The American History Museum has such a vast collection of important artifacts, from the batmobile to first ladies’ dresses the collection covers all parts of America. Most objects in the museum support the idea of an American myth in some way. However, there is no artifact that exemplifies these ideas more than Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Hollywood blockbuster, The Wizard of Oz. It is easy to overlook the slippers as just an item that was used in a hit film. However, these slippers symbolize much more than people think.
The story of the ruby slippers in the film goes like this. The slippers were first worn by the wicked witch of the East before Dorthy’s house killed the witch and Dorothy took the magical slippers and wore them throughout the movie. In the film, the slippers were highly sought after by the evil witch of the West. The main use of the slippers in the film though were to magically bring Dorothy back to her home, Kansas. This is the first way the slippers are related to the American myth, Dorothy was in Oz and wanted to get back to America.
When The Wizard of Oz was filmed and originally released America was coming out of the Great Depression, and that is when the film took place.When the film released the question would have been asked such as. Why would anyone want to give up living in a world like Oz to have to face tough times in America? According to Chernus, a “myth gives the people who accept it a way to cope with the difficulties of life.” During the Great Depression living in America was nothing but difficult. People were not optimistic about the future and they had no hope. When Dorothy wished to be brought back to America with the opportunity to leave forever she showed the audience that America could get through by trusting in the government and having faith in the economy. Even though there were many difficulties in US life during the 1930s the fact that a little girl like Dorothy was not scared would have been uplifting to people during that time.
The character Dorothy can be seen as a pioneer woman, a character archetype that can be found in many American myths. Brown claims that archetypes “liberate characters and readers from outdated politics and injustices.” And these help point to the root of our national creation. The use of Dorothy with her ruby slippers as a pioneer woman is important in showing the audience the “American Dream” that is important in the American myth and the idea that you can be anything that you want to be in America.
Dorothy’s slippers first represent a character that is seen as a pioneer. The slippers also represent a story that values nice behavior and love, intelligence and courage. All these ideas from the movie are important in the idea of the American myth. It is easy to overlook the slippers as just a prop in a hit film. But these slippers mean much more in the history of America.