UNMASKING THE WIZARD OF OZ Is The Wizard of Oz a musical fantasy or a parable on Populism? The Wizard of Oz has been used for
years in many political cartoons. People find various symbolic meanings and they can adapt the story to current events. Bush asks the Wizard of Oz for proof
of Iraqi weapons Artist: Edward Smith Date: 2003-01-10 Wizard of Oz, Paul Wolfowitz, reveals truth about Saddam's WMD Artist: Kirk Anderson Date: 2003-06-04
Henry Littlefield took it one step further in his article The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism But first, a little background on The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum The Author of The Wizard of Oz In favor of many Populist movements Political views may have influenced writing Helped produce a musical which was the premise for the
1939 MGM musical What is Populism? Populists in late nineteenth century America wanted to help the common people
They advocated measures that would help farmers and laborers They supported the free coinage of silver The Populist metaphors can be found in
Settings Key Objects Characters KANSAS IN THE LATE 1800s Farmer discontent and Populist politics were
concentrated in Kansas Suffering from a droughtmany farmers going through hard times Farmers wanted the free coinage of silver to help them out of debt
Shown in a sepia wash Dorothy wants out Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bright and colorful Oz= ounce
Silver is measured in ounces THE EMERALD CITY Main political city of Oz
Symbolizes the national capital, as well as paper money CYCLONE Cyclones used in many Populist political cartoons Some pamphlets compared the depression of the 1890s
to a cyclone Dorothys house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, and she gets The Ruby Slippers
Originally silver Changed to ruby because of color technology Symbolize the power of the silver movement The Yellow Brick Road
Represents balance between silver and gold movements Journey on road is dangerousgold standard might not be wise DOROTHY Common people
From a Kansas farm Does not see the power of slippers at first THE SCARECROW
Represents farmers Farmers thought to be ignorantlooking for a brain Shows common sense throughout the storyhas always had a brain Shows belief that farmers were not as ignorant as wealthy people thought THE TIN MAN
Industrial workers Wants a heartdehumanized Physically strong, hollow inside Stuck when the found him workers felt trapped in an economic rut
THE COWARDLY LION Represents William Jennings BryanPopulist leader Looking for courageBryan thought to be a coward by some Possessed courage all along
WICKED WITCH OF THE EAST Stands for wealthy people of the East favoring gold currency Symbolic of big businesses
and corporation who also wanted gold standard Dorothy kills herdefeats people who wanted gold currency
WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST Personification of harsh natural forces of west, such as the drought Dorothys main adversarypresent throughout entire story
Uses nature to hurt Dorothy and friends Poppy field Flying monkeys She is killed by water, just like a drought
THE WIZARD Represents leadership during the depression Government seemed powerless Uses hot air balloon (as did
many cartoons) Wizard is from Kansas, like Dorothy ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE THEORY: SOME SAY
Baum was not really a Populist supporter The metaphors are purely coincidental DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOOK AND MOVIE
Silver slippers changed to ruby Glinda changed from Good Witch of the South to the Good Witch of the North
Is the movie musical still a populist metaphor? There is still plenty of evidence that The Wizard of Oz is in fact a parable on Populism. So the choice is up to you. Next time you
watch the musical, look past the magic and color of the movie to find deeper meanings and metaphors. Then make up your mindis The Wizard of Oz just a fun, harmless musical fantasy or is it something more?
REFERENCES MGM Pictures: The Wizard of Oz http://thewizardofoz.warnerbros.com/cmp/photo.htm Library of Congress
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