“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?”
It was not such an awful voice as she had expected to come from the big Head; so she took courage and answered,
“I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek. I have come to you for help.”
Greetings! Today we are back to looking at L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by summarizing and analyzing chapter eleven. A lot happens in this chapter so buckle up, because we are going to learn more about Dorothy’s quest and what she needs to fo to get home! Onward!
Chapter Eleven Summary: The Wonderful City of Oz.
Dorothy and Co. head to the great hall where the Wizard of Oz resides, and they are beckoned in by a green girl. There, they are told to spend the night, and that Dorothy would be taken first to see the wizard on the first morning, the Scarecrow the second, the Tin Woodman the third, and the Cowardly Lion on the fourth.
So, on the first morning, after a restful slumber, Dorothy was greeted by a soldier in advance of her meeting.
“Oh, he will see you,” said the soldier who had taken her message to the Wizard, “although he does not like to have people ask to see him. Indeed, at first he was angry, and said I should send you back where you came from. Then he asked me what you looked like, and when I mentioned your silver shoes he was very much interested. At last I told him about he mark upon your forehead, and he decided he would admit you to his presence.”
Afterward, Dorothy meets with the Wizard, who is a large, imposing head, and he tells her that if she desires a return to Kansas then she must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Likewise, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion all go meet the Wizard on their respective days and are told that they are to do the same thing: kill the last evil witch!
Regardless, though Dorothy does not know how to kill the Wicked Witch of the West and that the previous witch she killed was by accident, she agrees…and so does her party.
“There is only one thing we can do,” returned the Lion, “and that is to go to the land of the Winkies, seek out the Wicked Witch, and destroy her.”
However, each member declares that they will be unable to kill her due to their deficiencies, whether that be a lack of heart, courage, or a brain. Nevertheless, they prepare themselves for the long journey: the Tin Woodman sharpens his axe, the Scarecrow stuffs himself with straw, and Dorothy receives goods from a green girl who became fond of the companions during their time in the Emerald City.
(What is more, the Wizard presents himself in a different form to each companion: a little old lady to the Scarecrow, a dreadful beast to the Tin Woodman, and a ball of fire to the Cowardly Lion. We have yet to discover for what reason the Wizard has decided to manifest himself as different forms.)
As we learned in a previous chapter, not everything is as it seems in Oz. Sometimes the characters you think are strong are, in fact, not strong at all, and some characters, who are supposed to be kind and wise, are in fact deceitful and cruel.
The Wizard of Oz is no different.
And because his actions are counter to what we assumed they would be, I believe we can look at his intentions in two ways:
- The Wizard of Oz is deceitful and selfish. He desires Dorothy to go and assassinate the Wicked Witch of the West because he does not have the power to do so but has the authority and is in a position of power in Oz so he can compel Dorothy to kill the witch. In this light, the Wizard of Oz is a truly despicable person. If he cannot find use for the individual then he wants nothing to do with them because they can offer him nothing. As such, he is a sociopathic ruler and authoritarian who seeks power by eliminating his adversaries through Machiavellian means.
- The Wizard of Oz is a product of his environment. All of Oz to this point has been very transactional. If you do this for me, then I will do this for you. In so many ways, this is their currency. For example, a large bird helps save the Scarecrow early on in the story as long as Dorothy remembers to help it in the future; similarly, the Queen of the Field Mice is freed from torment by the Tin Woodman, but he requires nothing in return, so Dorothy asks her to free her friend the Cowardly Lion from his perpetual slumber. There is give and take in all of these interactions. Thus, by asking Dorothy to kill the witch, Oz will return her back to Kansas (and give her companions what they want, too).
I am not sure which is one is correct, but I think the first one seems more right at the moment, due to the soldier telling Dorothy that, “Indeed, at first he was angry, and said I should send you back where you came from.” In other words, the Wizard of Oz did not need to be bothered by a young girl seeking his wisdom because she could offer him nothing in return, so he wanted to send her away. To me, that’s a sign of a cruel and selfish leader.
Yet, we can only read ahead to find out his true intentions (if there are any).
Baum, L. Frank. “The Wizard of Oz the First Five Novels.” Fall River Press, 2014.