Study Guide

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Tone

By L. Frank Baum


Fanciful, Menacing, Safe

Two words: flying monkeys. On that image alone we could rest our case that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a fanciful book. But there are loads of other imaginative touches, including a talking scarecrow, a man made of tin, armless men with projectile heads…the list goes on. Oz is a place that's packed with strange sights, charming touches, and little delights.

But it's also a dangerous place. In the words of the Good Witch of the North, Oz is "sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible" (2.56). Creatures like the Kalidahs and the Wicked Witch of the West do everything in their power to see that Dorothy and her friends come to harm. The thing is, they don't come to harm. Threats abound, but they're always dealt with quickly. (Even the wicked witch, the biggest baddie in the book, is dead in the space of two chapters.) Though the characters encounter some scary stuff, these quick defeats help give us the sense they're safe as houses.

We learn early on that Dorothy is pretty much always going to be okay, when one of the Winged Monkeys says, "We dare not harm this little girl…for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of Evil" (12.55).

And in the end, each of the main characters gets his own happy ending. "I am glad I was of use to these good friends," Dorothy says in the penultimate chapter. "But now that each of them has what he most desired, and each is happy in having a kingdom to rule besides, I think I should like to get back to Kansas" (23.33). Which she does. And what could be safer than that? (Now that the Gales have a brand new farmhouse, and presumably a restored storm cellar.)