Title page of a 1900 edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (often referred to as The Wizard of Oz, a title under which several more recent editions have been published) is a children's fantasy novel of twenty-four chapters by the American author L. Frank Baum. It was first published in 1900.

The main character in the story is a girl named Dorothy.[1] A cyclone carries her away from her Kansas home to the magical Land of Oz, a country of talking animals, strange and terrifying creatures and witches both good and bad. Dorothy is told that her only hope of returning home is to travel to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz for help. On her journey, she meets and befriends the characters of the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. They join her on her journey to see the Wizard, in the hope of receiving a brain, a heart and courage respectively. The Wizard agrees to help the four friends but only on the condition that they complete the seemingly impossible task of killing the Wicked Witch of the West. After they return from having destroyed the Witch, the Wizard of Oz is revealed to be an ordinary man, an American like Dorothy, who has no magical powers. The Wizard builds a hot air balloon, intending to take Dorothy home in it, but accidentally leaves without her. Dorothy is told to seek help from Glinda the Good Witch of the South. Glinda reveals that Dorothy possessed the power to return home almost from the moment that she arrived in Oz, although she would not have helped her three friends to discover their intelligence, emotions and courage if she had done so.

Baum went on to write sixteen more Oz books between 1904 and his death in 1919, although The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the only one which is still well known and widely read today.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been adapted numerous times for other media, the best known adaptation remains the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz which stars Judy Garland as Dorothy.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 014

Dorothy and Toto are carried away by the cyclone. 1900 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.

Dorothy lives on a farm on the Kansas prairie with her Uncle Henry, Aunt Em and little black dog Toto. From the front door of her house, Dorothy can see no other houses or trees, just the wide, flat prairie. The outside of her small house has been turned gray by the sun and the rain. The prairie and the grass on it also look gray. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em both have to work hard and have no time to enjoy themselves, which has caused them to become gray too. Dorothy's love of Toto is the only thing that has prevented her from becoming gray also.

One day, the sky is grayer than usual, a sign that a cyclone is coming. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are both able to take shelter in the cellar beneath the house but the house with Dorothy and Toto inside it is acrried away by the strong wind to Munchkin County in the distant Land of Oz.

The house lands directly on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, who had been the ruler of Munchin County, crushing her to death. Dorothy is greeted by the Munchkins, who are happy to be rid of their wicked ruler, and by a kindly old woman who says that she is the Good Witch of the North. When Dorothy asks how she can get back home to Kansas, she is advised to see the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, which can be reached by following the road of yellow bricks.[2] Dorothy is given the Silver Shoes that had belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East, which she wears during the rest of her time in Oz. The Good Witch of the North kisses Dorothy on the forehead, thus giving her magical protection on her journey to the Emerlad City.

On the way, Dorothy frees the Scarecrow, who had grown bored of spending all day in the same place and being constantly pecked by crows, by taking him down from his pole. The Scarecrow laments that his head is filled with straw and that he does not have a brain. He joins Dorothy on her journey, in the hope that he will receive a brain from the Wizard.

Shortly afterwards, Dorothy comes across the Tin Woodman,[3] who is unable to move because his joints have become rusted, and saves him by fetching an oil can from his cottage. The Tin Man reveals that he had once been a human woodcutter. He accidentally cut off his left leg and got the tinsmith to make a replacement one out tin. The Wicked Witch of the East then put a spell on his ax, causing him to cut off his other limbs and his head and finally to split his body in two. However, each time, the tinsmith made a replacement body part. The Tin Woodman does not regret the fact that he no longer has a brain but is sorry that he has lost his heart. He joins Dorothy and the Scarecrow in the hope that the Wizard can give him a new one.

Cowardly lion

Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man encounter the Cowardly Lion. 1900 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.

When a lion tries to attack Toto the dog, Dorothy hits him on the nose and accuses him of being a coward. The lion shamefully admits that he is a coward and joins the others on their journey, hoping that the Wizard will give him courage.

The travelers face many dangers on their journey. The road is often narrow and difficult to follow. They are attacked by Kalidahs, animals with the heads of tigers and the bodies of bears, and Dorothy narrowly avoids being put to sleep forever by a field of Deadly Poppies.

On arrival at the Emerald City, the travelers are told to wear glasses with green lenses during their stay. The entire city appears to be green. The friends are permitted to see the Wizard, becoming the first visitors who are ever allowed to do so. Each one sees him individually and each one sees something different. Dorothy sees a giant head, the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman, the Tin Man sees a gigantic rhinoceros-like monster and the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. However, they are all given the same message, that their wishes will be granted if they kill the Wicked Witch of the West, the ruler of Winkie County.

The Wicked Witch of the West tries to prevent the travelers from reaching her. She sends forty wolves to attack them but the Tin Woodman kills them all. She sends forty crows to attack them but the Scarecrow kills all of them. She sends a swarm of bees to sting them to death but the bees try in vain to sting the Tin Man while the others hide under the Scarecrow's extra straw. The Witch sends Winkie soldiers to attack them but they are frightened away by the Cowardly Lion. Eventually, the Witch uses the magical Golden Cap to summon the Winged Monkeys. Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion are captured by the Monkeys, the Tin Man is dropped onto sharp rocks and the Scarecrow is torn to pieces.

Wicked Witch2

Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch of the West with a bucket of water. 1900 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.

