And You, and You, and You, and You Were There

One of the most famous conceits of the 1939 MGM film of The Wizard of Oz is that some of the more prominent Oz characters have counterparts in people Dorothy knows in Kansas. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are the farmhands Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke, respectively.

I’ve heard that there was originally some suggestion that Dorothy and Hunk had a thing together, which is why she says when leaving Oz that she’ll miss the Scarecrow most of all. In the finished film, this line comes across as so out of place that it was the subject for a Family Guy bit.

I’m not sure what relevance the farmhands’ names have. I guess Hickory could refer to the fact that his Ozian counterpart is a woodcutter, but other than that, I really couldn’t say. The Wicked Witch of the West is the nasty old lady Almyra Gulch, and the Wizard of Oz (as well as several other inhabitants of the Emerald City) is the charlatan Professor Marvel. So where did this counterpart idea come from? It certainly wasn’t in the book. I suppose it could just relate to the dream idea, since I’ve heard that people in dreams really do often (perhaps even always) have the faces of ones you’ve met in real life. It seems more frequent in my own dreams that I recognize a person despite their having a totally different face, but there’s no reason both couldn’t be true. That said, I think there are other precedents for the counterpart idea as well. One likely source is the terrible 1925 slapstick comedy take on Wizard, directed by Larry Semon. While this one wasn’t a dream (even if it really should have been), it does have two farmhands who are in love with Dorothy landing in a pile of rags and one of metal, and hence becoming the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman.

One literary example that comes to mind of the counterpart idea is Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, which did take place in a dream, and which had Alice explicitly say at the end that the prim and proper Red Queen, the untidy and flighty White Queen, and possibly Humpty Dumpty as well were based on her cats. Then there’s the fact that, in Peter Pan, George Darling and Captain Hook were generally played by the same actor. Can anyone think of any other precedents for the concept? I don’t know that it appeared in anything L. Frank Baum wrote, although I do feel I should mention the end of Sky Island, in which Button-Bright tells Trot in a letter that his father has locked up the Magic Umbrella and put the key in his own pocket. This is also what the Boolooroo did earlier in the story, so is Baum hinting some kind of connection between the Boolooroo and Button-Bright’s father? Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it might be worth considering.

This entry was posted in Dreams, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Oz, Oz Authors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to And You, and You, and You, and You Were There

  1. halinabq says:

    >Can anyone think of any other precedents for the concept?
    Not a precedent, because it came along later, but this notion seems to bear some resemblance to the premise of The Matrix, in the sense that what seems to be the real world is actually a dream, and the counterparts of all the characters are actually asleep.

    The Australian Aborigines believe that the world was dreamed into existence, so that seems at least tangentially related also.

    And why is is that in dreams people can look totally different, but you know who they are anyway, as Nate mentioned? This would seem to negate the premise that the farmhands were in the dream because they looked like the characters in Oz, the converse as it were.

  2. Pingback: Oz Above, So Below | VoVatia

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