Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Quotes

  • The Home

    DOROTHY: Oh Hunk, you just won't listen, that's all.

    "This mean old lady wants to kill my dog, and I could use a little assist from the grown-ups here." Sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, no one listens to her: which means that home is feeling pretty un-homey these days.

    DOROTHY: Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away up on the chimney tops. That's where you'll find me.

    Dorothy expresses the traditional hero's longing to get away from her futzy old home, which pretty much sets the whole plot in motion. It's interesting to note that home is initially somewhere to escape from, then becomes somewhere she'll do anything to get back to—all without changing in any way, shape or form.

    DOROTHY: I had the measles once. She sat right by me every minute.

    This is actually the first time we hear that Aunt Em might be something other than a sour-faced old killjoy. It's also important to recognize that Dorothy took a picture of Em with her, meaning that her heart really belongs at home even when she feels forced to run away.

    PROFESSOR MARVEL: Poor little kid, I hope she gets home okay!

    It's good to know that Professor Marvel, and by extension the Wizard, sympathizes with Dorothy's quest. Marvel, of course, lives in a traveling wagon, so he may know more than anyone else what it means to not have a home.

    MAYOR OF MUNCHKIN CITY: I welcome you most regally…

    The Munchkins may be sweet, but they're no good in a crisis. They heap Dorothy with honors and accolades, only to run for the hills when Wicked Witch 2.0 shows up. Maybe this isn't home either. They certainly don't protect her in any tangible way, even though they seem to acknowledge her in a way that she feels Auntie Em doesn't. It's every girl's wish to be seen as special.

    DOROTHY: And it's funny, but I feel as if I'd known you all the time, but I couldn't have, could I?

    This is an interesting line because it links Dorothy's buddies back to the farmhands at home in Kansas. Could it mean that Dorothy always has a little bit of home with her as long as her friends are at her side?

    DOROTHY: I'm here in Oz, Auntie Em! I'm locked in the witch's castle, and I'm trying to get home to you, Auntie Em!

    A heart-wrenching moment here. When times are bleakest, Dorothy still looks towards home. It's not only the object of her quest; it's the thing that gives her strength to carry on. It's a bit of a paradox, but it also explains why she wants to get back there so badly: it gives her comfort, even when Wicked Witches are trying to settle her hash.

    WIZARD: I'm an old Kansas man myself.

    This is the first concrete link between Oz and home for Dorothy, and also a connection between the Wizard and Professor Marvel. And just like home itself, the Wizard seems grim and a little scary at first, but becomes kindly and welcoming once Dorothy's quest is nearing an end. It's comforting when he says he's from Kansas; home seems a little nearer now.

    DOROTHY: Auntie Em must have stopped wondering what happened to me by now. Oh, Scarecrow, what am I gonna do?

    Notice that Dorothy's thoughts of home aren't selfish here. She's worried about Aunt Em, and about making sure her family doesn't worry about her. That makes her journey an especially heroic one: she's not just looking out for number one.

    DOROTHY: Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here. And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and oh, Auntie Em there's no place like home!

    These are the last lines of the film, so you know how much home means to our plucky young heroine. She expresses her joy at arriving safe and sound and seeing all the people who love her. It's that sense of love and safety that home represents: the place that when you go there, they have to take you in. (Props to Robert Frost)

  • Courage

    DOROTHY: I'm the one who ought to be punished!

    Dorothy steps in to keep her dog safe here. That's some grade-A pet ownership, that is. But it also demonstrates early on how this little girl can find her courage. Threaten someone she loves, and she'll step up every time, even before she hits that Yellow Brick Road.

    DOROTHY: It really was no miracle/what happened was just this…

    Dorothy's properly humble—she didn't actually do anything to knock off the Witch of the East—but her confidence starts to percolate too. "Wow, I killed the witch without even trying!" That makes her at least a little aware of her own power and potential; realizing that she doesn't need to be as afraid of the bad things as she thinks.

    WITCH: I'll get you, my pretty! And your little dog too!

    Just so we're aware of the stakes: Dorothy has good reason to be afraid of this nasty witch. In addition, though, the "little dog" reference is really important. The Witch isn't just gunning for Dorothy: she's after Toto too. As we've already seen, Dorothy tends to forget how scared she is when her friends get threatened. You may want to rethink that last line, lady.

    GLINDA: Just follow the Yellow Brick Road…

    The Hero's Journey always takes some guts to start off. Dorothy doesn't know where that road is going to lead, or what kind of freaky-weird things are going to pop out at her along the way. (And believe us, they get plenty weird.)

