Land of Oz

From Academic Kids

Oz is an imaginary region containing four countries under the rule of one monarch. It was first introduced in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L. Frank Baum, and described and expanded upon in the Oz Books. Baum wrote fourteen children's books about Oz and its odd inhabitants. After his death Ruth Plumly Thompson continued the series.

The authors of Oz books are titled "Royal Historians of Oz", and it is their duty to report to the children of our world on the goings-on in the Land of Oz. Any confusion or contradiction between the different versions of their histories is utterly their own fault.


Contents

Geography

The Land of Oz
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The Land of Oz

Oz is roughly rectangular in shape, and divided along the diagonals into five countries: Munchkin Country in the east, Winkie Country in the west, Gillikin Country in the north, and Quadling Country in the south. In the center of Oz, where the diagonals cross, is the fabled Emerald City, capital of the land of Oz and seat to the monarch of Oz, Princess Ozma. Unfortunately, numerous pockets throughout the land of Oz are cut off from the mainland, for geographic or cultural reasons, and have never heard of Ozma, making it impossible for them to acknowledge her as their rightful queen. It is necessary therefore to send occasional delegations to these remote places in order to enlighten their inhabitants.

Oz is completely surrounded on all four sides by a Deadly Desert, which insulates the citizens of Oz from discovery and invasion. The desert has nonetheless been breached numerous times, both by children from our world (mostly harmless), and by more sinister characters, such as the Wizard of Oz and the Nome King, who occasionally gets the urge to conquer Oz. It was therefore necessary for Glinda to create a Barrier of invisibility around the Land of Oz, for further protection: however this barrier has merely slowed, not stopped, the flow of visitors to Oz.

Perceptive cartographers will notice that on some maps of Oz, the west is drawn on the right-hand side of the map, and the east is drawn on the left-hand side, though north is still at the top and south at the bottom of the map. The compass rose on these maps is adjusted accordingly. There are some that hold that this is the result of an error on behalf of on early Oz cartographer, who copied the map from a glass slide, without noticing he was holding the slide backwards. However, the true reason for this feature of Oz maps, is that it simply reflects the nature of Oz at the time (perhaps as a result of Glinda's spell, which has the effect of confusing most standard compasses).

Oz and Surrounding Countries
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Oz and Surrounding Countries

Oz is the largest country on the continent of Nonestica, which also includes the countries of Ev, Ix, Mo and Phunniland. Nonestica is an island in the Nonestic Ocean. Researchers attempting to locate the land of Oz have deduced that Nonestica must be somewhere in the Pacific, however, due to the aformentioned barrier of invisibility, this is impossible to confirm using modern technology (or using antiquated technology, for that matter).

History

The documentation of Ozian history began with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, but Oz had existed for hundreds if not thousands of years prior to the events related in that book. Early Ozian history must therefore be reconstructed from the fragments scattered between later historical documents. These fragments contain many inconsistencies, and sometimes flatly contradict each other, leading to endless contention between Oz historians over what is fact and what is myth about the founding of the modern land of Oz.

The following chronology is based on information gleaned from the Oz books, but not necessarily accepted as true by all Oz historians.

Originally Oz was an ordinary place like any other land, until the fairy queen Lurline enchanted it and left one of her fairies there as ruler. According to some versions, the fairy left behind was Ozma herself, Lurline's own daughter. These versions of Ozian history tell that every rightful ruler of Oz was female and that her name was Ozma. Other versions mention a line of ancestors who ruled Oz before Ozma.

At some point Oz was ruled by a king, Pastoria, the father of the most recent Ozma. This king was overthrown by four wicked witches. They subdivided the land into the four countries and enslaved the inhabitants. Two of the wicked witches were later overthrown by good witches: Glinda the good ruled the land of the Quadlings, and the good witch of the north, Tattypoo, ruled the land of the Gillikins.

Later on, Oscar Diggs, a hack magician from Omaha blew into Oz in his hot air balloon. He convinced the inhabitants that he was a great Wizard, and they asked him to become their new leader. Diggs reunited the four countries under one name, "Oz", his first two initials, and became The Wizard of Oz. He had the people build a great Emerald City in the center of the land of Oz, which he used as his capital. The Wizard locked himself in a room in the city and never took audience with anyone because of his fear of being discovered. The witches were allowed to continue to rule over their respective countries because the Wizard had no real magic to stop them.

