I know you’re wondering how The Wonderful Wizard of Oz relates to the Populist Era, well it was said that the author L. Frank Baum was contrasting the Wizard of Oz to the Populist Era. In 1964 Henry M. Littlefield published “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism” in the American Quarterly explaining the similarities between the two. He explains how a lot of the characters from the Wizard of Oz represent some elements of the Populist Era.
There are a lot of hidden meanings in this story like for instance did you know Dorothy was every man and woman apart of American Populism in Kansas. Scarecrow was the native farmer who didn’t know one thing about city life but understood things with a little education. Also, the Tin Man represented the industrial workers who often felt they were being dehumanized. The Cowardly Lion represented William Jennings Bryan Populist President candidate who was attacked as being a coward for not supporting the US war with Spain. The Silver Shoes were the Populists solution to the nation’s economic problems.
Now I bet you didn’t know Emerald City political center of Oz represented Washington D.C. Wicked Witch of the West was William McKinley the politician and president candidate that defeated William Jennings Bryan. Then there’s The Wizard was one of the Gilded Age presidents who often manipulated politicians into thinking they were powerful. The Yellow Brick Road represented the golden standard. Also, the Munchkins were the common people of the East.
Last but not least the Flying Monkeys represented the Native American’s who were once free until the Wicked Witch of the West enslaved them. Then there’s the group which includes Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and of course Toto who represented the Populist Party who were trying to get to Washington. The Wicked Witch of the East was Eastern Industrialist who
supported the Gold Standard. The Land of Oz was standard measure of gold ounce (oz.). Kansas was a Populist strong place and the heart of the nation.
Basically what I’m trying to say is, if Henry M. Littlefield didn’t dig deep to uncover what author L. Frank Baum was trying to say we wouldn’t know how political the story was. On the other hand L. Frank Baum presented us with a fun, artistic, and magical way of seeing politics and we didn’t even know it. It makes you wonder what other stories might have political meaning in it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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