Sorting Hat Saturday: The Wizard of Oz

There are many adaptations of The Wizard of Oz with their own unique takes on the world and characters; however, for this, I’ll be focusing only on the original novel by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 movie from MGM. Many of the characters, especially Dorothy and the witches, would be three- or four-way hatstalls if I brought in every version of the story I know. However, I will be doing Wicked for next week’s Sorting Hat Saturday, so check back a week from now for more Oz-related sortings!

Dorothy: Hufflepuff/Gryffindor. Dorothy is by far the most complex character in the story, and while that makes her the most interesting, she is also the hardest to sort. I think book Dorothy might be a Hufflepuff; she is a sweet, practical little girl who loves her family and just wants to go home to them. In the movie, I’d say she’s more of a Gryffindor. She spends the early part of the movie dreaming of adventure and shows a lot more internal struggle between her love for her family and her desire to see the world beyond the dull sepia monotony of Kansas. She is certainly not lacking in bravery in either version, but movie Dorothy seems to crave adventure as much as her book counterpart longs for the safety of home.

Scarecrow: Ravenclaw. The Scarecrow travels to the Emerald City with Dorothy in hopes that the Wizard will give him a brain, but the truth is, he doesn’t need anyone’s help to be intelligent. Along the way, the Scarecrow is always the one who comes up with the clever plans, from chopping down a tree and using it as a bridge, to sneaking into the Wicked Witch’s castle. In the novel, he argues with the Tin Woodman over whether it’s better to have a brain or a heart, neither of them possessing either one; the ones they choose are strong indicators of what they value most.

Tin Man: Hufflepuff. Like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man (or the Tin Woodman, as he is called in the novel) is seeking something he already possesses. Although he is made of tin and does not have a literal heart, he has enough of a figurative one to cry when he so much as steps on a bug. He doesn’t seek courage, intelligence, or power; he wants nothing more than to be able to care for others, and defines himself by his kindness and compassion.

Lion: Gryffindor. Are you starting to see a pattern? The thing these characters are looking for is in fact already their greatest strength and their defining characteristic, and while the lion might seem like the exception to this, he’s not. He may not be a typical Gryffindor, but he does find courage when the situation calls for it.

The Wizard: Slytherin. The so-called “wizard” is a normal guy who fell from the sky in a new world and quickly rose to be in control of it by taking advantage of the people of Oz’s need for a hero and tricking them with stage magic. And while his characterization varies just as greatly as the others’ across different adaptations, I can’t think of a single version I wouldn’t sort there: whether he’s the tyrant of Wicked, the lovable scoundrel of Oz the Great and Powerful, or somewhere in between, as he is in the original story, there’s something very Slytherin about a man from Kansas convincing the world he’s a wizard and using it to make himself king.

The Witches: The witches in The Wizard of Oz are very flat characters; other adaptations, have given them more depth, but there’s very little in the original novel or the MGM movie to know what Hogwarts houses they would be in. If I had to guess, I’d put the Wicked Witch of the West in Slytherin (for her desire for to have the ruby/silver slippers and her ruthlessness about getting them), and the Good Witch of the North in Gryffindor (for her desire to help the munchkins, and the fact that she stands up against the wicked witches). The Good Witch of the South might be a Ravenclaw (for her wisdom and extensive knowledge of magic), and it’s really too hard to say what house the Wicked Witch of the East would have been in, given that she’s killed by a falling house the moment we meet her.