the Wizard of Oz. In the Tin Man’s back story we find out that the Tin Man falls in love with a munchkin girl and, in the attempt to win her hand in marriage, ends up cutting off all of his limbs and has them replaced with tin. The Tin Man then states that he believes that “I suppose she is still living with the old woman, waiting for me to come after her” and that, should Oz grant him a heart, “I will go back to the Munchkin maiden and marry her.”

Here we can see that the Tin Man clearly states his purpose: once he gains a heart he will find and marry his munchkin girl. However the reader later finds out this is not the case. Glinda inquires into the Tin Man’s plan once Dorothy returns home and the Tin Man replies: “The Winkies were very kind to me, and wanted me to rule over them after the Wicked Witch died. I am fond of the Winkies, and if I could get back again to the Country of the West, I should like nothing better than to rule over them forever.”

I always wanted to rule some people..... and thats it

I always wanted to rule some people….. and that’s it

At this point, Chapter 23, the Tin Man has already gained his “heart” from the great and powerful Oz and does not, at any point after obtaining the heart, think of his “love” the Munchkin girl nor does he even consider returning to munchkin territory as his final wish instead placing himself on the complete opposite side of Oz forevermore.

This then leads to the intriguing question about the Tin Man: Did he truly love the munchkin girl that he was willing to lose all of his limbs for? It appears that he was willing to sacrifice his limbs for her and yet I would argue that it is not love that he felt for this girl. Rather, I feel like the Tin Man can be seen as a “Knight” figure by comparing how  the Tin Man looks to that of a stereotypical image of a Knight in full battle armor as well as the Tin Man’s ruthless efficiency in killing the wolves.

Like Two Men inside some Armor

Like Two Men inside some Armor

This Knight Tin Man held a form of “fealty” to the Munchkin girl. This “fealty”, which the Tin Man wrongly labeled as love, gets transferred to Dorothy and thus he easily forgets the Munchkin girl he “loved” and no longer worries after her fate.


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