Elisa Kay Sparks
EK Sparks
Clemson U
September 2000

The Female Hero:
Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
Compared to Luke in Star Wars 

Female Hero

Dorothy/ Oz

Male Hero

Luke/ Star Wars

Innocent world of childhood—grey world; imprisonment in domestic enclosures
Kansas is filmed in sepia tone. 

In the book, the prairie is described as grey, as is Auntie Em. 

Innocent world of childhood—protected, green world
Luke (like Dorothy and most heroes) is an orphan, living with caretakerts who are not his true parents.While Tatoine is a desert planet, he lives a calm and protected life as a farmer.
  • slay dragon of virginity myth
  • treasure: freedom


  • Ms. Gulch’s threats against Toto galvanize Dorothy, but all the adults in her life refuse to listen to her call for help.
  • After Toto escapes Gulch, Dorothy runs away, but is persuaded to return home, only to be swept up by the tornado
·Call to the quest
·Refusal of call
·Acceptance of call
  • Parental blocking figure, Uncle Owen, reminds Luke of familial responsibilities.
  • Luke returns to find family farm burned out by imperial stormtroopers; now has no reason to stay.
  • None of the farm hands will help
  • Dorothy's Guide is Glinda, but she disappears almost immediately.
  • For Map she has the yellow brick road
  • Her talisman is the ruby slippers
·Supernatural Aid:
  • guide, mentor
  • weapons
  • maps
  • talisman, mentors
  • Obi Wan Kenobi -- Merlin figure -- is guide
  • Talisman is father's light saber
  • Map is design of  Death Star carried by R2D2
  • Another Universe
  • The Fortunate Fall (Green World)
  • For the female hero, just beginning the quest is a victory; taking this first step often involves entering a new, greener, more alive world—such as the Technicolor Oz.
    ·Entering the Belly of the Whale
    • Landing in Oz is Dorothy's literal crossing of the threshold.
    • The house lands on the Wicked Witch of the West; Dorothy's first heroic act is an accident.
    • Munckhinland is the gateway, introduction to Oz.  The final threshold is stepping onto the yellow brick road.
    ·Crossing the Threshold
    ·The Inn on the Border
    ·Entering the Belly of the Whale
    • Luke's leaving of his home planet Tantooine is the crossing of the threshold.
    • The bar with its chaotic assembly of aliens serves as a passage to the dangerous world Luke is about to enter. Obi Wan and Han each slay an alien, and Obi Wan also distracts imperial storm troopers so that the way is clear for Luke who cannot yet fight his own battles.
    • Entering the Belly of the Whale: The Imperial Falcoln is drawn into the Death Star by tractor beam.
    • slay dragon of romantic love; discover qualities she needs are within her
    • treasure: wholeness, autonomy


    • ·Gathering the Companions



    • · The Seducer (2)



    • · Road of Trials
    • The Lion, Tinman, and Scarecrow are Dorothy's companions; each represents qualities she needs to be a hero.
    • Female hero often encounters a companion who appears to be a guide, but winds up re-imprisoning her
    • Road of Trials is yellow brick raod, and also Wizard's test: to get broomstick
    • Gathering Companions
    • The Road of Trials: Tests and Ordeals
    • R2D2 & 3CPO, the loyal servants; Han Solo, the older brother/buddy with  the self-confidence Luke lacks. Han has his own Other companion, Chewbacca: Tonto, Sancho Panza, Jim to Hans' Huck.
    ·The light man and the dark man(female hero often has to choose between two men, one of whom will re-imprison her in domestic enclosures)
    ·Dragon Battle
    ·Nadir: symbolic death/ dismemberment
    • Dorothy’s dragon battle is with Witch
    • Abduction, being flown to castle by monkeys
    • Nadir is running of sand through hourglass
    • Witch is killed with water—symbol of fertility
    • Scarecrow suffers dismemberment
    • Brother Battle
    • Abduction—night sea journey
    • Dragon Battle
    • Nadir--symbolic death/dismemberment
    (in second film, Luke fights Darth Vader in a dream; when he takes off Vader’s helmet, find his own face.)
    · Sea journey is fall into trash compactor
    ·Dragon battle is fight with serpent in trash water (real battle is Obi-Wan against Vader)
    ·Nadir is trash compactor squeezing shut
    ·Symbolic death is Obi Wan’s real death
    ·Dismemberment is suffered by 3CPO
    • Return to Emerald City with broom
    • Wizard turns out to be a sham
    ·Atonement to/ recognition by father
    Obi- Wan returns as internal voice
    ·Sacred Marriage
    Luke saves Leis: Tarzan leap, kiss
    Recognition of qualities of companions: Scarecrow gets diploma;Lion medal; Tinman testimonial
    ·Wizard offers return in balloon
    • · Apotheosis/ recognition as hero as hero
    • Granting of Ultimate Boon
    Luke is acceepted as fighter by rebel forces
    • Journey to ancestral home to find father; discovers unity with mother instead
    • Slay dragon of female inferiority
    • treasure: female tradition


    • Refusal of Return
    • Rescue by Heroic Mother
    • Crossing Return Threshold
    Toto jumps out of balloon; Dorothy too
    ·Glinda comes back and reveals power of slippers
    ·Dorothy clicks slippers and returns to Kansas
    ·Refusal of return
    ·Magic Flight
    ·Crossing Return Threshold
    • Refusal: Han refuses to fight
    • Flight: Luke’s passes over Death Star
    • · Rescue: Han’s return to save Luke, and Obi Wan's presence
    • · return Threshold: Leaving the exploding Death Star
    Back in real (sepia) world of Kansas, Dorothy find new life and love (new barn, milking cows; Auntie Em and farm hands all love her)
    ·Master of Two Worlds
    ·Freedom to Live
    Luke and Han receive medals and accolades from rebel community

    Sources for this table include:
    On The Female Hero (Click for fuller biblio)
    On Remedios Varo
    On the Traditional Hero
    Additional Sources on Stars Wars (Click for fuller Biblio)