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The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars

The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

Two of the most popular films of the 20th century are The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Star Wars (1977).  From a cultural standpoint, the films have striking similarities in the following:

  • The hero quest
  • The cultural landscape that transforms the hero/heroine
  • The companions that accompany the hero/heroine, among other concepts. 

In comparing the structures of these two films, one can see that the cultural constructions of American reality are consistent throughout the 20th century.

The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars

Heros in Both Films

Both films center around a single hero/heroine.  As everyone knows, it is Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.  Both are young, somewhere in the unidentified later teen/early adult years.  Both live on their family farms; Dorothy in a traditional Kansas farm, Luke on a moisture farm on the desert planet of Tatooine.  Both live with parental figures that are not their biological parents, (Uncle Henry and Auntie Em for Dorothy; Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru for Luke), although the circumstances leading to this arrangement is never elaborated upon.  These locales are established as “home,” and although the main character has a desire to leave home, and experience a wider world, concern for the place of safety and a realization that obligations are greater than desires.

Both Dorothy and Luke experience an outside force that drives them from their homes.  In Dorothy’s case, it is natural (the tornado); in Luke’s case it is mechanical (the arrival of the druids).  In both cases, the catalyst for this change provides the hero with his or her main companion(s) for the quest that is thrust upon them.  These first companions (Toto, & R2-D2) are “familiars,” creatures who cannot communicate directly with the hero/heroine, but serve to guide them into their initial journey.  Both Toto and R2-D2 run away, forcing Dorothy and Luke to leave home.  Once the safety of home is left, their circumstances are altered beyond hope of returning.

From the earliest human sagas, no epic quest was undertaken alone. Gilgamesh had Ekindu, Moses had Aaron, and Jason had the Argonauts.  Companions are a vital part to the structure of the hero quest, providing support to the hero, strength in numbers, and providing additional skills that the hero does not himself possess.  Dorothy’s quest is to find the Wizard and return home.  She meets three companions along the journey, making a quest party of five (Dorothy, Toto, The Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion).

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