    SCARECROW: I'd face a whole box of 'em in order to get some brains…

    The other two companions don't make such declarations of their bravery, but they're just as dedicated to the notion of courage as the Scarecrow. (Granted, the Lion takes some prodding.) It's also worth noting that the Scarecrow needs some motivation to face down that box of matches. Hey, we'd be scared of them too if we were made of straw. That's what makes quests so important: they force us to face our fears and overcome them to get what we want.

    SCARECROW: I'll see you get safely to the Wizard now, whether I get a brain or not. Stuff a mattress with me. Ha!

    On the face of things, the Scarecrow and Tin Man aren't the bravest guys in the world, but they definitely show their resolve when danger rears its head. And like Dorothy, they're not thinking of themselves. "Threaten our buddies? You just made a big mistake missy…"

    DOROTHY: You should be ashamed of yourself! Frightening him like that, when he came to you for help!

    We love this line, and not just because Dorothy is sticking up for her friends yet again. It shows that she already has the courage to face the Wizard. She forgets it when the Wizard bellows at her, but it was always there. He'd better be careful because if she comes back, that saber-rattling just ain't gonna work.

    COWARDLY LION: Alright, I'll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch. Guards or no guards, I'll tear 'em apart. There's just one thing I want you guys to do: talk me out of it.

    The screenwriters make a little joke here with the Lion not quite following through on his convictions, but it's a really important moment for him. He finally gets with the program and shows his bravery. And again, it's prompted by concern for a friend.

    WIZARD: Frightened? Child, you're talking to a man who's laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe. I was petrified.

    Good to know that grown-ups get scared too. In this case, it's the Wizard: the same guy who scared the pants off of everyone just a few minutes earlier. A good way of saying it's okay to be afraid; everyone's afraid sometimes.

    WIZARD: As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom.

    Sometimes running away from danger is just plain brilliant, the Wiz seems to be saying. There's no shame in that. This little children's film has a lot of wise stuff to say about what real courage is. Being afraid of fire if you're a scarecrow? That's just smart.

  • Lies and Deceit

    AUNTIE EM: I'm afraid poor Toto will have to go.

    Grown-ups lie sometimes. Dorothy is depending on Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to protect her dog, and they can't. It's one of the first big disappointments in life – realizing that your parents aren't perfect – and in this case, it prompts Dorothy to start her journey.

    PROFESSOR MARVEL: Professor Marvel never guesses. He knows!

    This is a lie being used for good. Notice that he hides her picture with Aunt Em after he looks at it: maybe a way to bring in the authorities if he can't convince her to go home? In any case, you can see this guy really looking out for the "poor little kid" and willing to use some razzle-dazzle to send her somewhere safe.

    GLINDA: Oh. Well, is that the witch?

    DOROTHY: Who, Toto? Toto's my dog!

    Dorothy never lies, of course, because she's a good girl. But it also shows that anyone can be fooled, even Glinda, who's really holding all the cards in Oz and who you wouldn't expect to be easily deceived. Goes to show you that anything is possible in Oz.

    WITCH: And now, my beauties, something with poison in it, I think. With poison in it, but attractive to the eye, and soothing to the smell.

    The Witch isn't afraid to do her own dirty work, as we have seen, but she clearly prefers something easier to manage than direct confrontation. It's a little cowardly, and despite all her cackling, it suggests that she might be more scared of Dorothy than she lets on. No wonder Glinda steps in to declare a mulligan on this one.

    COWARDLY LION: You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself.

    A common theme here is that threats turn out to be a lot less dangerous than we thought they were. Here it's a guy who we end up really feeling for, once we get past his blustering and see him for who he really is.

    WITCH: You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!

    This woman thoroughly terrorized our heroes for the better part of two hours, and all they needed to take her out was a bucket of water? Full marks for your poker face, oh Wicked Witch, but maybe you shouldn't go around scaring people if they can ice you that easily.

    WINKIE LEADER: She's... She's dead. You killed her.

    DOROTHY: I didn't mean to kill her. Really, I didn't. It's just that he was on fire.

    WINKIE LEADER: Hail to Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!

    It's a big thing in this movie: once the deceit is revealed—once we see the people Dorothy meets for who they really are—it comes as a big relief. The Winkies put on a big show because they're afraid the Witch will fricassee them, but when she's out of the picture, they're really kind of cool.

    WIZARD: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

    Seriously Dorothy, you need to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. HE'S RUNNING THE GIANT HEAD!!!

    WIZARD: Back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have.... But! They have one thing you haven't got! A diploma!

    The Wizard, a fraud himself, has some hilarious stuff to say about the false pretenses in the real world. Like those snooty intellectuals who really don't know much at all, even though they might have a fancy college degree. Nobody's really what they appear to be, he seems to be suggesting.

