Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke)

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Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke)

Thank Goodness for Glinda

Funny thing about Glinda: she's the only character in Oz who doesn't have an eerie lookalike back in Kansas. Not that she could traipse around the prairie in that ballroom gown she wears, but even so, you'd think she show up as a nice teacher or a crusading dog lover or something.

As it turns out, no. Glinda is only Glinda, and that may say something about her part in all of this. It certainly emphasizes her magic-ness more than the others, since she doesn't have to live down to the black-and-white normal world. Add to that the fact that she travels around in an enchanted soap bubble, and you really get her "not from around here" vibe.

That's important to her role as Dorothy's mentor. She's from the outside world, the place Dorothy has never been to, and as such she knows all about what Dorothy's getting herself into. But while most of Oz is surprising and pretty weird, Glinda just gives out a friendly grownup vibe, and while she definitely represents a new and untested world, she's still more than happy to give a girl a hand when first stepping into it.

She also knows that she can't just hand Dorothy everything she needs. If you think about it, she could have just told Dorothy how the ruby slippers worked at the beginning. But then, of course, there would be no movie… and as Glinda herself says,

GLINDA: She had to find it out for herself.

So she acts as a guide: pointing the way, giving good advice and occasionally stepping in when the kid can't quite make it herself, but letting Dorothy find her own way as much as she can. Just like a good mentor, or mother, does. Maybe she's the idealized version of Dorothy's missing mother—beautiful, kind, all-knowing, helpful, and protective, but letting Dorothy figure things out for herself.

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