Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alice VS. Dorothy

Two characters who are often compared but are oh, so different...

Alice of Wonderland and Looking-Glass land and Dorothy Gale of Oz.

Some time back, someone mentioned that a lot of pictures of Dorothy look like they were based on Alice...



Gee, who'da thunk?

Compare the original illustrations of them...


Ah, now without the confusion of adaptation we begin to see some difference.

Really the big difference between the two is simple: Alice is British and Dorothy is American.

Now here's another one, Alice comes from a well-to-do family while Dorothy lives on a farm in Kansas.

Dorothy's origin is simple, but with Alice, I promise I'm not grabbing straws, but honestly, one could claim that Alice's family isn't "well-to-do." I base my claim on the fact that Lewis Carroll based Alice on his child-friends (as he called them), especially Alice Liddell. Seeing as Mr. Liddell was a dean at Christchurch, I'd say my claim that they were "well-to-do" is valid.

Following their family, next is upbringing.

Dorothy has definitely become a humble child. From having both of her parents dying to living on a farm in Kansas that didn't make enough to pay off the mortages (maybe even living in an orphanage), she doesn't hold her head too high. She even introduces herself to the Wizard as "Dorothy the small and meek."

In "Ozma of Oz," Dorothy does let some importance go to her head, but, subtly, Princess Langwidere brings back Dorothy's humility by locking her in the tower, where she must be rescued by her friends again. (She does get a little snippy towards the Wizard's warnings in one of the "Little Wizard Stories," but the Wizard teaches her that she should listen by pulling a rather extreme trick on her.)

Alice, however, is a snob. In a recent instant message session with Oz fan Nathan DeHoff, he agreed by saying "I remember how, in Alice in Wonderland, she didn't want to be Mabel, because Mabel was poor." We are never given many details on Alice's upbringing. One could argue that of course a seven-year old (as revealed in Through the Looking-Glass) wouldn't look far beyond material possessions when evaluating a person, but as we're comparing ages, many Oz fans place Dorothy around Alice's age.

That is not to say that Alice is not courteous. She does care for others, take for example the Duchess' baby. She tries to tell the Cook and Duchess to treat it better, and finally takes it away because "Wouldn't it be murder to leave it behind?" She can't really be blamed for not wanting to carry a pig.

Another comparison is the lands they visit. Wonderland and Looking-Glass land are both obviously dreams where very little makes sense. Alice, however, isn't really affected by her visits.

Oz (in the book) is a real place. While some natural laws have are a little different, for the most part, Oz does follow normal rules. Dorothy is affected by her journey. She has come to realize how much she needs her aunt and uncle. (I also theorize that they have come to realize how much they needed her, but as that is not directly supported by the book, I can't use it here.)

Dorothy and Alice are alike only in their ages, gender, and that they are both the main character of children's fantasy novels that, for the most part, take place in fantasy worlds. Other than that, we have two very different little girls.

15 comments:

Oz RPG said...

I've actually developed the opinion that Dorothy is about 10-13 years old. The first growth spurt of puberty would allow her to be "well-grown for her age", as Baum puts it. It also helps make the Munchkins not to short, which allows the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman to be normal sized adults despite being of Munchkin manufacture.

And then there's Button-Bright. In "The Road to Oz", he is described as being 5 years younger than Dorothy. If she were 7, that would make him 2. If he were only that old, his repetition of the phrase "Don't know" would be an accomplishment. But if Dorothy is 10-13, then Button-Bright would be about 5-8, making it reasonable to expect he would know something and surprising when he doesn't.

Jared said...

Note that I said "many Oz fans place Dorothy around Alice's age," but in my own opinion, she was 8 at the time of "Wonderful Wizard." Her four (not counting her moving to Oz) visits to Oz happen during a three-year period, so she is eleven when she moves to Oz, and also eleven during "Road," which I place in the summer before they move to Oz. This would place Button-Bright at 6 or so. (However, he is about nine or ten when he decides to stay in Oz.)

Note that that is my own opinion.

Nathan said...

Actually, ROAD says that Button-Bright "seemed two or three years younger than Dorothy," not five years younger.

Oz RPG said...

I stand corrected on that one.

Jared said...

I just love it when my commentators can go off on fascinating tangents and get along...

Oz RPG said...

I checked my facts and he was right, so there's no argument.

Also, I know in one of the later stories that Ozma's apparent age is given as 13-14. Since Dorothy is considered a contemporary to Ozma, that supports the "Older Dorothy Theory." If he can find that reference, I would be most appreciative.

Jared said...

(It's easy to find that quote! Just use the Ozmatron! http://ozmatron.nonestica.com)

In "The Tin Woodman of Oz," it reads "To judge Ozma of Oz by the standards of our world, you would think her very young--perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age--yet for years she had ruled the Land of Oz and had never seemed a bit older. Dorothy appeared much younger than Ozma. She had been a little girl when first she came to the Land of Oz, and she was a little girl still and would never seem to be a day older while she lived in this wonderful fairyland."

So, Dorothy does seem to be younger. If my theory holds, the 11-year old argument does seem to work.

Oz RPG said...

I'm looking sillier and sillier by the minute here. Since Dorothy and Ozma are such good friends, it was easy to assume that they were very close to the same age. They may be fairly contemporary, but not as much as I thought.

Jared said...

No worries. We all look a little dumb sometimes. (You should check some of my earliest blogs and some of my earliest postings at the IWOC boards...)

Nathan said...

Well, when Dorothy first sees Ozma, she observes that "[t]he girl seemed neither older nor larger than Dorothy herself." Maybe Ozma aged a few years in between then and TIN WOODMAN.

Jared said...

(This is my most discussed blog entry ever!)

Huh... I guess the enchantment to stop aging in Oz was after "Ozma," but before "Emerald City," and was not as simple as "It happened when the true ruler was on the throne."

Apparently, important events of Oz history were not recorded...

Maybe to put the enchantment into effect, Ozma had to let herself age a bit, as there is no normal way she could have grown Dorothy's age (in my timeline, that is) to fourteen or fifteen in one year.

Nathan said...

Well, if you go with Thompson's idea that people can age if they want to, there's no problem with Ozma aging a few years.

Oz RPG said...

But since Dorothy spent at least some time in the outside world between OZMA and TIN WOODMAN, you'd think she'd have the age advantage.

Perhaps it could be related to Ozma's maturing as a ruler. When Dorothy first met her, she was rather new to the throne. By TIN WOODMAN, she had been ruling Oz for a good degree of time and probably gained some wisdom and maturity.

But Dorothy has probably chosen to hang on to her childhood as long as possible. And Ozma may be holding back her age in order to humor her friend. Otherwise, the demands of ruling Oz might have aged her into her 20's at least.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the 11 year old theory, I always considered her to be about 7-8 in the Wizard, maybe 9, and by the time she moves to Oz about 11-12 years old.

If you consider R.P.T.'s books as canon, then Dorothy would definitely be 11, since she claims Trot is 10, and in the Lost Princess of Oz, Baum states that Trot is a year younger than Dorothy, and two years younger than Betsy Bobbin.

I don't know if Baum ever had a set age in mind for his characters, and the illustrations always vary, Ozma seemed very young and cherubic at first, but by the end of Baum's books and in Thompsons, she seems to be a bit of a dream-teen glamour girl.

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