The Heroine’s Journey
“Anybody who has swallowed the scriptwriters’ notion that The Wizard of Oz is about the superiority of “home” over “away,” that the “moral” of the film is as sickly-sweet as an embroidered sampler—“East, West, home’s best”—would do well to listen to the yearning in Judy Garland’s voice as her face tilts up toward the skies. What she expresses here, what she embodies with the purity of an archetype, is the human dream of leaving, a dream at least as powerful as its countervailing dream of roots. At the heart of The Wizard of Oz is the tension between these two dreams; but as the music swells and that big, clean voice flies into the anguished longings of the song, can anyone doubt which message is the stronger? In its most potent emotional moment, this is unarguably a film about the joys of going away, of leaving the grayness and entering the color, of making a new life in the “place where there isn’t any trouble.” “Over the Rainbow” is, or ought to be, the anthem of all the world’s migrants, all those who go in search of the place where “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” It is a celebration of Escape, a grand paean to the uprooted self, a hymn—the hymn—to Elsewhere.” – Salman Rushdie, Out of Kansas
Of course “there’s no place like home” it isn’t only a screenwriter’s notion, and it ought to be fairly clear to any reader or viewer that Dorothy couldn’t have one (home) without the other (adventure). But Oz is hardly a place “where there isn’t any trouble” in fact there’s more than a little bit of trouble in the offing – it’s the nature of the trouble that will interest us in The Heroine’s Journey, and the nature of the joys that accompany it.
Hat tip to Claire Epstein