|Plot element from the Land of Oz series of prose fiction|
|First appearance||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)|
|Created by||L. Frank Baum|
|Genre||Classic children's books, American fantasy|
|Type||Enchanted silver footwear with pointed toes|
|Function||Able to grant wishes by teleporting the wearer wherever they wish to go|
The Silver Shoes are the mysteriously charmed footwear that appear in L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). The shoes were originally owned by the malevolent Wicked Witch of the East who resided in the Land of Oz. However, they were passed down to the novel's adolescent protagonist Dorothy Gale when she accidentally killed the Wicked Witch upon her unexpected arrival to Oz, thus rightfully becoming her property. As gathered from the clues throughout the various books and films, the Silver Shoes will only magically alter their size to fit the current wearer if they have physically defeated the previous owner, or if the owner willingly hands the pair over.
- 1 Appearances in Books
- 2 Appearances in film
- 3 Appearances in television
- 4 Appearances in other media
- 5 References
Appearances in Books
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The following is an excerpt from the second chapter of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which the silver shoes are first mentioned:
..."Dorothy looked, and gave a little cry of fright. There, indeed, just under the corner of the great beam the house rested on, two feet were sticking out, shod in Silver Shoes with pointed toes."
The silver shoes were originally the property and prized possession of the Wicked Witch of the East who used its power to conquer Oz's eastern quadrant called Munchkin Country and enslave the native Munchkins. She kept them tightly in her bondage for a number of decades, mercilessly forcing them to work very hard for her night and day. How the witch constructed or obtained the silver shoes is never elaborated upon by Baum. When Dorothy and her pet dog Toto, were swept away from Kansas in their farmhouse by a cyclone, the storm dropped the house on the Wicked Witch, killing her instantly.
Thinking her to be some sorceress of sorts, the silver shoes were then given to Dorothy by the freed Munchkins and their dear friend the Good Witch of the North. They inform Dorothy about the mysterious pair but admit that — "there is some charm connected with them; but what it is we never knew." Later in the story when Dorothy is captured by the Wicked Witch of the West and imprisoned in her castle, the witch immediately notices the silver shoes upon the little girl's feet. Knowing the shoes hold great magic within them, she plots a scheme to steal them from Dorothy, thus acquiring even more power. If the silver shoes have any other powers they are never outlined in the books, however the witch of the west was obsessed with obtaining them, as they would give her much greater power than any other thing she possessed, suggesting the shoes hold immense magic.
The Wicked Witch eventually succeeds in getting a hold of one shoe by setting a trap for Dorothy, making the girl trip over an invisible iron bar she places upon the kitchen floor. However, the plan backfires when an angry Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch in retaliation for being tricked by hurling a bucket of water at her when she refuses to give Dorothy the shoe back. Allergic to water, the witch quickly melts away and dies, allowing Dorothy to retrieve the shoe. In the final chapters of the book, Glinda, the beautiful Good Witch of the South kindly explains to Dorothy how the charm works, saying the shoes can teleport the wearer anywhere in the entire world by simply knocking the heels together exactly three solid times and announcing to be carried to their desired destination — "Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," replied Glinda. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country. The Silver Shoes have wonderful powers. And one of the most curious things about them is that they can carry you to any place in the world in three steps, and each step will be made in the wink of an eye. All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go."
After saying goodbye to her friends, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy closes her eyes and does as she was instructed — "Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying: "Take me home to Aunt Em!
Dorothy is instantly lifted into the air and the silver shoes then take three steps (each step is made within the wink of an eye). When Dorothy opens her eyes again seconds later, she discovers she and Toto are safely back in Kansas. Upon her return, she finds she is in her bare stocking feet, the shoes having fallen off between worlds during the magical flight back. Baum states that the silver shoes are never recovered and remain lost in an uncharted desert forever.
- Though they are mentioned several times in sequels, the silver shoes never appear again in Baum's original Oz books.
