The fact that The Wizard of Oz is often cited as an archetypal fairy tale is a mixed blessing for someone like me. On the one hand, it’s cool that one of my favorite books has become such a widely known part of popular culture. On the other, I think attempts to view the story through a symbolic lens, often but not always inspired by the movie more than the book, somewhat negate the world-building that Oz underwent in the other books. Of course, L. Frank Baum didn’t write Wonderful Wizard with a sequel in mind, but he did give rather matter-of-fact descriptions of Oz. Things changed when he expanded his fairyland into a series, particularly in terms of making the land more utopian and diverse, but even the first book doesn’t read like a generic once-upon-a-time fairy tale where the themes are more significant than the plot. That’s not to say that there aren’t important themes, but I’ve never seen them as the main point of the story. As such, when people make comparisons between other works and Oz, it can be annoying when they focus only on the original story, particularly on the respective quests of Dorothy and her companions.
That said, when reading about the Triforce in the Zelda games, I realized that two of its components, Wisdom and Courage, are exactly what the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion desired. The Tin Woodman didn’t want Power, though, but rather love and kindness. If anyone in the original book and its film version was seeking power, I guess it would be the Wizard of Oz himself. Not that hearts aren’t also something Link collects on his adventures.
I figured such comparisons must have been made in the past, and a Google search revealed that they were. There were other connections made between the two fantasy worlds as well.
This article compares Majora’s Mask to The Wizard of Oz (primarily the movie, although the book is mentioned), focusing on its similar themes of desire for home and companionship, and even pointing out that the arrangement of Termina is not unlike that of Oz.
The writer uses Gregory Maguire’s map for this purpose, but the points he makes mostly apply to more traditional maps of the marvelous land as well. Also, there was a spinoff of the Zelda series a few years back featuring Tingle, the flamboyant man-child obsessed with fairies. While only released in Japan and Europe, Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Color Changing Tingle’s Love Balloon Trip, and here the Oz references are at the forefront. Tingle’s companions on his journey are a brainless scarecrow, a heartless person made of metal, and a cowardly lion.
If we bring in comparisons from later books, it’s not too hard to see the connection between Zelda and Ozma, both beautiful princesses with formidable magic powers.
Picture by Pineapplelicious
Granted, Ozma is rarely the damsel in distress that Zelda often is, but she’s sometimes played that role, and some games have Zelda playing a more active part. Perhaps most notable in this respect is when she cross-dresses as Sheik, and anyone who has read The Marvelous Land of Oz knows Ozma spent time as a boy.
While I’m not sure it’s ever been the case in the games, the cartoon series presents Zelda’s father as kindly but absent-minded, not too different from how Pastoria is portrayed when Ruth Plumly Thompson brings him in as a character in Lost King.
Mind you, I don’t think we can pinpoint any one source for the ineffectual king with a strong daughter; it’s appeared in plenty of places. What I want to know, however, is whether the Triforce is stronger than the Magic Belt.