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Dorothy Gale is the protagonist of many of the Oz novels by American author L. Frank Baum, first appearing in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), and reappearing in most of its sequels. Because of their common genre and timeframe of origin, Dorothy is often associated with Peter Pan and his related characters, sometimes appearing together in crossovers such the Disney Kingdom Hearts video games, the comic book series The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles, or the pornographic graphic novel The Lost Girls. Like the Barrie characters, Dorothy is best known today from her cinematic adaptation in the mid-20th century, in which she is portrayed by Judy Garland. She is easily recognized by her iconic appearance, wearing a blue and white checked gingham dress and her hair in pigtails.
Unlike Peter Pan, Dorothy's adventures were continued in a long series of books by her creator and his successors, in which Dorothy returned to Oz, which eventually becomes more familiar to her than her homeland of Kansas. Indeed, Dorothy eventually goes to live in an apartment in the Emerald City Palace, but only once Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have settled in a farmhouse on the outskirts of the Emerald City, unable to pay the mortgage on their house in Kansas.
An influence on the creation of Dorothy appears to be the Alice books of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll). Although he found their plots incoherent, Baum identified their source of popularity as Alice herself, a child with whom the child readers could identify; this influenced his choice of a protagonist.
Like Barrie and Dodgson, Baum took the name from a child dear to him: his niece Dorothy Louise Gage, who died when she was an infant. Baum's wife was deeply attached to the little girl and deeply grieved by her death, so he inserted her into his story as a memoriam. Elements of her character are derived from Matilda Joslyn Gage, Dorothy's grandmother.
In the Oz books, Dorothy is an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle in the bleak landscape of a Kansas farm, with her little black dog Toto. Dorothy and Toto are swept away by a cyclone to the Land of Oz and, much like Alice going to Wonderland and to a lesser extent the Darling children and Neverland, they enter a lively alternative world filled with talking creatures. In many of the Oz books, Dorothy is the main hero of the stories. Her blue and white gingham dress is well-appreciated by the Munchkins, because only good witches and good sorceresses wear white, and blue is the favorite color of the Munchkins, which indicates to them that she is a good witch.
Dorothy is a forthright and take-charge character, exhibiting no fear when she slaps the Cowardly Lion, organizing the Winkies' rescue mission of her friends who have been dismembered by the Winged Monkeys, and more than willing to brazenly talk back to Princess Langwidere's threat to take her head for her collection: "Well, I b'lieve you won't." (Baum began to indicate that Dorothy speaks in a strong prairie accent with the third book, and continued to do so throughout the series). This aspect of her character was somewhat lessened with the companionship of Ozma, in whom Baum placed the greater level of wisdom and dignity. Yet even this is complicated by her associations with her second cousin, Zeb of Hugson's Ranch, a rugged, manly boy who does not take well to Oz and cannot think of anything much more interesting than defeating the Munchkins' wrestling champion, which he proves unable to do.
Uncle Henry describes Dorothy as "a dreamer, as her dead mother had been." In the first book, Dorothy's desire to return home is primarily motivated by compassion and economics. As she tells Glinda, "My greatest wish now is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it." In the third book, Dorothy's desire to return home is not as desperate as in the first one, and again it is her uncle's need for her rather than hers for him that makes her return. Oz is no longer quite the dangerous land that it was in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Princess Ozma and Dorothy quickly become best friends, and before Dorothy leaves, Ozma crowns her a princess.
The magic of Oz keeps Dorothy young. In The Lost King of Oz (1925), Dorothy is carried to a film set in Hollywood. She begins to age very rapidly to her late 20s, making up for at least some of the years that have already passed. She returns to Oz, which restores her to her younger self, but she learns then that it would be unwise for her ever to return to the outside world. A cottage industry of Oz books by mostly amateur authors and small publishing houses have been made in which Princess Dorothy of Oz lives on even to our present day.
Crossovers with Peter Pan characters
Dorothy, Alice, Wendy, Susan Pevensie (from The Chronicles of Narnia), and Pollyanna (of the book of the same name) feature in the comic The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles, set in 2005. Unlike the other characters in this work, Dorothy is based on her movie counterpart, who stopped believing in Oz after returning to Kansas, much as Susan, Alice, and Wendy stopped believing in their fairylands (or at least remembering them clearly) in both book and film versions.
- Wikipedia: Dorothy Gale