Dr. Ethna Lay
The Wonderful Worlds of Utopia
Americans crave Oz because of it's utopian vision. On the surface, Oz appears to be a perfect utopia to Dorothy. When she first arrives, Oz is bright, colorful and full of magic and wonder while her home in Kansas is dull, lifeless and devoid of hope. In Kansas, it's as if the citizens are stuck with no real plans or goals for the future. In Oz, traveling down the elaborate, intertwined yellow brick road offers Dorothy a great chance for adventure and hope and magic. This also goes for Elphaba from the Broadway show, Wicked. Bot of their desire is to go home. The end of the yellow brick road and the Wizard offers a chance for both of their prayers to be answered.
Dorothy's adventures along the yellow brick road prove to be completely different than her expectations when she finds herself in many difficult and dangerous situations. The road, as she meets new companions and runs into the Wicked Witch of the West, slowly becomes darker. While far more interesting and more full of life than Kansas, Dorothy's adventure through Oz shows her how much she longs for the security and familiarness of her home in Kansas. It is only after she sees the true corrupt nature of Oz that she realizes what Kansas really means to her. The situation of Elphaba in Wicked is ironically similar to Dorothy's in Oz. Elphaba travels to Emerald City in search of a utopia of her own. However, when she reaches the city, she finds that it is corrupt and not what she thought it would be.
America started off with the same utopian vision as the writers of The Wizard of Oz and Wicked imagined their utopia. In the beginning, the land of Oz held opportunity, hope, and dreams. It's not until one travels to Emerald City and sees that things are not manifested the way that they had previously imagined. There is a sense of false hope and deceit waiting in the dark, which is a common theme in fairy tales to begin with. Behind The Wizard of Oz is deception, lies and corruption. Gregory Maguire's Wicked evinces similar concerns about lies and deception. The Broadway production of the novel likewise shows an alternate view of a different type of utopia. In the original Wizard of Oz production, Dorothy's utopia is achieving her goal by finally coming home. In Wicked, however, the point of view is altered, and you see the "wicked" witch's version of the story, where her final reached utopia is leaving the past behind her and starting a new life with her one true love. Dorothy's utopia is almost exactly the same; she leaves the past behind and goes home to the one true family that she loves. The yellow brick road is one of the many symbols for the character's long and trecherous journey home. According to Jack Zipes, Oz is a symbol of the longing for a better life. I agree with this idea, for Oz is about finding out who you really are through extreme and unexpected circumstances. Dorothy did not expect to arrive in the land of Oz; nothing could have prompted her for the experience she was about to have. Kansas prepped her for nothing in any sort of world besides the black and white farm home she knew. Through her journey, she came to realize that she can indeed follow her dreams and have a better life. With the yellow brick road being a "metaphor for personal growth (Zipes 220)," Dorothy follows the path to discover that Oz is a place that helps her grow up and mature rather than the gray and bland Kansas. The way Dorothy sought to find a better life was more unique than other stories. She found friendship in the Scarecrow, Lion and Tinman, where she helped them get courage, a heart, and some brains. "The three figures Dorothy encounters represent aspects of her own inner world (230)" In other words, by helping her three friends, she helped herself get brains, a heart and courage. Without her experience at Oz, she never would have gained these things to bring back with her to Kansas...