Merry Monarchies

Hey, ever read that Ruth Plumly Thompson story about the loveable king with the childish personality? Yes, this is a theme Thompson returned to quite often, starting with the King of Supposyville and continuing with King Kojo of Oh-Go-Wan and King Ripitik X of Way-Up.

Not surprisingly, she also uses the theme to various degrees in her Oz books. It’s a key part of her many kingdoms that are, to use one of her favorite words, cozy. The king is an absolute monarch who presumably inherited the throne (although, to be fair, we generally don’t actually learn about their genealogy), but is very much a man of the people, quite friendly and informal. While there’s usually some sort of nobility, the common people seem to live comfortable lives. In the cases of Supposyville and Way-Up, the king has a friend and adviser who’s more intelligent, but not above participating in fun and games.

I think that, even before Thompson started writing Oz books, there was some influence from L. Frank Baum involved. His works feature a few childish adult monarchs, like the Monarch of Mo and King Rinkitink.

While the latter is presented as a nice guy but not such a great ruler, most of Thompson’s childish kings seem to serve their kingdoms quite well. They can be naive, but are generally competent. We also can’t forget that both Baum and Thompson introduce several rulers who actually are children. Ozma herself is the best example of this, and we’re frequently told how her courtiers spend a lot of their time playing games. Thompson definitely plays up this aspect of Ozma’s court, sometimes contrasting it with more formal countries like the Silver Island and Samandra.

The Scarecrow views Oz as “quite democratic” in relation to the Silver Island, even though its people have little to no voice in its government. Thompson writes, “In Oz no one thought it queer if Ozma, the little Queen, jumped rope with Dorothy or Betsy Bobbin, or had a quiet game of croquet with the palace cook.”

With the cozy kingdom model, Thompson seems to be aiming for a mixture of quaint, old-fashioned European-style monarchies with American ideals with which her readers would have been familiar, resulting in places that sounded appealing to children. Hey, I don’t think I’d mind playing board games with a king or queen, as long as they weren’t the sort who had you beheaded if you won.

This entry was posted in Characters, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Merry Monarchies

  1. Her kings and queens were all so likeable but all so forgettable. I always get them confused unless I really give it some thought…especially since almost all of them are crammed up in the Gillikin er…Gilliken Country.

    • Nathan says:

      That’s a common complaint about Thompson’s kingdoms and rulers. I can usually remember which is which, but I’ve probably taken up valuable space in my memory with that information.

  2. Pingback: The Way to Way-Up | VoVatia

  3. Pingback: Got My Kojo Working | VoVatia

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