The Wizard of the Emerald City
In Alexander Melentyevich Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939), the ruby red shoes, as they are called in the manuscript, are the source of Elly's (his version of Dorothy) protection instead of the good Witch's kiss. She is therefore attacked once by an Ogre when removing them, and afterward wears them even when she sleeps. They are not taken from the Witch's body, but rather brought by Toto from her dwelling (a dark cave). This was possibly done to avert the problem of a person wearing the shoes to be impossible to harm, since in that book the hurricane is created by the Wicked Witch to destroy mankind, and redirected upon her by the Good Witch of the North, who suffers no ill effects for harming her. It is said the Witch only wore the shoes on very special occasions. They are lost just like in Baum's book.
Dorothy of Oz
In Roger S. Baum's Dorothy of Oz (1989), Glinda the Good recovers the silver shoes in the desert and presents them to Dorothy through a rainbow in Kansas. The harsh climate of the desert they were lost in, has greatly weakened their charm, as they only have enough power remaining in them that Dorothy can travel once more to Oz and back to Kansas.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
In Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995), the silver shoes are a gift to Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East) before she and her sister, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) start college. They are made by her father using special glass beads another man (Turtleheart, possibly her biological father) taught him to make, which make the shoes appear silver or ruby depending on the light. They are enchanted by Glinda (the Good Witch of the North) to give her the necessary balance to walk. In the Broadway musical adaption of the book, Elphaba is the one who enchants the shoes. Her spell makes the silver shoes burn red hot, turning them into the ruby slippers.
In 2009's Silver Shoes by Paul Miles Schneider, eleven-year-old Donald Gardner is driving across Kansas with his parents when he finds himself in possession of one of the lost Silver Shoes worn by Dorothy when she was magically transported back to Kansas from Oz. A chase begins, involving supernatural creatures, secret agents, and mysterious parties from both worlds. All of them have been searching for the shoes ever since famed author L. Frank Baum first leaked confidential information about the existence of Oz to the public in the form of a children's book. Donald and his family join forces with George Clarke, a middle-aged man on the run since childhood, who fifty-two years earlier had discovered the other Silver Shoe. Silver Shoes was selected as a Kansas Notable Book in 2010 by the Kansas Center for the Book and the State Library of Kansas.
Appearances in film
Wizard of Oz (1925 film)
The shoes were absent from the 1925 movie.
The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
In the 1939 movie the shoes served the same purpose as in the book but were changed to red by its screenwriter Noel Langley. In fact, he gave a notably different appearance than in Denslow's illustrations. This movie proves that the shoes are magically protected. When the Wicked Witch of the West reaches for them, they shock and burn her hands and she cries out in pain.
In The Wiz, the shoes are silver high heels. This movie gives further insight into the shoe's magical protection. When Evillene (the witch of the west) tries to obtain them magically, her fingers are bent painfully backwards.
The Wizard of Oz (1982 film)
In the anime movie, the shoes are once again transformed into the ruby slippers, though they are never referred to by that name. They are heeled shoes with pointed, slightly curled toes, similar to their appearance in Denslow's illustrations. Unlike the book, the shoes are still on Dorothy's feet when she arrives in Kansas.
Return to Oz
In Return to Oz, the Ruby Slippers are used once again. In this movie, the slippers have more power than simply transporting people. They allow the Nome King to conquer Oz and turn every one in the Emerald City to stone. Dorothy later uses the shoes to reverse this process. This extra power is due to the fact the slippers replace the Nome King's Magic Belt. In the original draft of the script, the Nome King had refashioned the slippers into the actual Magic Belt from the novels. Upon his death, they reverted into the form of slippers. This was cut from the final filming of the movie.
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Silver Shoes are portrayed as sparkling, bejeweled, glittery Manolo Blahnik high-heels. The laws of ownership are again displayed in that the Witch of the West tries to cut off Dorothy's feet to obtain the shoes. Once again the shoes remain on Dorothy's feet when she arrives home.
Appearances in television
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1986 anime)
When first seen on the feet of the Witch of the East in the 1986 anime version, they are brown peasant's shoes. When the Witch of the North then magically transfers them to Dorothy's feet, they take on the appearance of white slip-on shoes. When Dorothy is forced to give one of the shoes to the Witch of the West, it reverts to the peasant form. After the Witch is melted and Dorothy is shown wearing it again, it has returned to its white form.
