Study Guide

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Good vs. Evil

By L. Frank Baum

Good vs. Evil

"Oh, gracious!" cried Dorothy; "are you a real witch?"

"Yes, indeed;" answered the little woman. "But I am a good witch, and the people love me." (2.21-2.22)

In Oz, there are good witches and there are bad witches. Got it? Good.

"I never killed anything, willingly," she sobbed; "and even if I wanted to, how could I kill the Wicked Witch?" (11.60)

Dorothy killed a wicked witch, sure. But she didn't do it on purpose. That distinction is important to her. Does it matter to you?

"We dare not harm this little girl," he said to them, "for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of Evil." (12.55)

Were you wondering whether good is better than evil? Well, wonder no longer. This Winged Monkey has it all figured out. But are the Winged Monkeys good? Or are they evil? How do you know?

The Witch did not bleed where she was bitten, for she was so wicked that the blood in her had dried up many years before. (12.70)

The more evil someone in Oz is, the less human they become over time. Recall that the Wicked Witch of the East dried up in the sun mere moments after her death.

"You are a wicked creature!" cried Dorothy. "You have no right to take my shoe from me."

"I shall keep it, just the same," said the Witch, laughing at her. (12.77-12.78)

Soon after this, Dorothy tosses a bucket of water at the witch, who dies. The lesson? You can enslave Dorothy, but you best not touch her shoes. That's taking things one step too far. Oh, and also that good always triumphs over evil.

"Didn't you know this would be the end of me?" asked the Witch, in a wailing, despairing voice.

"Of course not," answered Dorothy; "how should I?" (12.83-12.84)

Though Dorothy kills a second wicked witch, her innocence remains intact. After all, it's not like she meant to. She was just upset the witch had stolen one of her shoes. Sheesh.

"There lived here then, away at the North, a beautiful princess, who was also a powerful sorceress. All her magic was used to help the people, and she was never known to hurt anyone who was good." (14.24)

What's interesting about this story is that the good sorceress is about to enslave an entire race of Winged Monkeys because of a prank. Maybe good isn't such a stable concept after all.

"Oh, no, my dear; I'm really a very good man; but I'm a very bad Wizard, I must admit." (15.76)

Do you agree with the wizard's assessment of himself? How can he be a good man and a bad wizard at the same time?

"She is kind to everyone. I have heard that Glinda is a beautiful woman, who knows how to keep young in spite of the many years she has lived." (18.34)

It's perhaps worth noting that the Good Witch of the South is young and beautiful. The Wicked Witch of the West, on the other hand, was bloodless and shriveled. How about the other two witches? Do you remember how they were described?

"Then, having used up the powers of the Golden Cap, I shall give it to the King of the Monkeys, that he and his band may therefore be free for evermore." (23.25)

Part of being good in Oz is setting people free, as Dorothy did with the Winkies and as the Glinda plans to do with the monkeys. The Wicked Witches of the West and East, on the other hand, enslaved people.