Glinda: Good Witch of the North, or Machiavellian Mastermind?

For various reasons, my mom and my little sister were involved in a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz over past few weeks, and last night Jennifer and I went down to see the show.  The production was so-so.  Production values were high, with good costumes and a reasonably tolerable orchestra, and most of the actors were pretty talented.  There were some choices made in the directing that I think were rather… Well, let’s say interesting.  There a few aspects that will stand out in my mind for a long time now ("Zombie Winkies!"), and overall it was a good time.

Enough about that, though.  What I really wanted to talk about was Glinda’s plan for world domination, and the real lesson that Dorothy learned by the end of the story.  So bear with me.

You know the story: Dorothy Gale’s house gets sucked up into a tornado, and gets tossed "over the rainbow" into a strange land.  Her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her.  Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, informs Dorothy that she is now targeted by the Wicked Witch of the West, and must go to the Wizard in the Emerald City for help.  Stuff happens; something about a scarecrow and a tin woodsman and a lion.  Oh, and some flying monkeys, which are my favorite.  At the very end, Glinda informs Dorothy that she had the power to go home all along, and that all she needed to do was, apparently, just want it badly enough.  Or something.

What I’ve never understood, though, is why Dorothy didn’t just slap Glinda upside the head at that point.  "What do you mean, all I had to do was want it bad enough?  What, did you think that the whole trip with that fucked up green witch wasn’t enough to convince me?  Bitch!"

I may be misinterpreting what it means to want to go home badly enough.  Based on the plot, I suppose that Dorothy must not just want to go home.  She must be willing to kill to do so.

Makes you think about Dorothy Gale’s future life in Kansas, doesn’t it?

This brings me to the role that Glinda had to play in all this.  I can’t help but think that Glinda must have been overjoyed to see the Kansas farmhouse land on top of the Wicked Witch of the East; she may, in fact, have orchestrated the tornado in the first place.  The house, after all, conveniently rid Oz of one of Glinda’s most powerful rivals.  Then she sneakily slips the ruby slippers, an obviously powerful magic item, on to Dorothy’s feet (without Dorothy’s consent, you may have observed long ago).  Thus begins a game of chess between Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West, where Glinda sends Dorothy on a trip to the Emerald City.  She knew that Dorothy couldn’t be convinced to kill the Wicket Witch of the West willingly; but Glinda probably knew the price that the Wizard would exact for his help: he’d want that broom, and Glinda knew as well as anyone that the only way to get that broom would be to kill her.

Did Glinda know of the Wizard’s true origins?  I don’t know.  But let’s assume she did know that the Wizard was really nothing more than a charlatan from Kansas.  It’s very possible, then, that she also knew that the only way the Wizard would help Dorothy get home would be in his own balloon, and leave with her.

And there you go!  Glinda has thus, through Dorothy, orchestrated the removal from Oz of two out of three of her rivals for control over the magic of Oz.  She wouldn’t care that the Wizard left the Scarecrow in charge when he left; she isn’t interested in political power, just magical control.

Of course, that leaves us with the presumed Good Witch of the South, never seen in the musical but whose existence is implied nonetheless.  Ridding Oz of her would be another major task for Glinda, who probably knows better than to count on the fortuitous arrival of another skybound Kansas farm girl.

So this is my conclusion, and it certainly makes for an interesting viewing of the musical.  It makes sense to me.  I learned long ago not to trust people who drift in and out of the scenery in giant soap bubbles.

I don’t know how Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon plays into all this.  Further research is obviously required.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.