Wizard of Oz characters first came to life in L. Frank Baum’s 1900
fantasy book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. More than a hundred years
later they still have the power to captivate and enchant. Read a
countdown of the seven most memorable characters from the land
somewhere over the rainbow:
7. The Good Witch of the North
all witches are nasty. In Baum’s book, the Good Witch of the North
(portrayed by Billie Burke in the famous 1939 film The Wizard of Oz by
director Victor Fleming) is a
kind old lady who has ruled over the northern Gilikin Country since she
rescued its people from her wicked counterpart. She welcomes Dorothy to
Oz, tells her of the wizard, and set her on her way along the yellow
brick road to the Emerald City.
Although she doesn’t appear again in the story, a kiss she gives
Dorothy on the forehead proves to be a protective charm. In later
versions of the story, including the 1939 movie, the
Good Witch of the North is often combined with the Good Witch of the
Glinda. She is young and beautiful, and has a much more prominent role.
6. The Munchkins
Wizard of Oz Munchkins live in Munchkin Country in the Land of the
East. In Baum’s book, they are about the same height as Dorothy and
wear tall hats with bells on the brim that tinkle as they walk.
They are timid folk, enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the East who has
ruled over them for many years, and are too frightened at first to
speak to Dorothy, who they view as a powerful sorceress. In popular
culture, the Munchkins are often portrayed as colorful dwarf-like
creatures with jolly temperaments. 5. The Cowardly Lion
Toto, many of the animals that Dorothy encounters in Oz can speak, and
the Wizard of Oz Lion (played by Bert Lahr) is no exception. When
Dorothy first meets him, he
tries to scare her and bite Toto. She accuses him of being a
coward, at which point he backs down and admits that she’s right.
The lion is deeply ashamed of his fears and feels like a failure for
not living up to the expectation of all lions to be the kings of
beasts. But on the way to the Emerald City, and later in the territory
of the Wicked Witch of
the West, he risks his life time and again to protect his friends. He
learns that true courage involves doing the right thing despite your
fears, not feeling no fear at all.
4. The Scarecrow
first meets the Wizard of
Oz Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), he’s hanging on a
pole in the Munchkin Country wishing
above all else that he had a brain. Dorothy helps thim down from the
pole and then suggests he
accompany her to Oz so he can ask the wizard for a brain.
Scarecrow’s claim to be brainless, he proves himself to be wise and
insightful, and when the Wizard of Oz leaves to return to earth, he
takes over as the ruler of the Emerald City. The Scarecrow is usually
depicted wearing a long-sleeved shirt, a
pair of brown trousers and a soft pointed hat, with straw sticking out
from underneath his clothes.
3. The Tin Man
“If I only had a
heart!” This is the lament of the Wizard of Oz Tin Man (Jack Haley) in
the famous 1939
movie, directed by Victor Fleming.
The Tin Man, called the Tin Woodman in Baum’s book, was originally a
woodsman called Nick Chopper. But after the Wicked Witch of the East
put a spell on him, he began losing his limbs and replacing them with
tin replicas, until eventually there was nothing else left of him.
There's an empty
space where the Tin Man's heart used to
be, and so he considers himself incapable of love. However, just as in
the case of the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, his actions
contradict his assessment of his own failings and he proves to be the
most tender of Dorothy’s three companions. 2. The Wicked Witch of the West
This is the
wickedest of all the Wizard of Oz characters. She is the main threat to
Dorothy and to all good folk of Oz.
The Wicked Witch of the East, said to be her sister in many on-screen
and on-stage adaptations (though not in the book), is a foe of equal
wickedness who has kept the poor Munchkins enslaved for many years.
When Dorothy’s house falls out of the cyclone, it lands on her
and kills her, ridding Oz of this menace forever and leaving only one
wicked witch to contend with.
The Good Witch of the North removes the dead witch’s slippers (which
are silver and not ruby in the book, believe it or not!) and gives them
to Dorothy, who wears them on her journey to the Emerald City. But when
she gets there, the wizard tells her he will give her and her three new
friends what they want only if they go to the territory of the Wicked
Witch of the West, called Winkie Country, and kill the nasty fiend.
Dorothy and her friends agree and so enter the domain of the witch, who
pursues and finally captures them. When she sees the slippers on
Dorothy’s feet, she knows their power and is determined to have them.
After she uses magic to trip her up and seize one of the
slippers, Dorothy loses her temper and empties a bucket of water over
her, causing her to melt into nothingness.
In the book, the witch is an old woman with a protruding belly and
three pigtails. She wears an eye patch, has telescopic vision, is
afraid of the dark and carries an umbrella, no doubt to protect herself
from the rain water that is so lethal to her. However, she is commonly
depicted to resemble her portrayal by actress Margaret Hamilton in the 1939 movie,
in which she has
green skin and wears black clothes and a pointed hat.
1. Dorothy Gale
is an orphaned schoolgirl and the main character in The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz, as well as many of Baum’s other novels about Oz. Before a
cyclone whisks her off to the Land of Oz, she lives on a farm in Kansas
in the late 19th century with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and beloved
little dog, Toto.
Throughout her journey, Dorothy proves herself compassionate,
and morally sound. Forthright and determined, she is not afraid to
speak her mind. She frequently sticks up to those who try to bully and
attack her friends, including her greatest foe, the Wicked Witch of the
West. And when she finds out the wizard is a charlatan, she berates him
for his deception.
Dorothy’s main motivation, first in travelling to the Emerald City and
later in defeating the Wicket Witch of the West, is to get the help of
the wizard to return to Kansas. In a land faraway, she learns that you
don’t have to travel further than your front door to find your heart’s
desire because after all, there’s no place like home.
Dorothy is the most iconic of all the Oz characters. She is usually
portrayed in keeping with her appearance in the 1939 movie – as a young
girl with her hair in two pigtails, wearing a blue and white
checked dress and a pair of red, glittery shoes.