Reverse Gender Roles In The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

1638 words - 7 pages

The role gender holds in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is not one many were familiar with at the time it was written. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reverses the accepted gender roles of its time, women taking control, even helping men in times of need. This idea is depicted throughout the entire novel, affecting almost every character introduced. This novel essentially questions and challenges the accepted beliefs on the roles of gender in the society at that time, showing how things would be if roles were different. With this, through a description of the characters, you can see who was empowered by Baum and who held an inferior role.
In this novel, the women and the men have very different roles. Baum created strong and powerful women, but needy and inferior men. The main women in the novel, such as Dorothy, the Stork, the Queen of Mice and Glinda, all handled things on their own as well as did things to help the men in the novel. On the other hand, the main men in the novel, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Lion and the Wizard, all were unable to do things completely on their own and needed help, usually from the women. This clearly shows that the empowered characters in the novel were the main women characters.
Dorothy, the main character, was highly empowered by Baum. Just the idea that a woman was the main role in a novel was shocking enough, but the way she acted throughout pulled it all together. When Dorothy ended up in Oz after the cyclone she knew she had to get back home to her Aunt and Uncle. Even though she was scared at first to make the journey to the Wizard, to find out how to get home, she took initiative to do it on her own, “”Come along, Toto” she said. “We will go to the Emerald City and ask the Great Oz how to get back to Kansas again”” (Baum 16). This is the first sign of her leadership.
Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in the beginning of her journey. The first case in which she helps him is when she takes him off the pole. “If you will please take away the pole I shall be greatly obliged to you” (Baum 19). The Scarecrow shows he needs Dorothy, rather than the usual reversed gender role. When they get to talking, she learns he wants a brain so people will not see him as a fool. Dorothy offers her help again; “If you will come with me I’ll ask Oz to do all he can for you” (Baum 20). Another sign of reverse gender roles, Dorothy offering to help the Scarecrow, not telling him how he can do it for himself.
Dorothy then meets the Tin Woodman who is stuck in his rust. Dorothy takes the initiative to help him, and gets him out of the position he had been in for some time. “”I might have stood there always if you had not come along,” he said; “so you have certainly saved my life”” (Baum 29). Dorothy again holds the superior role over a male character, which couldn’t have been saved without her. She also advises him that the Wizard could help him get a heart. “It would be as easy as to give the Scarecrow brains” (Baum 29). Dorothy...

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