Study Guide

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Power

By L. Frank Baum


"I am a good witch, and the people love me. I am not as powerful as the wicked Witch who ruled here, or I should have set the people free myself." (2.22)

Interesting. The Good Witch of the North was somewhat powerless against the Wicked Witch of the East—the witch that Dorothy vanquished (albeit accidentally). Where does that place Dorothy in the power hierarchy? Does she deserve this position?

"Oz himself is the Great Wizard," answered the Witch, sinking her voice to a whisper. "He is more powerful than all the rest of us together. He lives in the City of Emeralds." (2.33)

Spoiler alert: Oz is actually one of the least powerful people in Oz. He just has people fooled, for now. Then again, the fact that he has a witch fooled, and that she thinks he is more powerful than all the witches together, well—that seems like some pretty serious power. Doesn't it?

"I have always thought myself very big and terrible; yet such small things as flowers came near to killing me, and such small animals as mice have saved my life. How strange it all is!" (10.4)

The Lion has a pretty good perspective here. Sometimes you can find great power in unexpected places. At the same time, the places you expect to find power don't necessarily have it.

"But you were strong enough to kill the wicked Witch of the East," said Oz.

"That just happened," returned Dorothy, simply; "I could not help it." (11.52-11.53)

Just because she doesn't know how to control her power doesn't mean she doesn't have it. Food for thought.

"When she knows you are in the Country of the Winkies she will find you, and make you all her slaves."

"Perhaps not," said the Scarecrow, "for we mean to destroy her." (12.5-12.6)

The power of the Wicked Witch of the West is legendary…and yet, the Scarecrow and the rest of the gang believe they may be able to defeat her. Is this belief in themselves enough? Is it a form of power?

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

Huh. Good always wins. Good to know. But wait—if this is true, why did the Good Witch of the North say she wasn't as powerful as the Wicked Witch of the East (2.22)? Are there different kinds of power at work here?

She looked down at Dorothy's feet, and seeing the Silver Shoes, began to tremble with fear, for she knew what a powerful charm belonged to them. (12.59)

The Wicked Witch of the West is afraid of Dorothy, but she recognizes that the girl isn't aware of her own power. This allows her to control Dorothy, even though she technically has less power.

Then she noticed Dorothy's Golden Cap, and said, "Why don't you use the charm of the Cap, and call the Winged Monkeys to you? […]

"I didn't know there was a charm," answered Dorothy in surprise. (14.14, 14.15)

We said it before, and now we'll say it again. Just because Dorothy doesn't know how to control her power doesn't mean she doesn't have it.

"One of my greatest fears was the Witches, for while I had no magical powers at all I soon found out that the Witches were really able to do wonderful things." (15.74)

The wizard is supposedly the most powerful man in all of Oz, but he's a pretender. Who holds the real power? Four women. Well, make that two, since the wicked witches are dead. But they think the wizard is the powerful one! Makes you wonder just how powerful your own thoughts may be, huh? If you believe someone else has power over you, turns out they do.

"Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," replied Glinda. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country." (23.28)

The power to return home isn't something that Dorothy is given. It's something she carried with her all along. But if you don't know you have power, do you really have it? How important is awareness in that equation?