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Glinda (in full, Glinda the Good Witch of the South) is a fictional character in the Land of Oz created by Americanmarker author L. Frank Baum. She is the most powerful sorceress of Oz, ruler of the Quadling Country south of the Emerald City, and protector of Princess Ozma.

Literature

Baum's 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz refers to Glinda as the Good Witch of the South. Later books call her a "sorceress" rather than a "witch". Baum's writings make clear that he did not view witches as inherently wicked or in league with the Devil, so this change was probably meant to signal that Glinda's knowledge and command of magic surpassed that of a witch.

In the books, Glinda is depicted as a beautiful young woman with long, rich red hair and blue eyes, wearing a pure white dress. She is actually much older than her appearance would suggest, but "knows how to keep young in spite of the many years she has lived" - a fact that is established in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by the Soldier With Green Whiskers. She has ruled the Quadling Country ever since she overthrew the Wicked Witch of the South during the period when Ozma's grandfather was king of Oz.

She plays the most active role in finding and restoring Princess Ozma, the rightful heir, to the throne of Oz. This takes place in the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, although Glinda had been searching for Ozma ever since the princess disappeared as a baby. It may well be that she didn't overthrow the Wicked Witches of the East and West, despite being more powerful than them, because she wanted all of Oz to be unified under its rightful ruler, Ozma, first. After Ozma's ascent to the throne, Glinda continues to help the Queen of Oz to shape the future of the Land of Oz as a whole, no longer confining her powers to guarding her Quadling Kingdom in the South alone; but true to her character, Glinda doesn't interfere in affairs of State unless Ozma seeks her counsel or help specifically.

Besides a vast knowledge of magic, Glinda employs various tools, charms, and instruments in her workshop. The Emerald City of Oz reveals that she owns a Great Book of Records that allows her to track everything that goes on in the world from the instant it happens. Starting with The Road to Oz she trains the formerly humbug Wizard in magic; he becomes a formidable practitioner, but acknowledges that she is more powerful yet.

Glinda lives in a palace near the southern border of the Quadling Country, attended by one hundred beautiful maidens (twenty-five from each country of Oz). She also employs a large army of female soldiers, with which she takes on General Jinjur's Army of Revolt, who had conquered the Emerald City in The Marvelous Land of Oz. Men are not prominent in Glinda's court.

Glinda is strongly protective of her subjects in the South. She creates gated communities for the rabbits of Bunnybury and the paper dolls of Miss Cuttenclip, showing a personal interest in the concerns of not only the humanoid Quadlings, but also the other inhabitants of her jurisdiction.

In The Emerald City of Oz, when Ozma goes to consult Glinda about the security of her Ozian citizens, the Sorceress seals off all of Oz from the Great Outside World, making Oz invisible to the eyes of mortals flying overhead in airplanes and such. However, unlike Ozma, Glinda is willing to ignore strife and oppression in remote corners of Oz like Jinxland and the Skeezer territory as long as it does not threaten the Emerald City or innocent outsiders. The readers are left with the sense that Glinda is experienced and seasoned to the point of knowing that there isn't a magic cure for everything, and that certain things cannot be changed or perhaps should not be changed for better or for worse.

One of the more obscure facts about Glinda is that she created the Forbidden Fountain with the Waters of Oblivion, at the center of Oz, whose waters redeemed a former King of Oz who was exceptionally cruel. This happened "many centuries ago" according to Queen Ozma (again alluding to Glinda's advanced age), and it is this fountain that saves Oz from the invading Nome King and his allies in The Emerald City of Oz, by making them forget about their nefarious intentions. Glinda clearly made the Fountain at a point in Oz's history when the Land was unified under one of the members of the Royal Family of Oz, albeit a tyrannical king in this isolated incident, and so she was able to intervene in a way that she couldn't when the country was divided (among the Wizard and the Wicked Witches of the East and West et. al, prior to Dorothy's arrival).

Most intriguingly, in The Emerald City of Oz, when the Nome King considers invading Oz, he is told by a minion called General Guph that Glinda the Good's castle is located "at the north of the Emerald City", when it has been established that Glinda rules the South. This would have to be an instance of Guph getting his facts muddled up (which is more than possible seeing as how none of the Nomes have actually been to Oz themselves at this point in time), but it weirdly portends the depiction of Glinda as the Good Witch of the North rather than the South in the 1939 MGM film (which is the most widely known version of Oz to date).

