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Favorite Fairy Tale from Childhood

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When I was a child, each evening my mother would read from the novels of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. The usual bedtime routine was filled with anticipation of that imaginary world of wonder, adventure, and excitement in which I would soon be enthralled. The once yearly-televised motion picture based on the story, contributed greatly to my love for the fairy tale. The music and bright colors in the film confirmed all the different images I envisioned while listening intently to my mother read. She would make us a big batch of popcorn, and I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime in order to watch the entire movie. These memories of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz evoke feelings of joy that remind me of cherished moments spent with my mother. The story portrays an archetypal journey to a magical land of colorful characters that embark on a quest between good and evil. Some of the specific character archetypes depicted in the story include the main character, Dorothy, who is the hero, the Good Witch, Glinda, as her mentor, and the Wicked Witch as the Villain. Dorothy finds herself in a strange land, very different from her own.

She expresses her amazement as she first gazes upon the land exclaiming to her little dog, “I don’t think were in Kansas anymore, Toto!” She accidently makes enemies with the Wicked Witch of the West when her house lands on and kills the Wicked Witch’s sister. The Witch also wants to claim her sister’s magical slippers, which Glinda has rewarded to Dorothy. She makes friends with the Munchkins, who proclaim her a hero for freeing them from the bondage of the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy must now find her way back home to Kansas, and is directed by Glinda to seek out the all-knowing and powerful Wizard of Oz. Along her way, she assembles a group of companions whom all share in their need to seek out the Wizard’s help. The scarecrow thinks he needs brains, the Tin Man thinks he lacks heart, and the Lion wants some courage. They must conquer the Wicked Witch of the West in order for the Wizard to grant their wishes. They finally succeed in defeating the Wicked Witch, but find that the Wizard is a fraud. They soon realize they never needed the Wizard’s help.

They had always had the ability to grant their own wishes. Glinda explains this when she tells Dorothy, “You have had the power to return home all along.” The scarecrow asks Glinda, “Why didn’t you tell her this before?” Glinda replies, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to find it out on her own.” Throughout the journey, the characters all learn to overcome self-doubt and insecurities by conquering their fears and realizing their capabilities. Finding your way home, courage, intellect, and heart, are not things that can be given to you by anyone. They are not sought outwardly, they are found within oneself. Dorothy reveals her lesson learned when she tells Glinda, “…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” Many of the story’s characters in the movie version play dual roles that Dorothy interacts with, both in the Land of Oz and Kansas. She realizes this when she wakes up at home and says, “It must have been a dream. You were there, and you were there, and you, too,” while pointing to her friends at her bedside. The dual roles help to corroborate the moral meaning of Dorothy’s lesson. Dorothy confirms this one last time at the end of the story, as she joyfully exclaims, “There is no place like home!”

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