Oz-Crossed Lovers

L. Frank Baum was known to have said that he didn’t want romance or “mawkish sentimentality” in his children’s stories. Of course, Baum was also known for breaking pretty much every writing rule he came up with, but he was generally faithful to this ideal. When he wrote about the marriage of Gayelette and Quelala in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it was a sidenote to the main story and told from the point of view of a character who was wronged by Gayelette’s desire to have a perfect wedding. Baum’s Oz plays and movies, which weren’t as specifically geared towards children, were more likely to include stage-style romance. The play of The Wizard of Oz had an older Dorothy in love with a poet, the troubled relationship of Pastoria and the waitress Tryxie Tryfle, and the Tin Woodman’s old lover played as a parody of Ophelia from Hamlet. The Patchwork Girl film added in a subplot about the engagement of Dr. Pipt’s daughter Jesseva to a man named Danx, and made Jinjur her rival for his affections.

The Tik-Tok Man of Oz had a few different pairings, but the only one that made it into the book Tik-Tok of Oz was that of Private Files and Ozga, and it was largely downplayed.

Indeed, near the end, Ozma merely says that the two of them are “good friends.” Their relationship is developed a little more in Melody Grandy and Chris Dulabone’s Thorns and Private Files. The romance of Pon and Gloria in Scarecrow, this time based on the film His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, is more significant to the plot.

It’s basically the typical sort of stage romance, with the princess in love with a gardener’s boy when her uncle wants her to marry a creepy old rich guy. Still, we largely see it from the point of view of the young Trot, who tells Gloria, “Well, never mind; Pon isn’t any great shakes, anyhow, seems to me. There are lots of other people you can love.” Finally, Tin Woodman has the title character seek out his old sweetheart, who in the book continuity hasn’t become a Lady Lunatic. Nick Chopper assumes she’s still pining for him, only to find that she actually dated another man after him, and eventually married a man made of both of their old body parts. Nick is angry when he learns this, even though he didn’t seem to have any interest in her anymore. Strange how such things work out.

When Ruth Plumly Thompson took over the Oz series, she tended to give it a bit more of a traditional fairy tale flavor, which included fairy tale romances. Kabumpo and Grampa both have one of the main characters unwillingly seeking a princess to marry, becoming close with an enchanted girl, and then finding out that she was a princess all along. In Silver Princess, Randy, who had earlier decided “to marry a princess as lovely as Peg Amy,” falls in love with a girl made of metal.

All three of these women are restored (or in the last case, converted) to human form, but it does show that being made of flesh and blood might not be strictly necessary for romantic love, at least in Oz.

I’m actually not entirely sure why the characters thought it was so urgent to restore Urtha’s humanity when she appeared to be practically indestructible when made of flowers.

Maybe they worried that the sex would be awkward, although of course this wasn’t actually mentioned in the text. Jack Pumpkinhead has Baron Belgaygor of Bourne trying to rescue his fiancee Shirley Sunshine, but again we mostly see the relationship from the points of view of other characters.

There’s also Speedy, easily the most hormonal of the Americans to visit Oz. In Yellow Knight, he develops a crush on Marygolden, an enchanted girl he discovers in Subterranea, and plans to take her home with him.

Since he lives on Long Island, this might well have left her pining for the eerie underground cavern. Once her memory is restored, however, she ends up with Sir Hokus of Pokes, who had set out to win her hand 500 years previously. When Speedy’s friendship with the Princess of Umbrella Island in Speedy develops into something deeper, however, there’s no sign of any competition. And while they don’t end up as a couple (they’re still children, after all), there’s an indication at the end of the book that they’ll likely get married someday.

Romance is sparse in the post-Thompson Oz books (the official ones, anyway), but there is the case of Jenny Jump and Number Nine in John R. Neill’s stories. In Wonder City, he develops a crush on her and she exploits it, but she becomes more willing to reciprocate over time. It’s interesting to note that, as of the time of this book, Number Nine is said to have stopped growing at twelve, while Jenny starts out being fifteen and has her age reduced to eleven. In Neill’s other books, they’re very close companions, and Number Nine becomes more mature. I wouldn’t be that surprised if they were to eventually marry, but it would likely mean aging a few years first.

This entry was posted in Characters, Chris Dulabone, Fairy Tales, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Melody Grandy, Oz, Oz Authors, Relationships, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Oz-Crossed Lovers

  1. Bryan Babel says:

    –I’m actually not entirely sure why the characters thought it was so urgent to restore Urtha’s humanity when she appeared to be practically indestructible when made of flowers.–

    You may remember that Glinda in “The Marvelous Land of Oz” makes a big deal about returning Ozma to her “proper form”, and says that only Witches deal in transformations as they are not “honest.”

    Fairy tale conventions (based, perhaps, on Platonic philosophy) demand that things to be themselves have to be made of their Form (an idea or spirit) and their Matter. When the two are at odds with themselves, their nature is out of balance; a human transformed into a beast suffers by being less than he was, and a beast transformed to a man cannot to true to either nature.

    • Nathan says:

      I suppose the Tin Woodman doesn’t count, since his tin form wasn’t the direct result of a transformation. Melody Grandy did write a book where he and Captain Fyter are changed by Zim so that they can switch between tin and flesh, but I didn’t really care for the idea. Glinda apparently doesn’t think remaining young counts as going against nature.

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