Frank Baum’s novel ”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was published in 1900 and immediately became one of the most beloved children’s books in the United States. The Library of Congress declared it as “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”
In 1902, the novel was adapted into an acclaimed Broadway musical, and the 1939 film adaptation caused it to appear in children’s libraries all across the world.
The narrative of the novel follows a young farm girl from Kansas named Dorothy and her pet dog Toto as they enter the magical Land of Oz after being swept away by a powerful cyclone. Dorothy and Toto meet many magical characters and seek help from the powerful Wizard of Oz to destroy the evil Wicked Witch of the West.
The novel’s instant success urged Baum to write a series of sequels to the original, and all theater and film adaptations of the story incorporated elements from several books. Therefore, today’s mystical and benign popular version of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a censored mash-up of several works.
However, the original novel wasn’t benign at all, as it prominently featured scenes of graphic violence and killing. At one point in the original novel, the Wicked Witch of the West sends a pack of wolves to attack Dorothy and her fellow travelers, and the Tin Woodman prevents the wolves from tearing everyone apart by slaughtering them with an ax.
The Wicked Witch later sends her fierce wild crows to gouge out the eyes of the traveling fellowship, but the crows are stopped by Scarecrow who viciously kills them by breaking their necks with his straw hands. Furthermore, the Cowardly Lion becomes an example of terrifying vigilante justice when he kills a giant spider that terrorized the animals of the forest.
The Wicked Witch herself dies in a horrible way when Dorothy splashes her with a bucket of water. She melts away and turns into an amorphous puddle of muddy substance beneath Dorothy’s silver shoes.
Although Dorothy’s famous shoes are made of ruby in all adaptations of the novel, the original novel features her wearing shiny silver shoes.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” deserves its praise because of its creative magical setting and a plot that urges children to explore their own imagination, but the original version of the novel might appear frightening and even downright brutal: the kill count of Dorothy and her fellow travelers includes almost a hundred animals.