Several years ago when I started thinking about developing an online course on the Hero's Journey, I told a friend I would really like to do it as a story -- and he suggested I consider using the Wizard of Oz.
As soon as I read the book that L. Frank Baum wrote in 1900, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. There were many more obstacles in the book than in the movie, so I could use all the obstacles in the book to help us see the heroic nature of the wonderful characters who thought they weren't smart, or didn't have courage, or had no heart.
Dorothy and her friends encounter an enormous number of obstacles on the way to Oz (remember, we are using the book, in addition to the movie version). And then they have to overcome even more obstacles after the Wizard tells them they must find and kill the Wicked Witch before he will help them. They encounter this first obstacle shortly after they set out to find the wicked witch.
Here Dorthy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion are being chased by the beastly Kalidahs, who are fearsome creatures with the head and back legs of a tiger and the arms, torso, and feet of a bear. Their claws are known to rip a lion in half! This story shows us quite a bit about how our heroes respond quite differently from the way they see themselves.
1. The kalidahs are hot on their trail, and then the group comes to a wide ditch they cannot cross. To solve the problem, Lion (who has no courage) jumps across the ditch, carrying each of them one at a time on his back.
2. Next they encounter an even wider ditch, too wide for Lion to jump. So Scarecrow (who has no brain) suggests to Tinman (who has no heart) that he chop down a tree to fall across this ditch so they can all cross.
3. But then the beastly Kalidahs start to follow them across the tree bridge. Scarecrow (again, no brain) asks the Tinman (again, no heart) to chop off the end of the tree on their side and the bridge falls, taking the snarling brutes with it down into the deep gulch.
The Hero's Journey course has been in development much longer than I planned, due to several serious personal setbacks, but now we are almost there. I'll be posting updates during the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few things people discovered about themselves during our three beta tests. The characters in the Wizard of Oz are great teachers.