General Guph also tells the Nome King that Glinda "commands the spirits of the air", but it is important to remember that Guph is not an authority on Oz (judging by his unfamiliarity with Ozian geography as highlighted above), so this may or may not be true. Yet, this statement made by Guph once again foreshadows a much later cinematic rendition of Glinda, in this case the film version of the Broadway musical The Wiz in which Glinda (played by Lena Horne) is responsible for the snowstorm that brings Dorothy's house to Oz and sets all subsequent events into motion.

Of all the characters in L. Frank Baum's Oz, it might be said that Glinda is the most enigmatic. Despite being titled "Glinda the Good", she is the farthest thing from a one-dimensional caricature whole sole purpose is to embody and generate all that is generically considered "good", as indicated above.

She ultimately becomes the adult anchor in the Oz books, because she is never distracted or swayed, and always maintains absolute firmness of purpose - something that cannot be said for the other adult characters in the series such as the Wizard and the Shaggy Man or even the Good Witch of the North. They all fall short of Glinda's wisdom and resoluteness.

Wicked (novel)

In Gregory Maguire's 1995 revisionist novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which is not a part of the original/official canon of Oz books by any stretch of the imagination, she is initially called "Galinda", and (through her mother) is descended from the noble clan of the Arduennas of the Upland. Her character is seen extensively in the first half of the novel, but disappears for most of the second half, compared to her musical countpart. Though originally snobbish and superficial, she is also intelligent enough to be accepted to Shiz University's Crage Hall, where she is forced to share a room with Elphaba. After a long period of mutual loathing, the two girls later become close friends. Galinda drops the first 'a' in her name in the middle of the story, in tribute to Doctor Dillamond, a martyred Goat who teaches at Shiz (Dillamond made the habitual mistake of calling her "Glinda" instead of "Galinda" while they shared a carriage, before her arrival to the University). The Goat's death also prompts Glinda to re-evaluate her life, and she dedicates herself to studying sorcery, at which she proves to be quite skilled. It is stated that she marries Sir Chuffrey in the second half of the novel and they have no children. She initially dislikes Elphaba's sister Nessarose (who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the East), but becomes close to her after Elphaba leaves Shiz, and enchants the Silver Shoes that enable Nessarose to walk without any assistance. As in the original Oz books, she is revered as a powerful sorceress, but she admits that her magic is nowhere near as great as Elphaba's, in direct opposition with L. Frank Baum's original books in which Glinda is described as being more powerful than "all the Witches" in Oz. Maguire follows the 1939 movie in having Glinda ultimately become the Witch of the North, not the South. Glinda also appears in Son of a Witch, Maguire's sequel to Wicked, now widowed from Sir Chuffrey.

Films

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz, Glinda is the Good Witch of the North, not the South. She is played in the film by Billie Burke. Glinda performs the functions of not only the novel's Good Witch of the North and Good Witch of the South, but also the novel's Queen of Field Mice, by being the one who welcomes Dorothy to Oz, sends her "off to see the Wizard", and orchestrates her rescue from the deadly poppy field in addition to revealing the secret to going back home.

Combining L. Frank Baum's original good witches of the North and of the South in the character of Glinda seems to be an attempt to make Baum's original story more compact, as befits an MGM film musical. A single good witch and a single wicked witch allows for more cohesive and cogent storytelling in a family-entertainment movie that is just over 100 minutes long.

Two good witches would have been superfluous at best, and would not have contributed to the drama and to Dorothy's personal journey and character growth specifically in any meaningful way, which is what the filmmakers were interested in primarily to begin with. Whereas in an epic novel like Baum's original, in which Oz is not a dream representing Dorothy's unsolved inner conflicts but rather an actual country in which Dorothy is trapped for an extended period of real time, having two good witches is dramatically effective.