The Witch plans to starve the Lion into submission so that she can use him as a beast of burden, a plan which fails beacause Dorothy sneaks food to him at night. Dorothy is put to work in the Witch's house. The Witch wants to take Dorothy's Silver Shoes. She eventually manages to get hold of one by making Dorothy trip over an invisible iron bar. Dorothy is so angered by the Witch's trick that she throws a bucket of water at her. To Dorothy's surprise, the water causes the Witch to melt away. The Winkies are glad to be free of their wicked ruler. They help to put the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman back together and ask the Tin Woodman to be their new ruler. He agrees to rule over them after he has helped Dorothy to return home. Dorothy uses the Golden Cap to summon the Winged Monkeys, who carry the girl and her friends back to the Emerald City.

The four friends are granted another audience with the Wizard. They hear his voice but cannot see him, the voice telling them that he is invisible. When the Wizard hears that the Wicked Witch of the West has been killed, he tries to persuade the friends to come back the next day. Toto knocks over a screen in the corner of the room, revealing the Wizard's true form. The Wizard is a man from Omaha who came to Oz several years earlier in a hot-air balloon. He has no magical abilities, the other forms of the Wizard that the friends had seen were merely puppets, and the Emerald City is not really green, it just appears so because of the glasses that the Wizard makes everybody wear. However, the Wizard tries to grant the four friends' wishes.

The Scarecow's head is filled with bran, pins and needles, which poke out to indicate that he is sharp. The Tin Man is given a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, the Cowardly Lion is given a potion to drink which he is told will give him courage. The Wizard names the Scarecrow as the new ruler of the Emerald City and constructs a new balloon, in which he plans to return to the United States with Dorothy. However, before the ballooon leaves, Dorothy has to retrieve Toto when he chases after a kitten in the crowd. When she gets back to the balloon, the ropes have broken and the Wizard leaves without her.

Dorothy Gale with silver shoes

Dorothy and the Silver Shoes. 1900 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.

Dorothy asks the Winged Monkeys to carry her home but they tell her that they cannot cross the great desert and leave the Land of Oz. She is advised to see Glinda the Good Witch of the South. Dorothy and her friends travel to the Quadling County in the south. On the way, they have to evade the Fighting Trees and the dangerous Hammer-Heads and tread carefully through the China Country. Some animals in a forest ask the Cowardly Lion to rid them of a giant spider which is terrorizing them. The Lion kills the enormous spider and the animals declare him their king. The Lion agrees to return to be the ruler of the forest, after Dorothy has been sent home.

Glinda, a beautiful young woman, tells Dorothy that her Silver Shoes have the power to send her home if she clicks the heels together three times. Dorothy regrets that she could have returned home as soon as she arrived in Oz but her friends remind her that they would not have received their brain, heart and courage if she had done so. Glinda says that she will summon the Winged Monkeys to take the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion to their respective kingdoms of the Emerald City, Winkie County and the forest. Dorothy says good-bye to her friends. She and Toto are returned to Kansas and reunited with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been adapted numerous times for the theater, film, television and comic books.

The novel was adapted as a musical in 1902. The musical was produced by L. Frank Baum and his illustrator William Wallace Denslow and Baum was credited as having written it. The show was aimed more at an adult audience with numerous political references in the script. It also contained several songs that were unrelated to the plot.

Silent film versions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were released in 1910, 1914 and 1925. The 1914 version, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, was a very loose adaptation which was itself later adapted by Baum as another book in his Oz series, The Scarecrow of Oz. The 1925 version is most notable for featuring a young Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man. An eight-minute animated version was released in 1933.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was adapted as the musical The Wiz in 1974, which moved to Broadway in 1975. The musical was itself adapted as a 1978 movie, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy,Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as the Wizard.

Wizard of oz movie poster

Poster for the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

The best known adaptation remains the 1939 MGM movie starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West and Frank Morgan as the Wizard.

Although the 1939 movie is one of the most faithful adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a number of differences exist between the film and the novel. Due to time restrictions, a lot of material from the novel had to be cut from the movie script. The events which take place when the four friends travel to the home of Glinda the Good Witch of the South are noticeably absent. The novel's elderly Good Witch of the North and young Good Witch of the South are combined into a single Glinda the Good Witch in the movie and the role of the Wicked Witch of the West, who only appears in one chapter of the novel, is greatly expanded in the film version.

A major difference between the movie and the novel is that, in the movie, the Oz sequence is revealed to have just been Dorothy's dream, an idea which the film makers possibly borrowed from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the novel and its sequels, Oz is a real country, a country which Aunt Em and Uncle Henry move to in later books. Making Dorothy's trip to Oz a dream also permitted the film makers to give the characters of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wizard equivalents in Kansas, played by the same actors. There is no trace of that idea in the novel, in which Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are the only charcaters, apart from Dorothy and Toto, who are introduced in Kansas.

A notable visual difference is that Dorothy's Silver Shoes from the novel are changed to Ruby Slippers in the movie. This was done in order to make the shoes look more impressive in Technicolor.

See also


  1. Dorothy has no surname in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She was named Dorothy Gale in the 1902 stage musical The Wizard of Oz, a name which was subsequently used in later Oz books.
  2. Although the road to the Emerlad City is described as being paved with yellow bricks in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it is never explicitly referred to as "the Yellow Brick Road" in the novel. The now familiar name first appeared in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
  3. The Tin Woodman does not have a name in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He was named Niccolo Chopper in the 1902 stage musical The Wizard of Oz. The name Nick Chopper was used in subsequent Oz books.

External links

God speaks in His creation
Symbolism Wiki has a related article about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.