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Historian’s Wizard of Oz Review Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 18 March 2017

Historian’s Wizard of Oz Review

the movie `wizard of oz`, the strengths and weaknesses of each document, the major differences between the documents, and feedback on any links to present day political and economic issues. Investigate the authors background.


The Historian’s Wizard Of Oz, first published in 1900, made ripples in the literary world and its writer L. Frank Baum shoot to eminence, and the result was so many of the sequels. When MGM, in 1939, decided to convert this hit into movie version, many of the adaptations of Wizard of Oz had been appeared on stage. Although the film did not cause swell at the box office sales in the beginning, but made waves, as people become conscious to its hidden meaning, years following its initial release. “Its status as an American classic owes more to television, as The Wizard of Oz became an annual television event in the 1950s and 1960s. The universal quality of the story and the warmth of the film made it appealing to people of all ages. Who would’ve thought that The Wizard of Oz contained hidden meanings”?1

Critics and observers has been interpreted this mega hit in different ways for more than a century now. And it is Henry Littlefield, a high school teacher; presented the most illustrious interpretation of The Wizard of Oz. it is a fact that Baum had been very much involved in active politics in the last decades of 1800s.But, Baum never made claim at any stage that that the story, in its contents, was an allegory for politics. “Baum’s story corresponded to the issues and figures in American politics at the end of the 19th century. Littlefield found that he could use The Wizard of Oz to teach history to his students, as the story functioned well as an allegory to the Populist movement and the 1896 presidential election”. 2

Populism, the Key Issues of 1896 and Impact on Culture

More than 50 translations has been made in various languages of East and West of The Wizard of Oz so far. Even, due to its popularity, different countries adapted in a way to match the corrosponding conditions of the local culture. For instance, “in some countries where the Hindu religion is practiced, abridged versions of the book were published in which, for religious reasons, the Tin Woodsman was replaced with a snake”.

1 When Henry Littlefield article was published in American Quarterly then people began to realize that The Wizard of Oz was a “parable on Populism,” a prototype of a rural political awakening in the last decades of 1800. The Populist Party of late 19th century mobilized the Farmers’ Alliances to its advantage. “Farmers faced considerable economic hardship and they believed that monetary policy was determined by eastern bankers and industrial interests. The Farmers’ Alliances wanted greater government regulation of railroads, tax reform and the free coinage of silver to increase the money supply”. 3

Wizard of the Oz made great impression on American, Russian, and other European countries. “A mere sampling of the breadth in which it is referenced might include Futurama (which parodied it in an episode), The Cinnamon Bear (a 1938 radio serial), RahXephon (a 2002 Japanese animated television show), Zardoz (a 1974 Sean Connery movie), Wizard and Glass (a 1997 Stephen King fantasy/Western novel), and the science fiction literature of Robert Heinlein”. 4

The Wizard of Oz: the movie: the Ups and Downs

Although Baum produced the “Oz” film series in 1908 and 1914 but the most famous adaptation is the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, featuring Judy Garland as Dorothy. Francis MacDonell argues that the movie is an allegory of New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program of social welfare to combat the widespread hardship of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The man primarily responsible for injecting this political message into the film was lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, who was a socialist and supporter of Roosevelt’s policies.

Harburg had written the lyrics to “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” which served as an apt anthem for the Great Depression. 5 The movie is magical and creative, its pluses is as MacDonnell described, The Wizard of Oz, …is a brightly-colored, visually bold, rapidly paced extravaganza, full of gaudy sets, outlandish costumes, and way-over-the-top acting.6 But, some of the scenes were insipid (the ridiculous conclusion of the poppy field sequence) or misplaced (the Cowardly Lion’s song, which occurs at perhaps the least appropriate moment). 5

A look into Frank Baum’s Life and His Political Ambitions

L Frank Baum was born on 15 May 1856 in Chittennnango, New York. His earlier interest in the newspapers and magazines but when he entered in his 20s he started taking interest in theaters and operas. His mother was one of the leading champions of the Women’s Rights Movements. He shoot to eminence when he teamed up with Maxfield Parrish, the illustrator, and wrote his first book Mother Goose in Prose, afterwards he together with illustrator William Wallace he published Father Goose, His Book. Both books had drawn huge attention from the children.

Nobody can say with surety that Frank Baum really preplanned to produce a work that was so much critical of the monetary aspects of the 1896 election. “Yet it is not too much of a stretch to interpret the imagery of the story in this light. Of all the fantasy characters Baum could have created to accompany Dorothy on her journey, he chose characters that evoked so strongly the occupations of ordinary people in the late-19th century—farmers and industrial workers. Lawrence Swaim suggests that Baum “may not have been conscious of [the political significance of the Oz imagery], which would explain why the political references in Baum’s books pop up in such a surrealistic way.”1

It is surprising none of the Baum biographers identified that if Baum had any political intention to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “If Baum had been a Populist supporter, the imagery in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz suggests that Baum had lost his zeal for the Populist movement.” 1

1. Ranjit S. Dighe, The Historian’s Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum’s Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002)
2. Richard Jensen, The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1885-1896
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971)
3. Martin Gardner and Russell B. Nye, eds., The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was
(East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994)
4. William Leach, Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture, (New York: Vintage Books, 1993)
5. Lynette Carpenter, “‘There’s No Place Like Home’: The Wizard of Oz and American Isolationism,” Film and History 15 (May, 1985), pp. 37-45
6. Francis MacDonnell, “‘The Emerald City Was the New Deal’: E.Y. Harburg and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Journal of American Culture (13 (Winter 1990), pp. 71-75.

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