Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz Exploration

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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.

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