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Dorothy Gale

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Not in Kansas anymore...

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Dorothy Gale with the Slippers 1900.

You are welcome most noble Sorceress, to the country of the Munchkins here in the land of Oz. We are so grateful to you for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, and for setting our people free from Bondage.-The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Dorothy Gale is a fictional character invented by author L. Frank Baum. She is the main character who is the heroine of Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. In Baum's book Dorothy is introduced as the child protagonist who triumphs over the the book's "wicked" antagonists. Her most notable portrayals in film versions, is in the iconic MGM musical movie adaption of 1939, played by late actress Judy Garland. And by then child actress Fairuza Balk as Judy's semi-sequel counterpart Dorothy in the 1985 Walt Disney cult classic Return to Oz.

Background InformationEdit

Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies... -The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

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Dorothy Gale in Kansas 1900.

In both versions of Baum's and Maguire's story, Dorothy is a little girl living at a small and joyless farm on the desolate prairies of Kansas in circa 1899-1900. There she stays with her pet dog Toto, her uncle Henry who is a farmer and her aunt Em who is his wife. Both are the guardians of Dorothy who was orphaned at a young age. Dorothy and Toto were both transported to the magical land of Oz in a Kansas cyclone that swept them away while aloft in the prairie farmhouse. In the original story Dorothy is viewed as the Hero who saves the day and is praised for exterminating Oz's most dreaded Wicked Witches during her unexpected arrival and extended stay. The first Wicked Witch Dorothy killed was the one of the east, when she arrived in Oz via cyclone. The second Wicked Witch she killed was when the Wizard negotiated a deal with Dorothy to slay the one of the west to prove herself worthy of his magic to be sent back home.

Well," said the Head, "I will give you my answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do Wizard?" asked the girl. "Kill the Wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz. -The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

  • In the story of Wicked however, Dorothy is not the Hero nor Villain. Maguire portrays Dorothy as a good-natured child, practical, single-minded and even slightly boring.

The Matter of DorothyEdit

So much happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in...

Oz Cyclone

Dorothy's house in the cyclone 1900.

...she was up and running in an ungainly way, and her three goofy companions followed in a mounting panic. As the first few drops of rain fell, the Witch caught sight, not of the girl's face, but the shoes. Her sister's shoes! They sparkled, even in the darkening afternoon. They sparkled like yellow diamonds in the sun, embers of blood, and thorny stars... -introduction to Wicked (1995)

Author Gregory Maguire combined both the original character of 1900's Dorothy by Baum and the 1939 version of Dorothy portrayed by Judy Garland while adding his own traits into the character making it work for the story of Wicked. In the book, Dorothy was originally around ten to twelve years old. Maguire keeps his Dorothy a mere child like in the original book, while also adding some of the personality traits and mannerisms of Judy Garland's Dorothy who was sixteen when she played the role. And much like in the original story by Baum, Maguire confirms that Dorothy's experience in Oz was real and not a dream like it appeared to be in the 1939 film version. In both novels, Oz is just an undiscovered counrty. It is a land that is cut off from the rest of the world and surrounded by a great vast desert much too deadly to cross. Oz is a much less civilized universe, compared to our own, where great and marvelous things are possible and real magic still exist.

Despite being the child protagonist in the original story, Dorothy Gale is only referenced to a few times in the musical and appearing as a semi-cameo character toward the end of the book. In the story of Wicked, Dorothy is not the focal point of the plot even though she does play a rather small but very important role, only being involved in the chaos and drama towards the end of Maguire's tale. Dorothy is seen as a mere outsider who cannot read Oz's unique writing system, knows nothing about the land of Oz or it's complex politics and overall laws or history. Dorothy is oblivious to the world around her and although Dorothy is well-meaning, mature for her age and very compassionate beyond her years, her innocence and unyielding desire to return back to her homeland Kansas, causes a domino effect in the result of negative outcomes. And much unwanted trouble and heartache for the main character of the book, Elphaba Thropp. It is Elphaba's bad reputation as Dorothy does not know any better to think of Elphaba for anything other than what everyone else in Oz views her as, which is the Wicked Witch of the West. Even though Elphaba is not truly Wicked, just misunderstood. But Dorothy however, is not aware of this until she meets Elphaba in the Vinkus aka the "Winkie Country."

Goddess of Gifts...

...When Boq saw the girl's silver shoes he said, "You must be a great Sorceress of some kind." "Why?" Asked Dorothy. "Because you wear the magic silver shoes and have killed the pair's owner, the Wicked Witch of the East. Besides, you have white in your frock, and only Witches and Sorceresses wear white." "My dress is blue and white checked," said Dorothy, smoothing out the wrinkles in it. "It is kind of you to wear that," said Boq. "Blue is the color of the Munchkins, and white is the good Witch color. So we know you are a friendly one. -The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

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"You must be a great Sorceress!"