This version of Ozian history is problematic in that the Wizard named the country after himself even though it had been known as Oz and its rulers had been named Ozma for perhaps millennia. More likely is that the story of the Wizard's naming the land after himself is a type of retroactive continuity or revisionist history that attempted to explain the etymology of the name without a complete previous knowledge.
Post "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" history

Eventually, Dorothy Gale, and her whole house are blown into Oz from Kansas by a tornado. When the house lands, it crushes the Wicked Witch of the East, ruler of the Munchkins. In an attempt to get home, she journeys to the Emerald City. Along the way, she meets the Tin Woodsman, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow, who all accompany her. Once there, they become one of the first people to gain audience with the Wizard since he had gone into seclusion, although he disguises himself. This is due to the fact that Dorothy now has the Wicked Witch of the East's magic silver slippers, and the Wizard is afraid of her. The Wizard sends Dorothy and her party to dispose of the Wicked Witch of the West, in exchange for granting her request to send her home. He believes that the Witch will probably destroy them and he won't be found out. Surprisingly, she does destroy the Witch, by throwing a pail of water on her. Defeated, the Wizard reveals to the group that he is in fact not a real wizard and has no magic. Buts he promises to grant Dorothy's wish and take her home himself in his balloon. He leaves the Scarecrow in his place to rule Oz and the Winkies ask the Tin Woodsman to be their ruler in place of the Wicked Witch.

Finally, it is discovered that the daughter of the last king of Oz, Princess Ozma, had been given to an old witch, Mombi, by the wizard to hide away. Mombi had turned Ozma into a boy named Tip, whom she raised. When all of this is revealed Tip is turned back into Ozma and takes her rightful place as the benevolent ruler of all of Oz. Ozma successfully wards off several attempts by various armies to overthrow her. To prevent any upheaval of her rule over Oz, she outlaws the practice of all magic in Oz except by the wizard (after he later returns) and by Glinda, and she uses her magic belt to make all of Oz invisible to outsiders. Ozma remains the ruler of Oz for the entirety of the series.

Missing image
RoyalOzFlag.GIF
The Royal flag of Oz, as described in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Economy and Politics

Some political analysts have claimed that Oz is a barely disguised socialist utopia, though most Baum scholars differ strenuously[1] (http://www.eskimo.com/~tiktok/faq02.html#15). Advocates of this theory support it using this quotation from The Emerald City of Oz:

"There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbours whatever he required for his use, which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do. There were no cruel overseers set to watch them, and no one to rebuke them or to find fault with them. So each one was proud to do all he could for his friends and neighbors, and was glad when they would accept the things he produced."

However, other passages in the Oz books contradict this: for example, when Dorothy first enters the Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she sees children paying with green pennies. Also, as Oz is ruled by a monarch, benevolent though she may be, it cannot be a true socialist society.

In a later book Princess Ozma is seen running for election to her office as ruler, though she does so unopposed, so beloved is she.

The rulers of Oz's territories have grander titles than would normally be customary, but this is done mostly for the satisfaction of the incumbents. The ruler of the Winkie Country is the Emperor, the Tin Woodsman. The ruler of the Quadling Country is Queen Glinda the Good.

Demographics

Recurring characters in the series include:

See also: List of characters in the Oz books

Miscellaneous

Death in Oz

An interesting side note is the fact, stated in The Tin Woodman of Oz, that no one in Oz could die. Anyone killed would continue to live wounded, beheaded or not. This "fact" was not universally adhered to in the novels, particularly those preceding The Tin Woodman of Oz -- for instance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, although containing perhaps the definitive example of the rule (the Tin Woodman's origin), also has the deaths of two wicked witches. As well, the Tin Woodman rescues the Queen of the Field Mice by chopping off the head of a pursuing wildcat. Whether the cat's unjoined head and body continue to live independent of each other goes unmentioned in the text.

Origin of the name Oz

A legend of uncertain validity is that when relating bedtime stories (the origin of the Oz novels) Baum was asked by one of his listeners the name of the magical land. He glanced at a nearby filing cabinet which was marked O-Z. Thus he named the land Oz. Another story is that Oz is a corruption of Uz, the homeland of Job in the Old Testament. It is also speculated that Oz was named after the abbreviation for ounce.



The land | The characters (including Dorothy and The Wizard)
The books | The authors (Baum | Thompson | McGraw | Volkov) | The illustrators (Denslow | Neill)
The film adaptations (The Wizard of Oz | The Wiz | Return to Oz)
ja:オズの魔法使い

sv:Landet Oz

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