Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Characters of Oz — The Emerald City Staff


Finally, Dorothy reached the Emerald City, she was allowed in to see the Wizard with her friends. And in her stay in the Emerald City, she met three people who would become staples throughout the Oz series.

First was the Guardian of the Gates. While he never got a name in the Famous Forty Oz books, Alexander Volkov called him Faramant, but again, that's not canonical.

The Guardian of the Gates would keep watch on who was entering the Emerald City. During the Wizard's reign, I can imagine this was actually quite an important job, more important than even the Guardian knew. He also had to lock on the green spectacles that made the Emerald City appear to be green, helping keep the Wizard's charade up and the Wicked Witches out.

If the Guardian was privy to the Wizard's great secret, he never spilled the beans, even after the Wizard left Oz.

After Ozma took the throne, the Guardian's role seems to be less important, being just a formality. A comics story in Oz-Story Magazine 1 shows him having to turn some people away from the Emerald City so it doesn't become crowded. The Road to Oz mentions that he wears the Green Spectacles still, but they seem to have fallen out of fashion at the time. (I theorize that extensive renovations were done to the Emerald City when Ozma took the throne.)

Another person that Dorothy met was a little green girl who worked in the palace. While she was never named in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a green girl who works in the palace in The Marvelous Land of Oz was named Jellia Jamb, and Oz fans assume that the two girls are one and the same.

Jellia served the Wizard, the Scarecrow and Ozma faithfully. And in Oz, being the Palace Housekeeper is quite the distinguished role.

However, Jellia has a mischievous streak that we learn about just after her name: a memorable scene in The Marvelous Land of Oz features Jack Pumpkinhead believing that Gillikins speak a different language than that of the Emerald City. Telling the Scarecrow this, Jellia is sent for to interpret. (Jellia reveals here that she is a Gillikin by birth.) She pretends that they are making unkind statements until the Scarecrow realizes that she's pulling their legs.

Later in The Marvelous Land of Oz, she is made to switch forms with Mombi to trick Glinda, a ruse Glinda sees through.

In the later books, Jellia's job is to make sure the palace stays clean and organized, and she does a fine job of it as well.

In Ozoplaning With The Wizard of Oz (Thompson's last Famous Forty book), Jellia is aboard the runaway Ozoplane the Oztober and is later offered the position of Starina, queen of Stratovania. After assisting as she can as the Oz people head back to earth, she refuses the offer.

In The Wonder City of Oz, Jellia's mouth is accidentally sewn closed, and Ozma is unable to undo it, so she makes Jellia able to talk out of her ears and not need to eat until the stitches come undone. Jenny Jump is able to set Jellia to rights, earning Jellia's vote in the Ozlection. (However, as Neill doesn't illustrate any of Jellia's plight here, it is entirely possible that it was the work of the infamous editor.)

Sometimes I wonder if Jellia knew the Wizard's secret. She worked in the palace all that time and she probably brought him his food and washed his laundry, plus—even though the Oz books never mention this activity—he would need to use the bathroom sometime. Of all the people in the Emerald City, it seems that she would be the safest person for the Wizard to confide in.

Before we get to the biggest character, I feel I should make mention of Tollydiggle, the Emerald City's jailer. She does not appear in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but rather only in The Patchwork Girl of Oz (and also in Edward Einhorn's The Living House of Oz, though that is outside of the Famous Forty).

Tollydiggle runs a unique jail: there are no locks or bars, and it is actually quite a comfortable place. The reasoning is that reformation will happen faster and better with kindness rather than cruelty. It's bad enough that the prisoner must be excluded from their friends and society.

In the Famous Forty, she gets one prisoner: Ojo. Not only is he given a choice between two delicious dinners, but he plays games with Tollydiggle and she reads him a story.

 The final character that Dorothy met in the Emerald City on her first visit is the Soldier With The Green Whiskers. Unusual for Baum, this fellow got a surprisingly consistent story arc in the first six books.

The Emerald City has rarely needed more than this one green-bearded soldier for protection. When the Wizard ruled, people were afraid of him, so just one soldier was needed for formality's sake.

When the Scarecrow took the throne, no other soldiers were added, but he was no match for the Army of Revolt in The Marvelous Land of Oz. When the Scarecrow prepares to flee, the soldier says that he will cut off his green beard to disguise himself.

And in Ozma of Oz, sure enough, he appears without his green beard! He is now the sole private of Ozma's army of many officers rather than being the sole Army. However, even though he isn't much of a fighter, he manages to fight many of the Nomes bravely. At the story's close, Ozma discovers that his name is Omby Amby and she promotes him to captain general of all her armies.

Later, Omby Amby accompanies Dorothy and her family on their tour around Oz in The Emerald City of Oz. By the time of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, his beard has grown back.

In Thompson's Ozoplaning With The Wizard of Oz, Omby suddenly has the name Wantowin Battles. It's been noted that perhaps the name was an invention of the same infamous editor who worked on The Wonder City of Oz, who finished Thompson's book in time for publication. But if it was Thompson's invention, then it must be remembered that Omby's name hadn't been mentioned much (if at all) since The Emerald City of Oz and never in her own books. Thus, most fans chalk this up to a Historian's error rather than working out how Omby Amby has two names.

Another case of "Historian's error" occurs in The Magical Mimics in Oz when Omby Amby suddenly has the post of Guardian of the Gates and the Army of Oz. Quite a gaffe, Mr. Snow.

The Marvelous Land of Oz has Jinjur mention that Omby Amby is "old and feeble" and that his wife has a terrible temper. Whoever Omby Amby's wife was, we have never seen her.

4 comments:

Nathan said...

I believe an early version of the script for the stage play called the Guardian Private Gruph, and at least one Buckethead book gives his name as Imby Amby and says he's the Soldier's brother.

At the beginning of the eighth paragraph, you wrote "Jinjur" when you obviously meant Jellia. And one of the Snow books (I think it's Magical Mimics) says Omby Amby is married to Tollydiggle. If this is true, it's not clear whether she's the hen-pecking wife Jinjur mentioned (maybe she's different in private?) or he's been married more than once.

Sam A M said...

You have to wonder about the Guardian of the Gates, though: ONE Guardian for the GateS, note plural, as in a gate for each country's corner of Oz.
Now either the Gate Guardian is some fairy or magic folk (and nobody knows it) who can be at the right gate whenever somebody arrives at whichever one of teh four gates (D & Friends from East-then West, Jack + Sawhorse & Army of Revolt from North, D & Friends again from West in "Road") ... or the Gate/Wall is somehow mechanized to revolve to the appropriate corner . . . or there's actually 4 Gate Guardians and they pretend to be one!

Ona less confusing matter is Jellia's age: if only Baum thought to say whether she was older, younger or between the age of Dorothy or Ozma.

And there ought to be a secret passage for Omby Amby to use should he need to get from Palace to Gate (or vice versa) in a hurry without having to go through the whole city streets (like when the Army of Revolt arrives and captures the GG).

A new anime could certainly use these points as interesting story key designs!

Jared said...

I think the idea is that there's one location of the gates.

Nathan said...

That might have been the original intention, but Patchwork Girl specifically mentions four gates.