    WIZARD: I hereby decree that until what time, if any, that I return, the Scarecrow, by virtue of his highly superior brains, shall rule in my stead, assisted by the Tin Man, by virtue of his magnificent heart, and the Lion, by virtue of his courage.

    Here's another example of deceit being used for good. The Wizard isn't copping to the fact that he can't use any real magic. He's perpetrating a lie… and yet he's doing so in order to help the Scarecrow and his buddies take charge (which presumably benefits both them and the Emerald City). Not all lies are evil ones here, it seems, and even if it doesn't work out, the Wizard seems to be telling this one for selfless reasons. He's well aware of the placebo effect.

  • Coming of Age

    DOROTHY: If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I?

    A big part of the Coming of Age equation involves pushing against boundaries. That's why teenagers give grown-ups so many fits. Here, Dorothy's pointing out that she's really kind of had it with her drab little corner of the world, and ready to do a little growing up. She feels misunderstood and ignored.

    SCARECROW: You see, I can't even scare a crow. They come from miles around just to eat in my field and laugh in my face. Oh, I'm a failure because I haven't got a brain.

    This is kind of a childish complaint when you think of it, not because his concerns are illegitimate, but because he thinks his lack of brains are the problem. Trust us big guy: it isn't.

    SCARECROW: Come along, Dorothy. You don't want any of those apples.

    See what we mean? The Scarecrow has plenty of brains. He just didn't have anywhere to apply them in a practical context. Once he does, oh my does he bloom! Here, he cleverly finds a way to get Dorothy something to eat.

    DOROTHY: Why, you're nothing but a great big coward!

    An important step on the road to coming of age is seeing things for what they are, and realizing that they can't hurt you. Or, on a more practical level, speaking truth to power. "Hey I can see that you're lying to me and I'm gonna call you on it." It's a huge psychological milestone for a child when he or she sees that his or her parents are fallible humans.

    COWARDLY LION: Well, wouldn't you feel degraded to be seen in the company of a cowardly lion? I would.

    The Lion's being a bit of a little kid here, looking for excuses not to go on this trip. As is often the case, Dorothy gets to step up and be the adult: giving him "permission" to come with them to the Wizard. In a lot of ways, she's come of age already.

    OZ DOORMAN: The Wizard? But nobody can see the Great Oz! Nobody's ever seen the Great Oz! Even I've never seen him!

    DOROTHY: Well, then how do you know there is one?

    This is a logical question, and we bet you've heard parents deliver some variation of it to their children. The only difference is that Dorothy's asking the question and the adult is the one caught in it. Another sign that Oz is full of children in need of some growing up.

    DOROTHY: Oh, thank you so much! Now we can go back to the Wizard, and tell him the Wicked Witch is dead!

    This really is Dorothy's definitive coming-of-age moment. Witch = dead. Prize = well in hand. Wizard = minor technicality at this point. Give this gal a driver's license and a voting form. She's ready.

    DOROTHY: If you were really great and powerful, you'd keep your promises!

    First case of her new-found adulthood officially in action: she calls out the Wizard's duplicity and seems ready to stick by it. We've seen flashes of it before in the story, but this is the first time it really sticks (with a little help from Toto, of course).

    DOROTHY: Well, I, I think that it, it wasn't enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em, and it's that, if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?

    It's more than all right, Dorothy: it's right on the nose. Consider it your final exam before passing and getting your diploma.

    DOROTHY: I think I'm going to miss you most of all.

    Not every part of coming-of-age is empowerment and awesomeness. Dorothy's going to lose some things along the way… most notably her friends in Oz. Those losses are tough, but they're part of coming of age; a sad lesson that Dorothy mournfully accepts. We all have to leave behind our teddy bears and blankie when we grow up; that's one of the trade-offs.

  • Exploration

    DOROTHY: A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain...

    Just your basic Call to Adventure right here, suggesting that Dorothy may be chomping at the bit to get out there and see what there is to see, even if she needs a tornado to do it.

    DOROTHY: You are?! Oh, I beg your pardon! But I've never heard of a beautiful witch before.

    And now the reason why exploration is so important: it shakes up your sensibilities, shows you things you've never seen before and maybe helps you discard some of your old prejudices. Think witches don't wear ballroom gowns and cruise around in rainbow spheres? Think again!

    GLINDA: Just follow the Yellow Brick Road…

    Everyone loves the Yellow Brick Road—it's a darn catchy song after all—which serves as the map for Dorothy's exploration. But just like maps don't tell you everything, the Yellow Brick Road can't prepare her for all of the surprises waiting for her. All it can do is point in the general direction.

    DOROTHY: Now which way do we go?