In both Baum's original children's book written in 1900 and Maguire's 1995 mature revision, Dorothy attends a celebration in Oz and spends her first night on the yellow brick road at the house of a wealthy Munchkin farmer named Boq who throws a lavish banquet in honor of Dorothy for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. In Wicked it is revealed that the two characters discussed the etymology of Dorothy's name. Boq finds it interesting that Dorothy's name is the reverse of her land's "King" Theodore — which means "gift of the gods" — and that Dorothy means "goddess of gifts". Therefore, making many of the superstitious Ozians look at Dorothy as a saint in the flesh, sent to Oz to fulfill a prophecy by the unnamed God. The fact Dorothy wears Nessarose's magic shoes, make the citizens of Oz even more superstitious of her, along with the coincidence that her last name is the same name of the Wizard's Army aka the "Gale Force", makes Dorothy nearly untouchable. Her disposition was so incredible to the Ozians that they imagined at one point that she must be an assassin, disguised "as a gullible sweetheart." 

Magic SlippersEdit

The magic shoes in Wicked are not Ruby Slippers. Instead they are described like this:

"From a pile of ash shavings she withdrew a shoe, and then another. Were they silver? – or blue? – or now red? – lacquered with a candy shell brilliance of polish? It was hard to tell and it didn't matter; the effect was dazzling." (

The character Turtle Heart probably describes their symbolism best:

"To look in glass," said Turtle Heart, pointing to the roundel he had made as a toy for Elphaba, "is to see the future, in blood and rubies." (1.8.46)

The shoes are the one thing the Witch wants above all else, both in the movie and the book, but Elphaba wants the shoes for slightly different reasons than her movie counterpart.

While the movie's shoes were symbols of power, the book's shoes are symbols of love, acceptance, and family. Above all else, Nessa's shoes represent Elphaba's need to be accepted, loved, and considered important, particularly to her father.

The shoes aren't just related to themes of family and acceptance, though. They also, as in the movie, represent power. Interestingly, though, that becomes more of an excuse for Elphaba to justify her obsession with getting the shoes from Dorothy:

"Should she pursue Dorothy, should she snatch those shoes away – and what were her real motives? Was it to keep them out of the hands of the Wizard ... Or was it to snatch back some small shred of Frex's attention?" (5.10.1)

Ultimately, Elphaba may turn the shoes into something more than they really are.

  • (Gregory Maguire combines elements from the 1939 film and paying homage to the 1900 book by Baum by making the slippers both ruby and silver while adding his own twist to his own version of the classic Oz tale.)

In Wicked, when the cyclone dropped Dorothy's farmhouse, it fell out of the sky and landed on Nessarose aka the Wicked Witch of the East. Glinda gave Dorothy Nessarose's magic slippers in order to help her by enchanting the pair to protect Dorothy from possibly being hurt or even killed. And to also get her and her dog Toto out of the way from all the drama accruing in Munchkinland. Later on, when Dorothy and her companions the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion are seen in the Vinkus to complete a task for the Wizard, Dorothy along with her dog Toto and the Lion are captured by Elphaba's Flying Monkeys and are brought to the Kiamo Ko castle. There Dorothy is confronted by the Witch who wants the shoes.

Dorothy Gale In The Wicked YearsEdit

In the Novels...

"Grimmerie? I don't know what your talking about. I am all alone in this strange land, don't make me do this!" Cried the girl. "I would give you the shoes, if I could. But they won't come off! I think Glinda put a spell on them, I've been trying to get them off for days and days. My socks are so sweaty it's not to be believed! " -Wicked (1995)

While assuming Dorothy had to be tied into the tapestry of conspiracies in Oz, Elphaba demands the slippers Dorothy has been wearing since her unexpected arrival. Dorothy tries to do what Elphaba commands but the shoes are enchanted under the protection of Glinda and will not come off. Dorothy confesses that the Wizard of Oz even tried to pry the shoes off before sending Dorothy out to the Vinkus to kill Elphaba in exchange to be sent home. But despite efforts, the slippers simply will not come off her feet. Dorothy is magically locked tight inside of them.

Elphaba melts

Elphaba confronts a frightened Dorothy!

As it became apparent, Elphaba breifly realizes that Dorothy really was an innocent human girl from a different place who had been thrown into a world that she knew nothing about. Elphaba is physiologically and emotionally crippled by Dorothy's honest pleas for forgiveness for killing her sister. Suddenly, hot sparks from a nearby fire caught on Elphaba's long robes, setting her ablaze. So Dorothy tried to put out the fire by grabbing a nearby bucket of water that was collecting rainwater from a leak. Dorothy tossed the bucket at her, but to Dorothy's horror it tragically melted the Witch away, killing her by accident.

Son Of A Witch...

In the sequel Son of a Witch, the story picks up right after Elphaba's tragic death. Liir her oddball son, accompanies Dorothy, her dog Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion back to the Emerald City to see the Wizard a second time after completing their task and to collect their rewards.

