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Populism and the Wizard of Oz

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 700
  • Category: Wizard

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The “The Wizard of Oz” is a beloved children’s story written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and many historians have tried to come up with arguments that compare the mystical story with the movement of populism. All of these theories have some background but none of them are able to draw any real parallels between the story and populism that are not completely speculative. These historians have done nothing that could bring any evidence or tie any parts of the plot specifically to populism. The convoluted idea that “The Wizard of Oz” is a parable to populism only takes into account drastic assumptions about Baum’s work and does not take into account that the story is based off his real life experience.

The idea that Baum’s fanciful story is comparable to populism can only be reached by drastic conjecture. Henry Littlefield, n historian that believes that “The Wizard of Oz” is a parable to populism, made several comparisons of the wizard of Oz to the gilded age and the populist movement. He stated several inflammatory statements like how he assumes that Dorothy’s silver slippers are a reference to the populist idea that silver should be coined freely, the city of Oz is the city of Washington DC, and that the wizard is one of the gilded age presidents. These arguments have very little basis in what they are saying because all of these ideas are not thoroughly supported. The idea that Dorothy’s shoes are a representation of the free coinage of silver and that Emerald city is the Washington DC is unconvincing because Dorothy did not obtain the shoes in Emerald city. If the story was a parable to populism than Dorothy would have had to obtain the shoes in Emerald city because the only place where the the free coinage would have been able to be obtained was Washington. Also, in the end Oz was able to save Dorothy and let her go home. the populists did not have such favorable view of the gilded age presidents. The fact that the story glorifies the gilded age presidents, which is the opposing view of the populist movement, furthers the point that Littlefield’s view of “The Wizard of Oz” is purely speculative. answer

The quickly overlooked real meaning of the Wizard of Oz is not a clever piece of populist propaganda but a fanciful story in which Baum draws characters from his life. When historians like Littlefield jump to populist movement conclusions they do not consider that the author may be drawing places, characters, and events from his real life. Evan Schwartz the author of Finding Oz wrote about Baum’s inspiration to write Wizard of Oz. Schwartz debunks many theories that other historians have insinuated. Schwartz states that the characters of the wicked witch of the east and the wicked witch of the west are not depictions of the Eastern bankers and the western society, but the two sides that Baum saw from his mother who was a woman’s rights activist.

ALso, the yellow brick road was not a symbol for the gold standard, but an actual road that baum was inspired by; and Emerald city is not a symbol for Washington DC, it was his view of Chicago during the 1893 worlds fair. The story can also be traced back to the fact that Baum had failed at many careers and he was writing a story to try and parallel his own redemption. The arguments that Schwartz presents are based on fact because there is evidence that Baum experienced all of these events and there are first hand accounts that depict the effect these events had on his life. The arguments that Schwartz presents are not based on speculation but fact.

The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum is an enchanting story that relates back to his experiences and not to the ideals of the populist movement. The understanding that Baum had of the populist movement has not been thoroughly proven to the extent that would justify Baum’s motivation to write an entire novel about it. The more sensible argument is that Baum drew upon personal experience when he wrote Wizard of Oz.

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