The shoes are used twice after they initially send Dorothy home. The first time, she is holding them in her hands when she clicks the heels and drops them. Consequently, Dorothy is transported to Oz and the shoes are left in Kansas (Glinda sends her home). The second time occurs while Dorothy is sleeping. Tik-Tok is emitting a distress signal and the shoes activate, transporting Dorothy to the Land of Ev in a beam of light. Her clothes are changed in mid flight.
The Wizard of Oz (TV series)
In the 1990 The Wizard of Oz television series, the Ruby Slippers are used to transport Dorothy back to Oz. They are depicted to possess other powerful magical capabilities that Dorothy did not fully understand, and as such, often served as a form of deus ex machina against hopeless situations. They are no longer depicted as high heels.
A unique concept proposed by this series is that the Ruby Slippers' magic is linked to the glow of their red coloration. Their powers only function while a dim glow of red light emanates from them, initiated by Dorothy clicking her heels; and the effects of their magic immediately cease after the shoes cease to glow. Also, the Wicked Witch was once able to annul their abilities entirely, by capturing a red Luminary (teardrop-shaped creatures who control all color in Oz) and forcing him to drain the red color from the slippers themselves. However the slippers regained their powers after the Luminary escaped.
This series also proposes that the slippers do not necessarily have to be on the user's feet for their powers to work, as Dorothy once used them by tapping the heels together when she held the shoes in her hands (since the ground's sandy surface prevented her from clicking the heels together).
Also worth noting in a single episode, is that Truckle, the series' lead Flying Monkey, was once able to wear the Ruby Slippers and thus utilize their powerful magic for his own whims. Even with his generally dim wits and reckless disregard, the slippers gave him sufficient power to overwhelm the Wicked Witch of the West's magical attacks, and temporarily reduce her to his servant. This once again demonstrates that the shoes' users need not be a skilled/knowledgeable spellcaster, in order to gain great power. The Cowardly Lion also gets to wear them briefly.
Once Upon a Time (TV series)
In the Once Upon a Time television series, the Silver Slippers are first alluded to in "The Doctor", when Rumpelstiltskin sends the Mad Hatter to the Land of Oz in order to locate and retrieve the shoes so that he could travel to the Land without Magic in order to locate his lost son Balefire.
In "It's Not Easy Being Green", shortly before "The Doctor", Zelena, the woman who would eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West, goes to the Wizard in order to seek out her family. Upon discovering that she was abandoned by her mother, Cora, and that her half-sister, Regina became Queen and was being trained by Rumpelstiltskin, the Wizard gives Zelena the shoes so that she can travel to the Enchanted Forest to try and replace Regina as Rumpelstiltskin's student. Upon being rejected by him, Zelena turns green with envy. She mocks Rumpelstiltskin with the power of the Silver Slippers, thus causing his desire later desire to obtain them. Using the Silver Slippers again she returns to Oz and dethrones the Wizard.
In "Kansas" the Slippers appear one last time, as Zelena, posing as the Wizard of Oz, gives Dorothy the Silver Slippers in order to send her back to Kansas, in the hopes that it would keep Dorothy from becoming a powerful witch herself, and defeat and replace Zelena as the Witch of the West.
Appearances in other media
Dorothy of Oz
The Dorothy of Oz series completely revamps the Silver Shoes. They are instead depicted as red boots created by Selluriah, the Witch of the East. When Mara (codename Dorothy) stomps the heels of said boots, she takes on the form and powers of a witch. This power is channeled (rather inexpertly) through the staff Thrysos. The transformation is rather embarrassing, as it involves Mara being momentarily nude and various men are always apt to spot her. It is yet to be revealed if these boots will help Mara return home.
The shoes are shown in the DC comics Vertigo series Fables. Dorothy, who's portrayed as a cold, merciless assassin, found that she enjoyed killing after being hired by the Wizard to kill the Witch of the West. However, she loses them on the way back to Kansas over the Deadly Desert, and goes to great lengths to get them back. She has several encounters with Fabletown spy Cinderella, which climaxes with them facing off in the mini-series Cinderella: Fables Are Forever. After deducing that they are actually too big to fit Dorothy, Cinderella takes them and pushes her out of an airship over the Deadly Desert to her apparent death, though her body is not seen. Cinderella then looks over the shoes and decides they're just the right size to fit her.
- "2006 Notable Books". Kansas State Library. Retrieved November 5, 2014.