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The Hall of Heroines
Dorothy Gale

A Heroine's Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road

For me, it started with Dorothy skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, winning her trip home with pluck, a pure heart, and a little help from her friends. Unlike characters I would encounter later, she never complained because the wonderland in which she found herself didn't follow the rules of her old world. She accepted the magical strangeness on its own terms - even if she preferred sepia-toned Kansas. And although she was sometimes frightened to tears, she never gave up.

She may have been carried away by a tornado, but Dorothy is a very down-to-earth heroine. She knows what is right: kindness, fairness, loyalty, generosity, truthfulness, and that's the way she acts. She doesn't hesitate to tell a wicked person that they're behaving badly, but if that person later expresses repentance she's always willing to forgive.

Because of her kind heart, generosity toward others and her courage, Dorothy is made a Princess of Oz and is given apartments in the palace - but she continues to insist on returning home to Kansas after each adventure because of her love for Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. Only when the bank forecloses on the farm does she come to Oz to stay, bringing her uncle and aunt with her. No one grows old in Oz, so she remains forever a young girl who is always ready for adventure - especially if there is someone who needs help.

 

Dorothy by W.W. Denslow

Original Oz illustrator W.W. Denslow shows Dorothy throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West.
 

Judy Garland as Dorothy

For millions of movie-goers, Dorothy is
inseparable from Judy Garland.

The ur-Witch

 
The Wicked Witch of the West:
One of the Great American Nightmares -
And an Enemy Reckon With

WWW and Hourglass

Someone once called her "The American ur-Witch." Think "witch" and the face that comes to mind is probably some variation of Margaret Hamilton in green make-up, black conical hat and shapeless black dress.
 
The Wicked Witch of the West (unlike her rival Glinda, she has no name) is a terrifying enemy. She is merciless, relentless, and commands awesome magical powers. There should be no way a little girl like Dorothy could ever hope to overcome her - which makes Dorothy's persistence and courage all the more remarkable. Without the witch, Dorothy's heroic journey becomes simply a challenging walk down a long road.
 
I uphold tradition by identifying Dorothy as a heroine and the WWotW as the villain, but I have to include a link to this delightful site which presents the witch in a rather different perspective: Broomsticks at 20 Paces