The Glass Dog
By L. Frank Baum
Lyman Frank Baum is not an unfamiliar name to many Americans. Best known for his very famous children’s book, The Wizard of Oz, Baum also wrote several other fairy tales, short stories, poems, and scripts throughout his lifetime.
The Glass Dog is a short fairy tale that was included in American Fairy Tales published in 1901 in the United States. This book is a compilation of twelve stories, that doesn’t necessarily have clear morals attached to them, as you will soon discover.
This tale has been paraphrased in my own words.
There once was a wizard who loved nothing more than his studies. Naturally, he was annoyed with the multitude of people who came to knock on his door, seeking his advice about their troubles. He never saw them, but even in sending them away, he lost his train of thought and ruined his work. Becoming angry with the interruptions, he decided he must have a dog to keep people away.
Next door lived a glass blower, which he went to and asked where he could get a dog. The wizard requested that he blow him a glass dog, which he could make bark with his magic. Not having any money, he paid the glass blower with a cure for his rheumatism.
The next day, the glass blower brought the wizard his pink glass dog. In exchange, he gave him a bottle with one drop of liquid in it that would cure his ailment. The one drop could cure any ailment in the world, It was a marvelous recipe, but the wizard had forgotten how to make it. The wizard cast a spell on the dog to make it come to life. He set it outside his door to bark at anyone who would come to knock. The glass blower, returning to his room, decided to save the drop of medicine for a day that his rheumatism was very bad.
The next day, the glass blower read in the newspaper that the young Miss Midas was deathly ill. Remembering the medicine, he decided to take it to the beautiful Miss Midas. He cleaned himself and went to her mansion. The glass blower told the lady’s maid that if he were to give his cure to the Mistress, then she would have to promise to marry him in return. She consented, desperate to live. Taking the medication, she was well within a minute. Returning home, the glass blower smashed all of his glass blowing tools, and thought about how he would spend his future wife’s fortune.
The next day, he called upon her. She asked where he obtained the magic potion that cured her. He told her about the wizard, and how he had gotten it as payment for making him a glass dog. Miss Midas expressed her wishes for a glass dog that could bark. The wizard cared nothing for money, so he couldn’t buy it from him. Miss Midas insisted that he steal the dog from the wizard, as she would never be happy without it. Wanting to please his future wife, he purchased a sack, and threw it over the dog to capture it when it rushed out to bark at him outside the wizard’s door, then delivered it to her home.
The next day, he returned to her house, but was greeted by the glass dog. He told the butler to call the dog off, only to find out that the Lady ordered the dog to bark whenever he came by. He went by the drug store and called Miss Midas from the phone there. The glass blower asked why she treated him so poorly, and she said that she doesn’t like how he looks. She said that if he were better looking, she’d marry him, but because he wasn’t, she wouldn’t marry him and the dog would make sure of that.
So distraught, the glass blower went home and began with preparations to hang himself. Just then, the wizard came in, and explained how he had lost his dog. He asked the glass blower to make him another, but the glass blower was unable as all of his tools were thrown away. He suggested that if the wizard were to offer a reward for the finding of the dog, The wizard said that the only thing he could spare was a beauty powder.
Immediately changing his mind, the glass blower pretended to go out and look for the dog. He came back and told the wizard that it was at Miss Midas’ house. The two went there and the wizard got the dog back by putting a spell over it so it wouldn’t attack them. The wizard gave the glass blower the beauty powder, which he took, and became the most beautiful man in the world.
The glass blower went back to Miss Midas’ house. When she saw him, she immediately fell in love with his good looks. She gave him an allowance of four dollars a day. Thinking of the noose in his room, he consented. They were married, and he lived a dog’s life, but the bride was very jealous of his beauty. In return, the glass blower got in debt and made her equally miserable.
The glass dog was returned to its original post, and probably still resides there, guarding the door of the wizard’s shop.
The Glass Dog is an odd little fairy tale with an obscured purpose. While many fairy tales have a moral or morals that they try to portray to the reader population (typically children) this story simply doesn’t have that characteristic.
A tale of a grumpy wizard, a money-seeking glass blower, and a snobby wealthy lady, the story intertwines its characters in strange and unusual circumstances. While there definitely are elements of fantasy throughout, it’s not very comparable to the high-fantasy depicted in a majority of fairy tales.
While the wizard seems to be the main character at the beginning, this position transitions over to the glass blower who fashions the glass dog for the wizard. It is quickly revealed that the glass blower, although well into his years, is not necessarily a man of good character, as he seeks to marry the wealthy Miss Midas in order to squander her riches. With some difficulty, he eventually coerces her into marrying him. However, the union is a miserable one ending in squalor for both parties.
So, what is the lesson to be taken away? I’m not really sure. The glass blower nearly kills himself when he doesn’t get his way. Then, when he does, he only desires to use Miss Midas for her money. Selfishness, greed, and shallow beauty are the traits represented here, and they lead to inevitable unhappiness for the characters.
And the wizard? Well, he just continues existing, held up in his home studying away, with the pink glass dog stopping anyone from disturbing him. The last few lines in the tale read:
“As for the glass dog, the wizard set him barking again by means of his wizardness and put him outside his door. I suppose he is there yet, and am rather sorry, for I should like to consult the wizard about the moral to this story.”
I believe so. Anyways, if you are one for quirky fairy tales, this author may be one for your taste.
My Rating: ★★