Response Post #10: The Wizard of Oz

To me, what really grabbed my attention was the religious imagery in The Wizard of Oz; or, as I should say, the rather humanistic approach towards religion that the movie conveyed. First of all, the roles that each witch, The Wicked Witch and Glinda, played was really interesting in that at first glance, they do seem embody the traditional roles of good and evil. However, when given a closer look, the distinctions don’t seem to be as clear. The Wicked Witch of the West promises vengeance against Dorothy because she not only killed her sister (albeit by accident), but she also had the gall to put on her ruby slippers. The Wicked Witch of the West is, therefore, rightly angry at Dorothy; however, because of her antagonism towards Dorothy (the protagonist) and because of how she is initially portrayed by Glinda, she is seen as the villain. Glinda may seem to be the epitome of purity and good due to her looks, manners, and kindness towards Dorothy; however, it seems to me that Glinda is actually rather manipulative and takes advantage of Dorothy’s ignorance of the world she is in. Let us remember that she is the one who coaxed Dorothy into wearing the slippers, and encouraged her to go on the journey to see the Wizard even though she knew how Dorothy could have gotten home the entire time. In fact, I feel as if it is implied throughout the narrative that she planned on Dorothy being ordered to kill the Witch; if this is true, Glinda did not act from the kindness of her heart, but out of taking advantage of a political move that was now open.

 I say all this because in class, we had classified the Wicked Witch as the Satan-like figure in the movie and the Wizard as God, which I feel inclined to agree with. We also classified Glinda as an atheistic figure, and while I do see where that comes from, I would be more inclined to say that Glinda occupies the role of a social institution more than anything. She sends Dorothy on a journey to the Wizard with, it seems to me, her own agendas and intentions, and she is the one who places Dorothy in a rather antagonistic relationship with the Wicked Witch in the first place. Taking all this into account, I feel as though Glinda is a critique of the social institution of Christianity; placing a person in a place where they feel they must rely on a higher power to escape a plight, allowing one to acknowledge their humanity (the ruby shoes), but only as a burden and not as a positive and potentially helpful thing; immediately shaping that which seems different (and angry woman with green skin) to be dangerous. Dorothy is the protagonist of the story, the Wizard the goal, and the Witch the antagonist, but Glinda is the axis on which both the narration and series of events seems to turn.

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