Influence is the capacity or power of persons to produce an effect on the actions of others. Victor Flemming, the director of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, depicts a message that revolves around the reversal of power and gender roles. Moreover, Dorothy is a child in her physical presence but lives the role of a hero as she leads the scarecrow, lion, and tin man to the Wizard himself. Through the archetypes such as the hero being a women, Cultural values, and the stages of the journey, Flemming raises the argument that in this case those who don’t have much influence in society are very influential in the Emerald City.
During the great depression in the 1930’s women were at the bottom of the totem pole as men tried to get the country back on track. However, In this film things are different as Dorothy is the feminist hero. She is not the typical buff, blonde, male hero but instead an innocent little girl who wants to escape the terrible Ms. Gulch from stealing her dog. The reversal of power is first conveyed when Ms. Gulch arrives to take Dorothy’s dog and instead of Auntie Em and Uncle Henry sticking up for her they bow down to the evil woman and hand over the dog. Ms. Gulch clearly had more power over the Aunt and Uncle and when Auntie Em tried to fight back she failed. She responded, “For twenty-three years I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now… well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!” Therefore, the roles are reversed as the evil woman bosses around a grown man.
The wise old man is seen to be the man who gives the hero strength and guidance throughout the journey but it seems to be different here. The Wizard is seen as the ruler of the Land of Oz and is the only man capable of solving the problems of Dorothy. She and her three friends travel long distances to the wizard in hope of solving their problems but in the end turns out to be nothing but a man behind a curtain. He puts up a front with Dorothy but when she asks him if he’s ever been scarred he shows his true self, “Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe… I was petrified.” He is not the typical wise old man, and in all honesty is nothing but a fake
and a normal bystander during her journey.
Furthermore, gender roles comes into effect when the two witches use their power throughout the film, and are the only ones to do so. Glinda the Good Witch is the one who can be seen to be the mentor of Dorothy as she influences and guides her to overcome the Wicked Witch of the West. Again, the mentor is usually a male but it is obviously different in this film. Furthermore, Glinda also uses her powers to help fend of the Wicked Witch as she tries to take the ruby slippers from Dorothy. Glinda uses her power to make the Wicked Witch feel small as she says, “You have no power here! Begone, before somebody drops a house on you, too!” This leads to Dorothy having more confidence because she knows she has the power of Glinda behind her.
Though Dorothy knows she has Glinda on her side she meets three more friends in the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow who all join her on her journey to Oz. She notices that the Lion doesn’t have courage, the Scare crow isn’t scary because he doesn’t have a brain, and the Tin Man doesn’t have a heart. For example the Lion says, “I’m afraid there’s no denying’. I’m just a dandy-lion. A fate I don’t deserve. I’m sure I could show my prowess. Be a lion, not a mouse.
If I only had the nerve.” Dorothy gets in trouble numerous times during the road of trials and it is the Scare crow who uses his brain, the lion who uses his courage, and the Tin Man who uses his heart to help free Dorothy from the Wicked Witch. It is not until the end of the Journey that the three realize they had it the whole time and it was due to the influence Dorothy and the Wizard had on them to finally show it, “The Scarecrow already has brains, the Tin Man has a heart, and the Lion has courage enough, but until the Wizard bestows it external evidences they feel deficient” (John Updike).
5. Strangely, it is very odd how the only people with a sense of social structure are the munchkins who look like children. 6. Finally, Dorothy acknowledges the hardships and struggles that comes with doubting yourself and is happy to finally be home. “Home in The Wizard of Oz represents “woman’s place” and seems emblematic of patriarchy’s prescription for all
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