Self-Reliance and Feminism in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written in 1900 by Baum, L. Frank. The novel introduces women of a new era by giving them power and courage not known during their times. There is a clear difference in the roles of men and women in the novel. There is the creation of powerful women and inferior needy men with women such as Dorothy, the Queen of mice, the Stork and Glinda being capable of handling things personally through a clear show of self-reliance. This happens while the men in the novel such as the Lion, the Tin, the Wizard, the Woodman and the Scarecrow being incapable of handling things on their own and often seeking help from the women. Feminism in the shows through empowerment of women characters in the story and introducing a reversal in their roles through a display of self-reliance and courage.

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Reversed gender roles in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz come as a fresh introduction to the authorship period of the book. There is reversal in the accepted gender roles of the rime as the story introduces the possibility of women taking charge and controlling their lives to an extent of even helping men in times of need. This is an idea depicted throughout the story and affects all introduced characters. In the story, there is an essential questioning and challenging of acceptable gender roles and beliefs of the society at the time of its writing. It is the introduction of the aspects associated with feminism and the presentation of a picture showing how things would be by alternating gender roles. There is courage in the women as shown by the Queen of the field mice regardless of her size when she is referred to as Only a mouse! … why, I am a Queen- the Queen of all the field-mice! The presentation of Dorothy as a young girl learning through experiences positions her perfectly as an encouragement to young girls of her times. She depicts courage that surpasses girls her age and even women at the time of her creation.

The main character Dorothy, receives great empowerment from the author presented by the first action of her consideration as the protagonist in the novel. However, she pulled her act together and took her role seriously to the end making the choice exceptional for a woman in her era. Initially, she was afraid of making the journey to the wizard to find out means of getting back home after the fate that landed her in a foreign land. She later had to take a personal decision for getting back home convincing herself that it was the only way to have peace. Taking control by women was a new concept presented in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz presents new signs of feminism and placement of women in power. It shows that women are capable of taking charge of their lives and living beyond the assumed ordinary capacities constructed by the society. The society only needs to transform and accept their new positions by offering them a chance for excelling such as that provided by Baum.

There is a lot of emphasis on self-reliance presented within the story. The irony presented in the story regarding self-reliance is that there is always inner strength and power hidden within each person but fear remains as a stumbling block towards progress. This shows in the presentation of the cowardly lion and the scarecrow. They possess the powers they seek but lack tangible symbol of what they need. Often, there is the desire for more encouragement and that only comes from the women to the men in the story presenting a new realization of the power of women. There is a high magnitude of feminism in the story and Dorothy soon wants to live her desires rather than leaving them as dreams.

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While Dorothy struggles to succeed as a young woman in the male dominated society, the males have the inability to use their thought capabilities to move forward. The Tin Woodman desires to have a heart, which he feels he lacks, while the Scarecrow feels he has no brain. They feel that these are the aspects, which can make them complete humans and their lack makes them inferior and incapable of tackling important issues. However, the reality is that they possess these aspects and can be seen when the Tin Woodman cries in sympathy after killing a beetle accidentally. That would not be possible if he lacked a heart and he just needed to believe in himself. The Scarecrow can also talk eloquently and presents a great capacity of intellect by the capability of resolving problems presented by travelers. He is the one who helps Dorothy to save her dog and also devised a way of crossing the abyss, even how to escape from the minions of the witch. On the part of the lion who believed he is weak, he often roars fiercely at dangerous creatures and humans who block their path. This eventually leads him into becoming the king of all animals, then the beasts bowed down to the lion as their king.

Similar naivety can be seen in Dorothy who has adequate capacity of self-reliance amidst the fears of her times. However, her assertiveness lets noting to dissuade her. In her realization of what she wants, she forges ahead to achieve her dreams. When the witch takes her shoes, she becomes defensive and throws water on her and that melts the witch. She is on self-defense and does not wait for anyone to stand up for her as would have been the case of other females in her period. She did not know that the witch would melt but is driven by the need to defend herself and that even surprised the witch who did not believe that a little girl like Dorothy could kill her. She says, 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.

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Dorothy felt lonely by not being home. She missed Kansas and that is a sign that home is an important place to be. This gives the audience the notion that home is a good place to be. The adventures she took soon became useless and she desired to be home more than anywhere else. She wanted to feel whole at home rather than just lingering her thoughts in adventures. She just desired to go home and experience life as a firm girl once again, 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.

However, the feminist strength of Dorothy in the story is questionable since on her return home, she seems reformed and changed. Just as when she responds to the scarecrow, there is the perspective of her enjoyment of the adventures. In the perspective of Baum, the adventures were fun for Dorothy. Her return to America is that of a heroin in possession of unforgettable experiences and shaped personality. Even as a child, she had a new view of life that would be helpful in shaping her development into womanhood.

Dorothys feminist characterization in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exemplifies self-reliance and courage for achieving personal goals. The little girl has the desire of saving a foreign land from the hands of an evil witch. She does this by being an example to women of the 1900s, regardless of her age. There is much one can achieve in dreams compared to the capabilities of handling challenges in real life. The story gets women beyond the thought of simply staying at home and evading taking of adventures. Women are capable of showing independence, intelligence and courage like that of Dorothy, which act as an inspiration to the explorative capabilities of women. This story presents a journey of self-awareness and discovery, which metaphorically shows growth often sought and discovered at given points of life.

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