Glass Cat

Bungle, the Glass Cat is a character in The Oz books of L. Frank Baum.

Bungle first appears in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the seventh of Baum's fourteen Oz books. The magician Dr. Pipt, in testing his Powder of Life, animates an ornamental glass cat figurine. His wife Margolotte names it Bungle. The Glass Cat is transparent, except for its hard ruby heart and its pink brains, which look rather like a collection of marbles and can be seen working in the cat's head.

In personality, Bungle is almost stereotypically catlike—cool and reserved and isolated (and extremely vain). Through its incessant prowling throughout the Land of Oz, however, the Glass Cat has acquired intimate knowledge of its complex terrain; and it is generally willing to exploit this knowledge to the benefit of Dorothy and her friends. In "The Magic of Oz," for example, the Glass Cat guides the rescue party that saves Trot and Cap'n Bill from entrapment on the Magic Isle. And the Cat is virtually invulnerable to harm, which is a great advantage in its various adventures.

The Glass Cat's unique mix of qualities has occasionally attracted the attention of Oz imitators and acolytes. Eric Shanower employs the Glass Cat in his 1992 graphic novel "The Blue Witch of Oz."

While various writers have explored the theme of invisibility, both before and after H. G. Wells, Baum was unusual in creating a character that is visible but transparent. [Baum magically animates a spun-glass animal in an earlier story, "The Glass Dog," in his 1901 collection "American Fairy Tales"—though the dog is not transparent but pink, with a blue ribbon around its neck and shiny black glass eyes.] A few other writers have taken up the idea; James Alan Gardner's transparent glass woman, Oar, in his novels "Expendable" (1997) and "Ascending" (2001), has a Bungle-like vanity, but also a positive impact, much like Baum's cat.


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