For my final paper I am hoping to focus on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and whether it is truly a feminist novel as many people believe it to be. I also have some questions about whether the female characters are powerful because of their magic or if the males have the “true” power through their wit, bravery and prowess. I’m still of course working on this idea and I’m still trying to find appropriate research but I really like the topic! Suggestions for research anyone?
So as of now my main focus will be the whether The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a feminist novel and how gender roles are exhibited in it. Does this seem like a good idea to you guys? When I was first reading the book I was struck by how everyone kept saying Dorothy was saving them or that she was their reason for succeeding when really it was her merry band of men, to use our teachers phrase. While Dorothy does initially save the 3 males from their poor beginnings (the lion in my own opinion didn’t need saving, he really just was being ridiculous) but then they are the true heroes who come up with the solutions to save the day(s). The Scarecrow actually almost becomes a parent to Dorothy, finding food for her and covering her with dry leaves at night so she’ll stay warm. He is also the brains of the operation as seen when they had to cross the great ditch. He was the one who came up with the idea for the Lion to carry them all across. Thus his plan and the Lion’s brawn saved them. Later he again saved them by coming up with the idea to use a tall tree to cross an even greater ditch and this led the Tin Woodman to play his part in their survival. To me it seems as if Dorothy isn’t the hero of the story but just the lucky protagonist. She does the initial “saving” but when push comes to shove it is the male members of their troop that get them through the rough patches. Perhaps I am expecting too much of a young girl of an ambiguous age but I do not think she is the feminist hero that I was led to believe existed in this book.
The next question is why are the males so powerful in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Is it because that instead of using magic or sorcery or even magic hats to get the job done they use their own skills? Even the great and powerful Oz, who seems to be a crackpot, has a power in his charismatic swindling control over the Emerald City. But then you might ask aren’t the witches within this world just as powerful? After all, they all rule over kingdoms and exhibit at least some amount of power. However is this power through magic seen as on the same level as the males’ innate cleverness and skill? Yes the good witch in Munchkin land gives Dorothy a mark on her forehead that gives her some protection but I feel as if this could have been just a trained expectation if you will within Oz. Like they were told so many times that her kiss has power that they believed it. So maybe she is on the same trickster level as Oz.
As you all can see I still have a lot to work through, even in just my own basic thought process, but this is my general idea for my paper. What do you all think? Is there anything here worth discussing? Thanks!