It’s still Tuesday! I have less than an hour to post a bonus blog this week!
This was originally an essay I wrote for a writers group. Our assignment this month was to write about our favorite character from The Wizard of Oz. It was something I hadn’t considered before, but I figured it out quickly. Considering the film version is one of my mother’s favorite movies, I watched it a lot growing up.
Maybe I should use this character’s song for a ballroom dance showcase…
Maybe it’s because he’s the first character Dorothy meets in her journey to Oz. Maybe it’s because his song seems to be the most iconic (and referenced) ditty in what’s already one of the best-known soundtracks in film history. Maybe it’s because, even as a kid, I had great respect for intelligence. Or maybe it’s because he’s the character I see the most of myself in.
Yes, after thinking about it, with many wonderful characters to choose from, I’ve realized my favorite character in L. Frank Baum’s fantasy classic The Wizard of Oz is the Scarecrow. That lovable straw man who, ironically, wants to have a brain.
While I’ve always been in need of more courage and I’m not lacking in heart, the Scarecrow was the character whose plight and desires I understood best. I was always an information sponge. I sought knowledge, useless or not, as much as possible. Yet I often felt like I wasn’t as smart as I wished I was. Sometimes it was because people denigrated me, but mostly it was because of my own perfectionism. Any grades less than A’s weren’t good enough. I didn’t just have to do well, I had to excel. This was especially true when my competition got more intense in college. I had far more people to compare myself to, making me wonder if I was only considered to be “smart” because standards had been lowered.
He was also the one who, in my many viewings of the classic film growing up, I could most easily see developed as a character. As the titular Wizard tells Dorothy’s friends at the end, they were never lacking for the things they sought. However, while the Lion did perform acts of bravery, he did so while whimpering. The Tin Man was certainly compassionate, but that didn’t register with me as much as a kid. The Scarecrow, however, was always the one coming up with clever plans—often on the fly—to help to overcome whatever obstacles he and his friends faced. Whether it was something simple like tricking Talking Trees (one thing all good stories must have) to get their apples for Dorothy or as dangerous as figuring out how to infiltrate the Wicked Witch’s castle. He could think on his feet, and while his plans didn’t always work out, he could find another solution.
This brings me to something else I like about the Scarecrow: leadership. He’s usually the one taking charge of the situation because the Tin Man is overwhelmed by his emotions and the Lion is freaking out. He calms them down and gives them focus. In fact, he’s the one with the coolest head when things get rough, even when they’re being chased by the Witch’s armies. Given that he’s “the man with the plan,” it shouldn’t be surprising.
Finally, I’ve always found the Scarecrow to be the funniest character in the film version. Ray Bolger is fantastic at physical comedy, and his expressions are hilarious. It makes the Scarecrow even more endearing. Just watch him sing his famous song. He moves like how you’d expect a man made of straw to move. Not only is it funny, it’s top-notch characterization. I’ve not really seen that in any other adaptation of the story.
It’s time I ended this little blog. As the Scarecrow himself said, “Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?
Who’s your favorite character from The Wizard of Oz and why?