While traveling, Dorothy and the group all meet a shapeshifting Princess who is also leader to her Scrow tribe, in the Vinkus. The Princesses name is Nastoya who is originally an Elephant. But because of the Wizard and his prejudice veiws against Animals, Nastoya disguised herself and vailed her true form. And in front of the traveling group she morphs herself and transforms right infront of them all which is described as being revolting to watch as Nastoya's skin stretches and her bones shift and body mutates. Seeing this, Dorothy nearly vomits in her apron and Toto passes out.

When Dorothy reaches the Emerald City she leaves Liir behind as she speaks with the Wizard and never comes back to say goodbye before returning to Kansas like she promised Liir she would do. It is rumored that when Dorothy used the slippers to go home, she was seen descending into the sky waving her apron and carrying that "damn fool dog".

Out Of Oz...

In the thrid book of the Wicked series Out of Oz, it is explained that Dorothy was teleported back home, flying over the land of Oz and back to Kansas thanks to the power of the slippers. Unfortunately, Dorothy lost the pair as they fell off of her feet. The shoes lost their enchantment once they were taken out of Oz's realm. Dorothy reappears while holding Toto, shockingly still in one piece and shoeless on the prairie field's of Kansas.

Due to her extended disappearance and unexplainable survival from the cyclone, the other children at the Kansas Schoolhouse shunned Dorothy and labeled her a freak of nature for riding the winds of a twister and living to tell about it. Nonetheless suddenly reappearing out of nowhere months later. And Dorothy's tales of Oz, only make her seem completely crazy. Thus, making her unmarrigeable and "ungodly".

Six years later, Dorothy and Toto are unexpectedly sent to Oz by fate once again. But now she is approximately sixteen years old. Even though it has been less than a decade since Dorothy's first visit in her world, it has been around twenty to thirty years in Oz's time.

Back in Kansas, Dorothy's aunt Em and uncle Henry never believed her story about Oz and criticised her for having her head in the clouds and sabotaging herself as no one wanted to be around Dorothy because of her never-ending talk about Oz.

To help Dorothy forget about Oz, she is taken to San Fransisco on vacation by her aunt and uncle. However, after sight seeing, Dorothy ends up being trapped with Toto in a motel elevator during they're stay as an earthquake hits California. The elevator with Dorothy inside gets stuck and as the building collapses the elevator falls into the bowels of the earth and into another dimension. The elevator falls from the sky and accidentally landed on a cow and killed it. And also during the fall somehow Toto was lost as he fell out of the elevator doors which were cracked just enough for Toto to slip through.

Dorothy is eventually found by people nearby as she is buried alive under all the rocks and peices of the earth from the earthquake that came down with the elevator. Dorothy suffers from a temporary state of amnesia and a bump on her head which gave her a near concussion. She is taken in by strangers and nursed back to health. Dorothy spends many months recuperating from the traumatic event and slowly gains her memory back.

Dorothy realizes she is back in the land of Oz again, specifically in the country of Oz's Glikkus tribe. The Glikkun trolls extradited her to Munchkinland's new capital, Bright Lennins, where the new Eminence had her stand trial for the murders of Nessarose and Elphaba Thropp, calling it "regicide." Dorothy is imprisoned against her will and is used as a mere scapegoat who will be left accountable for the deaths of the two Thropp sisters who died decades prior. The overall court case finds Dorothy guilty and she is sentenced. To her surprise Brrr, her old friend who is the Cowardly Lion and Mr. Boss, and Little Daffy come to her defense and rescue her from her harsh sentence.

Dorothy is reunited with her dog Toto whom she thought was dead and the two eventually are sent back to Kansas in the end of the story to find her aunt and uncle who she wonders survived the earthquake or not. Dorothy's ultimate fate when she returns to California again is a mystery and is left open for the reader's imagination to decide.

In the MusicalEdit

While Dorothy is present in the popular Broadway musical Wicked (based on Maguire's book), she is never actually seen; when the main characters interact with her, they speak into direction of the wings, or into a trapdoor, as if she is sitting offstage and out of the view of the audience.


Dorothy Melting Elphaba in the Musical.

Dorothy does appear on the stage during a pivotal scene, but the audience sees only her silhouette.The image of the melting is potrayed by a projector onto a sheet that is drawn across the stage by Elphaba to protect Glinda.

However, in the Helsinki City Theatre Production (2010-2011) Dorothy appears several times throughout the musical in key scenes, such as in the Cornfields skipping happily along a road paved with yellow bricks and finally in the Melting scene throwing water at Elphaba. She's portrayed by Saara Aalto.

The Real Dorothy GaleEdit

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June 11, 1898, in Bloomington, Illinois, Dorothy Louise Gage, was born to Sophie Jewel and Thomas Clarkson Gage, the brother-in-law of L. Frank Baum. Frank’s wife was intensely fond of the child and treated her as the daughter she never had but always wanted. Five months later, Dorothy Louise died of a "congestion of the brain”. Frank’s wife was stricken with grief, she wrote to her sister- in-law: "Dorothy was a beautiful baby. I could have taken her for my very own and loved her devotedly." Frank loving his wife so dearly, not only named but changed the main character of his latest children’s book from a boy to a girl named Dorothy, after his little niece.

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