Dorothy's Heroic Journey In The Wizard Of Oz

1378 words - 6 pages

Frank Baums, The Wizard of Oz is arguably one of the most popular films made. Even though it was released in 1939, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, the film continues to entertain audiences and speak to them in a personal way. The question that comes to the mind when analyzing this film is: What is it about this film that gives it such timelessness? When reflecting on the film’s timeless qualities, it seems clear the plot is one of the things that enable it to maintain its relevance. Primarily, the plot of The Wizard of Oz is timeless because it is such an excellent example of the heroic journey, both in literally and cinematically. This journey of self-awareness is a metaphor for growth, which is something we all search to discover at some time in our lives.
To fully appreciate the significance of the plot one must fully understand the heroic journey. Joseph Campbell identified the stages of the heroic journey and explains how the movie adheres meticulously to these steps. For example, the first stage of the hero’s journey is the ordinary world (Campbell). At the beginning, the structure dictates that the author should portray the protagonist in their ordinary world, surrounded by ordinary things and doing ordinary tasks so that the author might introduce the reasons that the hero needs the journey in order to develop his or her character or improve his or her life (Vogler 35). The point of this portrayal is to show the audience what the protagonist’s life is currently like and to show what areas of his or her life are conflicted or incomplete. When the call to adventure occurs, the protagonist is swept away into another world, one that is full of adventure, danger, and opportunities to learn what needs to be learned. Through this process, the protagonist has the chance to someday live in a new ordinary world, one that is improved in the ways that it was once lacking (Campbell 42).
In The Wizard of Oz, the ordinary world and the beginning of the adventure are presented with stunning visual effects. Dorothy, the protagonist, is shown struggling in her ordinary world. She is confronted by the mean neighbor Miss Gulch who wants to take away Dorothy’s dog Toto and give him to the animal control authorities because of Toto’s bad behavior. Dorothy reacts childishly with a temper tantrum, begging her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em not to let Miss Gulch have her way. She confronts Miss Gulch when she tries to take Toto, saying, “You wicked old witch! Uncle Henry, Auntie Em, don't let 'em take Toto! Don't let her take him -- please!” (The Wizard of Oz). In a fit of temper, Dorothy decides to run away because she thinks that it is the only way she can protect her dog from Miss Gulch. The plot picks up the story of Dorothy’s life at a rather bleak point. Dorothy is portrayed as powerless and directionless and she does not appreciate the gifts she has in her family and life. Her character flaws and areas of growth are clear from such behavior. She...

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