Christmas Dorothy and the Heroine


I know what you’re thinking–Dorothy and heroine? I knew she seemed overeager to take a siesta in the poppies.  Except we’re talking heroine with an E, Smartypants, so cool your jets.  Ya know, the badass female kind.

Let’s talk adventure.  At some point in your life, you’ve come across the hero’s journey, knowingly or not.  It’s a story format that occurs over and over again throughout literature and film.  Given in to the recent Star Wars mania? You just witnessed a form of the hero’s journey.  Harry Potter? Yeah, him too.  And also Percy Jackson,Odysseus, Ender Wiggins, Simba, Shrek, Hercules, Aladdin, Edmund from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Nemo…and on, and on. These are the types of examples I learned when first introduced to the concept, and they’re likely the examples most teachers use to teach the concept.  But then I got to thinking Where the ladies at?  Don’t The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feature some adventurous females that follow roughly the same path?

Here’s the standard diagram, created by Joseph Campbell:

hero journey

Shall we do a test run?

  1. Ordinary World: Dorothy in Kansas, singing her someday-over-the-rainbow woes.
  2. Call to Adventure: Maybe I’ll run away.  Come on Toto, let’s go get FroYo in the big, bad city.
  3. Refusal of the Call: Crystal ball shows worried Auntie Em, aka Dorothy isn’t the runaway type (but who’s that fortune-telling dude? It’s like he’s some kind of wizard).
  4. Meeting the Mentor: No wait, that fortune-telling dude IS the wizard.
  5. Crossing the Threshold: One-way tornado ticket to Oz, please.
  6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: Are you a good witch or a bad witch; hey, these munchkins have some sick dance moves; and I’ll-get-you-my-pretty introductions.
  7. Approach: Off to see the wizard with my homies Scarecrow, Tinman, and a Lion of the cowardly sort.
  8. Ordeal, Death, and Rebirth: Dorothy vs. Wicked Witch, aka mean-ass neighbor who wants to take Toto for the pound put-down special.
  9. Reward, Seizing the Sword: Dorothy: “What do you mean you’re not a real wizard?!”  Wizard: “I’m just a man, but here take these symbols of things you’ve had from the beginning.”
  10. The Road Back: Tap your heels together three times.
  11. Resurrection: Bring on the neighbor.  I’m ready.
  12. Return with Elixir: There really is no place like home.  Let’s have pie.

Fits suspiciously well, wouldn’t you say? It’s difficult to become something you can’t see, so let’s make sure we’re rolling out the lady examples of courageous doings (in addition to the Luke Skywalker goodness) when covering this ever-recurring story type, ya feel me. Good talk—- fist bump.


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