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At First Glance The Wizard Of Oz Seems To Be A Simple Childrens Story

At first glance The Wizard of Oz seems to be a simple children’s story, a fairytale of sorts. Further examination however reveals that there is much more to this story. The movie, which is based on the book The Wonderful World of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum, contains many intriguing symbols. Included among these symbols are the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins, the Wizard, the ruby (silver) slippers and more. Baum chose these symbols to create an allegory of the populist movement of the late 19th century.
The most obvious symbol is perhaps the most important. Baum uses the Land of Oz to represent the United States. We can see that the land of the Munchkins represents the East Coast, as there is relationship between the Witch of the east and the Munchkin people similar to the relationship eastern factory workers had with their employers. The Munchkin people themselves represent the American factory workers. Their mistreatment by the Witch of the east was symbolic of the mistreatment of the eastern working class by their bosses. So naturally the Wicked Witch is symbolic of a Banker Boss. Just as the common workers suffered at the expense of the Banker Bosses, the witch profited from the Munchkins. Another easily spotted symbol is the city of Oz as Washington D.C., our nations capitol. This city is the most important city in Oz like D.C. is the most important city in the U.S. We also see that the Wizard resides there similar to they way our president lives in D.C. Thus the Wizard of Oz is representative of a president, specifically William McKinley.McKinley was supposedly a great man and the public was coerced into electing him when he was actually just a common man. The Wizard of Oz was ?supposed to be a great wizard? when he was actually a common man. The common American people are seen in Dorothy especially through her naivete and innocence (she did not know the power of the slippers). The Robber Barons and Banker Bosses took advantage of the naivete of the American people who Baum believed should have handled the silver situation differently. Another symbol, the yellow brick road, is rather simple. It represents the gold standard, which had obstacles that had to be overcome but would come out alright in the long run. The silver shoes are one more easy symbol; they represent the silver coinage that was such an important issue. The Banker Bosses at the time were able to control money but the added silver would lessen their ability to have this control. In the movie the Witch knows she can not be as powerful if Dorothy has the slippers so she wants them. The Scarecrow represents the Midwest farmers. The fact that the Scarecrow has no brain and requires help to keep from falling shows that Baum believed that the Midwestern farmers could not make it on their own and were in need of some help. The Tin Man is another symbol of an eastern worker. The fact that he was working when he rusted and that he is machined from metal seem to point to this interpretation. The Lion is used as a symbol for William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was a presidential candidate many times but was never elected. He was a man who was known for his strong words and weak actions. The Lion was in turn known for his ferocious roar and that he was a coward. We can see that the Wicked Witch of the West symbolized a Railroad Baron. At the end of the 19th century, the Railroad Barons basically ruled the common workers and the Midwestern farmers through manipulation of wages and shipping costs. In the movie the Witch rules over the flying monkeys and in the book she makes an end to the Tin Man and the Scarecrow which would show the control of the eastern workers and the farmers. The Flying Monkeys could be interpreted from the movie as common workers as the witch has control of them. The book has more information on the Flying Monkeys however and in it they seem to represent the Plains Indians. The Monkey King talks about how they used to be free until Oz oppressed them. In the United States the Plains Indians were free to roam as they wished until the U.S. kept pushing them west but there was a problem in the 1890’s when there was no more land to push the Indians further west.

Together these symbols represent every opinion of the country. Every side from the populist movement is clearly exhibited and it is evident that Lyman Frank Baum was purposely creating this allegory of the populist movement. His allegory was created through the use of symbols, which make it quite obvious that while this story can be construed as just a children’s fairytale there is much more to be discovered if you examine it on a more intellectual level.

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