It must be stressed, however, that even in Baum's original Oz book series, Glinda practically becomes the only "good witch" in Oz of any consequence. The older-looking Good Witch of the North makes her only speaking appearance towards the beginning of Baum's first book, re-appearing only as one of the numerous guests at Ozma's birthday celebrations in the fifth book, after which she is never even mentioned again until much later books written by Ruth Plumly Thompson after Baum's death. From the 7th book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz onwards, Baum goes so far as to say that "Glinda and the Wizard" are the "only" ones authorised to practise magic in Oz by Queen Ozma, almost leading the readers to believe that he forgot about the Good Witch of the North altogether, if he didn't deliberately write her character out of his series.

Thus, it might be said that Glinda evolved into the virtually all-knowing and single prominent "good" sorceress in founder L. Frank Baum's version of Oz, long before she was portrayed that way in the 1939 MGM film; although Baum's exceedingly refined and no-nonsense type Glinda was the farthest cry from the quirky and bubbly Glinda embodied by Billie Burke in the movie musical.

What's most interesting about the MGM movie incarnation of the "Good Witch" is that she knew but withheld the truth about the Magic Shoes from Dorothy at the beginning, in order to facilitate her psychological and emotional maturity, suggesting that Billie Burke's Glinda is not nearly as bubble-brained as she appears to be at first glance, and that her ditzy persona conceals her true depth and adult wisdom.

She is the primary Oz character not to have a counterpart in the sepia-tones of Kansas, suggesting that she might represent the untapped powers of beauty and wisdom in young Dorothy.

In the original novel, of course, the unnamed Good Witch of the North genuinely believed that the Wizard of Oz was the only entity powerful enough to send Dorothy back home to Kansas, while Glinda the Good Witch (later 'Sorceress') of the South does not claim to be in the know of everything until the sixth book, The Emerald City of Oz, by which point in time she creates The Great Book of Records which chronicles everything that takes place inside as well as outside Oz.

Other films

In The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908), Evelyn Judson played Glinda. She may have been played by Olive Cox in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910). In the latter, she appears in one scene in which enlarges Toto to make him a better protector for Dorothy. She does not appear in any of the productions of The Oz Film Manufacturing Company nor the 1925 silent film.

In The Wonderful Land of Oz, Glinda is played by Hilary Lee Gaess. She is portrayed as much younger than the Billie Burke incarnation, although her pink costume/gown is similar, and sings 2 stirring solos titled "Try To Touch a Star" and "I've Watched Over You". Hilary Lee Gaess is outstanding at retaining Glinda's proverbial sweetness alongside the character's unrivalled authority. She is portrayed as being able to summon the powers of "all the good fairies" when restoring Princess Ozma to her rightful form, almost making her equal to L. Frank Baum's Queen Lurline, whereas in the original books, she is always a stately sorceress showing no association with fairy magic or witchcraft, insisting that the witch Mombi herself disenchant Ozma unlike in this film. Apart from undoing Mombi's evil magic herself, this incarnation of Glinda also tells the old Gillikin witch that she has "allowed" her to practise some of her "less horrible tricks" thus far, suggesting that every practitioner of magic in Oz is ultimately answerable to Glinda should they go too far.

In Journey Back to Oz, Risë Stevens provides the voice of "Glinda, the Good Fairy" as she is described in the opening title sequence. In L. Frank Baum's novel, The Lost Princess of Oz, the Wizard says: "Ozma is a fairy, and so is Glinda, so no power can kill or destroy them, but you girls are all mortals and so are Button-Bright and I, so we must watch out for ourselves." However, the only fact established by this statement is that Glinda is one of Oz's "fairy people" (L. Frank Baum's term for anyone native to an enchanted land) rather than a Fairy proper. Even the citizens of Oz who do not possess magical powers are referred to as "fairy people" by Baum in The Emerald City of Oz, meaning that they are not mortals like Dorothy and the Wizard who were born in the outside world. In this film, the Filmation artists don't portray Glinda as a conventional fairy, despite referring to her as literally a fairy in the credits, although it is revealed that this Glinda's magic is no match for Mombi's magic - whereas the exact opposite was true in Baum's original books. She sings a climactic song called "You Have Only You" to Dorothy, making her look inside herself for the strength that is not forthcoming from old companions such as the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. In this regard, Glinda reveals how in touch she is with stark reality, a trait that hearkens back to Baum's original Glinda.

In The Wizard of Oz (1982), Glinda, looking very young and with long blonde hair, voiced by Wendy Thatcher, claims to be the sister of the Good Witch of the North despite the appearance of quite a large age gap (Baum did always say she is much older than she looks), and appears in the Emerald City in a similar deus ex machina to the MGM film.

