It is truly miraculous that sometimes a book designed for children can disclose so much to the adults about their own world and the way children see it. Backed by a considerable amount of allegories and allusions, a typical story for kids might turn into an enticing quest for the adults, a mirror in which they can see their own reflections and the reflection of the world that they live in.
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One of the most striking examples, the tale of the Wizard of Oz, offers a peculiar study of the XX century, suggesting that the main character should portray the essence of the adult world, with all the most impressive features of the 1900ies. Weirdly enough, when saying, “the main character,” one presupposes that the Wizard of Oz himself is in the spotlight; however, it can be argued that the given character is in the focus of the novel.
It is rather Dorothy and her friends who are in the center of attention, whereas the Wizard himself, whose name is in the title of the book, is in the shadow until the final chapters, which also offers certain food for thoughts. Analyzing the features of the main character, one can come to certain conclusions about the XX-century America and the way Baum pictured it.
Among one of the most obvious suggestions concerning the allegories that the Wizard of Oz can contain in reference to the XX century USA and the peculiarities of its development are the so-called monetary debates, one of the pinpoints of the USA XX-century development. As Whalpes and Betts comment,
When the story is viewed in this light, the real reason the Cowardly Lion fell asleep in the field of poppies, the identity of the Wizard of Oz, the significance of the strange number of hallways and rooms in the Emerald Palace, and the reason the Wicked Witch of the West was so happy to get one of Dorothy’s shoes was clear. (525)
Hence, it can be considered that the Wizard of Oz was an allegory for the government and its policies. Rather witty suggestion, it does sound quite far-fetched, yet has the rights to exist. However, there are even more credible ideas concerning the identity of the Wizard and his reign.
Another popular idea about the symbol that the Wizard of Oz represents in the book of the same title presupposes dealing with the Capitalistic viewpoint and the mentality of a Capitalist society. According to a widespread idea, the Wizard of Oz is much more than merely a political satire – the character of the wizard proves to be the means to reflect the conflict between the Christianity and the Capitalistic movement. As Durand and Leigh confirm,
Examining The Wonderful Wizard of Oz through a religious lens, rather than a social, political, or economic lens, shows that Baum uses Theosophy, especially its reliance on spiritualism, to get rid of “the heart-aches and nightmares” raised by fundamental Christianity’s reliance on “hellfire and brimstone.” If read as a religious allegory, Baum’s fairy tale reveals the conflict in American religion at the turn of the twentieth century and remains a subversive religious populist text that advocates spiritual consumerism. (206).
Therefore, it can be suggested that the Wizard of Oz is an allusion for the Church body. Terrifying on the outside, he proves weak and trembling on the inside. Rather harsh description of the XX-century USA church, Baum’s interpretation is still close to the truth. However, it is important to remember that there is yet another interpretation of the famous fairytale in the context of the XX century.
It is important to mark that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz can be viewed not only as a book with considerable political implications, but also the one that is aimed at enhancing the feminist movement of the XX century. Taking a closer look at the supportive cats in the novel, one must mark that each of the characters does not hold the candle to the central one, namely, Dorothy.
It is essential that she possesses the qualities that are typically believed to be male, e.g. courage, the willingness to join on an adventure, and decisiveness. Contrasted to her, the most powerful man in the country of Oz, especially after the unmasking, does look somewhat pitiful compared to the girl.
Hence, it can be concluded that the Wizard of Oz can also be an allegory for the protests against and the opponents of the feminist movement that was starting in the XX century in the USA. As Laub and Thompson claim, Baum’s mother was a prominent feminist, which gives reasons to believe that the Wizard of Oz is shaped according to the feminist idea of men’s prejudices (102).
Hence, it can be concluded that the Wizard of Oz comprises the allegories concerning the financial policy of the XX-century America, the political struggle and the feminist ideas. With the help of his incredible gift, Baum managed to breathe some reality in a completely unrealistic story. Which is even more important, the writer managed to balance the allegories and the fairy-tale, making it an easy read for children and something to ponder over for their parents, which proves that Baum was one of the most genial writers ever.
Durand, Kevin K. J., and Mary K. Leigh. The Universe of Oz: Essays on Baum’s Series and Its Progeny. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. Print.
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Laub, Robert P., and Gary R. Thompson. A Companion to American Fiction, 1865 1914. New York City, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Print.
Whalpes, Robert, and Diane C. Betts. Historical Perspectives on the American Economy: Selected Readings. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.