Study Guide

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Disappointment

By L. Frank Baum

Disappointment

"Won't you go with me?" pleaded the girl, who had begun to look at the little old woman as her only friend.

"No, I cannot do that," she replied; "but I will give you my kiss, and no one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North." (2.58-59)

What's the old saying? When the Good Witch closes a door, she opens a window. Okay, that's not it, but still—it's a good thing Dorothy doesn't let her disappointment at having to start off alone stop her from making her journey.

It was fortunate the Tin Woodman had no heart at that moment, for it would have beat loud and fast from terror. Being only tin, the Woodman was not at all afraid, but he was much disappointed. (11.82)

The Tin Woodman was expecting to see a lovely lady, like the Scarecrow did when he visited the Wizard, but instead he gets a beast. He's disappointed because he thinks the lovely lady would have been more likely to grant him a heart, but what we find interesting is his complete lack of fear. Which emotion do you associate more closely with the heart: fear or disappointment? Why do you think the Tin Woodman feels one quite profoundly but not the other?

"We must go back to Oz, and claim his promise."

"Yes," said the Woodman, "at last I shall get my heart."

"And I shall get my brains," added the Scarecrow, joyfully.

"And I shall get my courage," said the Lion, thoughtfully.

"And I shall get back to Kansas," cried Dorothy, clapping her hands. (13.23-13.27)

Or…maybe not. Spoiler alert: a major disappointment is on the horizon.

Then Dorothy lost heart. She sat down on the grass and looked at her companions, and they sat down and looked at her, and Toto found that for the first time in his life he was too tired to chase a butterfly that flew past his head…. (14.8)

Oh, man. You know that when Toto's not chasing butterflies, things are baaaaaad. The gang is completely lost, somewhere between the Wicked Witch's castle and the Emerald City, and they're all losing hope. Disappointment is real, folks. So, how does Dorothy find the gumption to move forward at this point?

They thought the Great Wizard would send for them at once, but he did not. They had no word from him the next day, nor the next, nor the next. The waiting was tiresome and wearing…. (15.12)

Oh dear. If they think that's disappointing, they're not going to like what happens next! This is the first in a long line of letdowns, courtesy of the wizard.

"Who are you?"

"I am Oz, the Great and Terrible," said the little man, in a trembling voice, "but don't strike me—please don't!—and I'll do anything you want me to." (15.34-15.35)

Turns out the Great and Powerful Oz is just a frightened little old man. Dorothy and her friends are pretty bummed, to say the least. Have you ever discovered something that you thought was pretty spectacular was actually, well…not?

"But this is terrible," said the Tin Woodman; "how shall I ever get my heart?" (15.48)

Slowly, it dawns on the gang that this sad old man isn't going to be able to keep his promises. One by one, they despair. How would you respond to this sort of news?

Oz was holding out his hands to help her, when, crack! went the ropes, and the balloon rose up into the air without her. "Come back!" she screamed. "I want to go, too!" (17.27)

This one stings: Dorothy missed her ride home to Kansas. Along with disappointment, what other emotions do you think she was feeling? Are there other emotions that often seem to go along with disappointment?

Dorothy wept bitterly at the passing of her hope to get home to Kansas again; but when she thought it all over she was glad she had not gone up in a balloon. (18.1)

This is just one example of how quickly Dorothy is able to take a disappointing situation and re-assess it. What does this say about her?

Dorothy was almost ready to cry with disappointment. "I have wasted the charm of the Golden Cap to no purpose," she said, "for the Winged Monkeys cannot help me." (18.22)

Dorothy's mad at herself for having wasted her second wish. What's more difficult: to be disappointed in another person, or to be disappointed in yourself? Why?