Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Characters of Oz — Blinkie

There were, at one time, many wicked witches in the land of Oz. Some seem to have been more wicked and more powerful than others. It seems, though, that Glinda and the Good Witch of the North put them away or stripped them of their power. The worst were defeated when Dorothy arrived in Oz.

So the question that arises is what's up with Blinkie?

Blinkie appears to be a small-time Wicked Witch who lives in Jinxland and terrorizes the populace with at least three anonymous witches who can turn into beautiful maidens when performing witchcraft. Blinkie's three friends can also fly on broomsticks. Blinkie may act on her own or be hired to do a job.

Blinkie is missing an eye, wearing an eyepatch. This similarity had caused some fans to think she may be a revived or reconstituted Wicked Witch of the West. I personally don't think so as there is little connection aside from that. Perhaps trading in an eye can get a Witch special powers.

Blinkie is actually based on an amalgamation of the Wicked Witch of the West and Mombi from Baum's 1914 film His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. The witch in that film was named Mombi but looked like Denslow's Wicked Witch of the West. Like the Wicked Witch, she enslaved Dorothy to do chores for her, and like Mombi, pursues Dorothy when she runs away. Her fate, however, is entirely original to the film. The Tin Woodman chops her head off and the Wizard traps her in a can and shrinks it. At the end, she appears to be let go after she restores her victims from earlier in the film.

Blinkie was asked by King Krewl to freeze the heart of Princess Gloria so she wouldn't love Pon the gardener's boy. She did so, and also turned Cap'n Bill into a grasshopper with a wooden leg. For this, the Scarecrow punishes her by shrinking her to a tiny size and taking away her powers once she restores her victims.

To be honest, Baum could have replaced Blinkie with Mombi (having brushed up on witchcraft again) if he had been so inclined. However, he let his former villain remain the villain of only one book.

This leaves me with a question: why didn't Glinda do something about Blinkie? In The Scarecrow of Oz, it seems clear that Glinda has known about Blinkie's activities for a while and only sends the Scarecrow to take care of her when Blinkie begins to abuse people from the outside world. In books outside the Famous Forty (but generally considered canonical), Glinda seems to have put two Wicked Witches in the Quadling Country into enchanted sleeps in The Wicked Witch of Oz by Rachel Cosgrove Payes and The Enchanted Apples of Oz by Eric Shanower. Why is Glinda vigilant about these witches but not Blinkie? Why doesn't she go to  Jinxland herself?

Thinking about this, one idea comes up. Maybe Glinda can't go to Jinxland. Or rather, she's not welcome there. Is King Krewl the first king of Jinxland to value Blinkie's services? Perhaps Glinda did try and was forbidden to go back to Jinxland. She makes it clear that by this, she washes her hands of anything that may happen to the people of Jinxland. As pointed out, she only seems to send the Scarecrow once people from outside Jinxland are involved.

Why do you think?

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