Study Guide

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Plot Analysis

By L. Frank Baum

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

An Unexpected Holiday

Dorothy takes an unplanned vacay when her house is swept up in a cyclone. Her destination is Oz, a beautiful land of many wonders, and from the moment Dorothy lays her eyes on it she wants to get the heck out. Since literally no one she meets has even heard of Kansas, Dorothy eases on down the road toward the Emerald City, hoping to get an audience with the all-powerful Wizard of Oz. He'll know the way, right? How come Oz doesn't have GPS, anyway?

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Road Trip!!!

She's off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. And Dorothy seems to have made a secret pact with herself to pick up every strange and sorry creature she meets along the way. Scarecrow with crippling insecurities? Check. Sociopathic tin man? Check. Wimpy Lion? Check. The four travelers become besties as they make their way to the Emerald City, where each has a favor to ask of Oz.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Dorothy Becomes an Assassin (Sort of)

Turns out the Wizard is a quid pro quo kind of guy. He's not going to be giving anyone anything until the Wicked Witch of the West is dead and gone. No one has the heart to follow through with these orders, exactly, but our friends leave the Emerald City to go see the witch anyway. It doesn't go so well until Dorothy throws a bucket of water at her in anger…and the witch melts into a puddle. That was almost too easy.

Falling Action

Oz is Exposed as a Posing Poser

Back in Oz, Dorothy and her friends can't seem to get a meeting with Mr. Great and Powerful. And when they finally do, they make a terrible discovery: he ain't all that. Sad to say, the Wizard of Oz is just a regular guy, and his big idea for getting Dorothy back to Kansas is a raggedy looking homemade hot-air balloon. Then he takes off in it without her, the jerk.

Resolution (Denouement)

Road Trip: The Sequel

Having missed her ride home in Oz's miserable hooptie of a balloon, Dorothy heads south to seek guidance from Glinda the Good Witch. (The gang tags along, of course.) After a harrowing journey, they finally arrive at Glinda's palace. The witch tells Dorothy that all she has to do to get home is use the silver shoes. So she does. Problem solved.