    The road splits and Dorothy has to decide which direction to follow. From an exploration perspective, it's all good of course, but it might put a crimp in her plans if she chose the wrong path. It's a highly metaphorical statement about choices and responsibility and all their attendant risks.

    DOROTHY: We've been walking a long ways and I was hungry and...did you say something?

    Even a simple question of food becomes an opportunity to learn something new about this world. Oz has a way of making the mundane seem extraordinary, which Dorothy's never going to see unless she goes plucking some apples from talking trees every now and then.

    WITCH: You call that long?! Why, you've just begun!

    It is, in fact, a long road, and Dorothy has a lot more to explore before she gets back home. But does the Witch have to be such a… well, witch about it?

    SCARECROW: Of course I don't know, but I think it'll get darker before it gets lighter.

    Nice of the Scarecrow to give us some perspective here. Exploration is full of surprises, and not all of them are good ones. Still, you gotta take the good with the bad and if you're going to experience cool color-changing horses, you're going to have to deal with a few fireballs too.

    DOROTHY: There's the Emerald City. Oh, we're almost there at last, at last! It's beautiful, isn't it? Just like I knew it would be. He really must be a wonderful Wizard to live in a City like that!

    Well no, but we can't blame Dorothy for getting a little ahead of herself here. This is a good example of expectations vs. reality; you won't know which is which until you actually get in that throne room and take a look at the Wizard himself. From Dorothy's optimistic sense of awe at seeing the Emerald City, you can tell that she doesn't get out much.

    DOROTHY: What kind of a horse is that? I've never seen a horse like that before!

    The Horse of a Different Color is the perfect example of a seemingly throwaway detail about this world hiding something magical. It's worth an occasional Wicked Witch to see that, don't you think?

    SCARECROW: I've got a way to get us in there, and you're gonna lead us.

    When exploring, it's always good to have a plan. Even if it doesn't work, it can probably get you farther along than you'd get without it.

  • Family

    AUNTIE EM: Here, here, can't work on an empty stomach. Have some crullers.

    Auntie Em is certainly cold, but she's not heartless. This little snippet of dialogue early on, delivered just after she's chewed the farmhands out, is our first sign that she's really a decent sort… someone worth fighting through Wicked Witches to get home to. And crullers, yum.

    DOROTHY: I once had the measles. She sat by me the whole time.

    We never see the good things that Aunt Em does for Dorothy, and indeed Dorothy seems to have forgotten it amid the whole "we're going to let your dog get dragged off to die" unpleasantness. Her revelation here reminds her that Auntie Em is really a pretty good family member, and prompts her initial, aborted return home.

    PROFESSOR MARVEL: Poor little kid, I hope she gets home all right.

    The first sign that family isn't just blood relatives. Professor Marvel's worried about her and wants her to be safe, so much so that he shows up at the end of the film just to make sure she got home okay.

    WITCH: Who killed my sister? Who killed the Witch of the East?! Was it you?!

    The Witch of the West doesn't need a whole lot of motivation to be evil. The woman clearly loves her job, but what motive we do see is also bound up in family. A bit of the villain mirroring the hero, even if the shoes are all that really matter to her.

    DOROTHY: Oh, you're the best friends anybody ever had. And it's funny, but I feel as if I'd known you all the time, but I couldn't have, could I?

    Yet again, Dorothy links the people in Oz to their counterparts back home. This time, she stresses how important her Oz friends are to her, and by extension that they're her family too. Sweet kid, that Dorothy.

    DOROTHY: Auntie Em was so good to me. And I never appreciated it. Running away and hurting her feelings. Professor Marvel said she was sick. She may be dying and it's all my fault. I'll never forgive myself. Never, never, never.

    The kid may be a little hard on herself—she ran away to protect Toto, which Aunt Em couldn't do—but it emphasizes the importance of family in her motives. You say something like that, we believe you'll go through forty kinds of nightmare to get back to the person you're talking about.

    WIZARD: A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.

    The Wizard sums up the movie's feelings about family, and what represents a family, pretty darn nicely here. You're not in it for yourself. You're in it for the people who you care about. They care about you too, and if you take care of them, they're gonna have your back when the flying monkeys attack.

    COWARDLY LION: Stay with us, then, Dorothy. We all love you. We don't want you to go.

    This is the real heartbreaker in the film: she's got to choose between two sets of families. It suggests that her trip home comes with a price, and just as she wins back what she lost, she has to give up something to get it. It stinks, but unfortunately, life has a way of working like that sometimes.

    DOROTHY: I think I'm going to miss you most of all.

    If you're not weeping like a newborn babe at this point, check your pulse because you might be dead. There's no better definition of family than crying when you leave them, which means the Scarecrow (and the others) have officially made the grade.