In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Glinda is the Good Witch of the South and is played by Miss Piggy, as are her sisters the Good Witch of the North and the two Wicked Witches. In keeping with the traditions of Muppet films, she is attracted to the Scarecrow (played by Kermit the Frog), but her role is otherwise unchanged.

Musicals

The Wiz

In the Broadway musical The Wiz, Glinda is the Good Witch of the South, as she appears in the Oz books. She appears only once at the end of the musical, but traditionally the same actress who plays Glinda also plays Aunt Em. She is the sister of Addaperle (Miss One), Evilene, and Evermean, the other three witches of Oz. In the film version, she is played by Lena Horne, and she causes the snowstorm that brings Dorothy to Oz.

Wicked

In the novel's Broadway musicalmarker adaptation Wicked, Glinda (originally played by Kristin Chenoweth) is one of the two female leads as the musical focuses on her love/hate relationship with Elphaba (the young woman who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West). As in Gregory Maguire's revisionist novel, Glinda is characterized by her popularity and ambition and goes by the name of Galinda Upland (who hails from the Upper Uplands). She is described as "blonde" in every way, whereas Baum's original Glinda as well as Billie Burke's Glinda in the 1939 MGM movie (which dictated the visual look as well as the overall feel and flavour of this stage musical) had red hair. This is because composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz tailor-made this version of Glinda for actress/singer Kristin Chenoweth specifically.When Elphaba decides to rebel against the Wizard, she offers Glinda the chance to join her crusade, but Glinda prefers to play it safe and moreover explore her political opportunities with the Wizard, ultimately sealing her destiny to become "Glinda the Good." The love triangle between Glinda, Fiyero and Elphaba is what primarily distinguishes the "Wicked" musical incarnation of Glinda from Gregory Maguire's novel. Galinda and the "scandalacious" Winkie Prince Fiyero gravitate towards each other as birds of a feather, but while Glinda convinces everyone that the two of them are in love, Fiyero re-evaluates his priorities and becomes increasingly drawn to Glinda's now best friend Elphaba.

Most significantly, the musical's Glinda unwittingly sets into motion the events that lead to the Munchkin Boq becoming the Tin Woodman (which only happens in this musical), and Elphaba's sister Nessarose (dubbed "The Wicked Witch of the East) being killed by Dorothy's farmhouse. Boq was an unwanted but ardent suitor that Glinda conveniently foisted upon Nessarose, the Munchkin Governor's daughter, who became so attached to him that she stripped all the Munchkins of their rights just to keep Boq with her (thus earning the title "Wicked Witch of the East"); Boq was transformed into the Tin Woodman when Elphaba attempted to correct a Grimmerie spell-book charm that was miscast by Nessarose (who wanted to claim the "heart" he "lost" to Glinda). Not long after, Glinda was so adamant to bring Elphaba and Fiyero to justice for running away together, that she suggested to the Wizard and Madam Morrible that they spread a rumour about Nessarose being in danger to lure Elphaba out of hiding. The Wizard and Madam Morrible took Glinda's suggestion to its most extreme level, with Morrible creating the cyclone that brought Dorothy's house to Oz and crushed Nessarose to death.

Glinda eventually comes to understand that Elphaba and Fiyero "deserve each other" in the most positive sense of the term. She tries to avenge Elphaba's supposed death by threatening to expose the Wizard as a fraud unless he leaves Oz altogether. Having thrown the fiendish Madam Morrible in jail, Glinda follows in Elphaba's footsteps, trying to fix all the damage that has been caused in Oz over the past few decades, and hoping to truly earn her title as 'Glinda the Good' among the people.

Actresses beside Chenoweth to play Glinda in Wicked include Jennifer Laura Thompson, Megan Hilty, Kate Reinders, Kendra Kassebaum, Annaleigh Ashford, Alli Mauzey, Erin Mackey, Helen Dallimore, Katie Rose Clarke, Kate Fahrner, Chandra Lee Schwartz, Dianne Pilkington and Lucy Durack most recently in Sydney Australia 2009.

References

  1. Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, p 104, ISBN 0-7006-0832-X



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