Oz Paper 2/11/15
The Wizard of Oz a Parable on Populism and America in the Late 1800’s
Dorothy: I chose Dorothy to represent the emerging middle class because of her humble beginnings in the Midwest. She affects every other character in the book just like the emergence of that middle class affected the social structure in the late 1800’s.
Scarecrow: I thought the Scarecrow best represented the Farmers during the late 1800’s. He wished for a brain so he could do his job properly and so that the other creatures wouldn’t make fun of him. In the late 1800’s when industrialization became more popular agriculture was having a hard hit. The farmers were forced to buy expensive American manufactured goods and sell theirs in a highly competitive world market. Just like the scarecrow he felt like he wasn’t doing his job properly, why should he have to sell his goods in a competitive market and buy expensive manufactured ones? He wasn’t making money or was fighting for his right to have the tariffs lowered. Farmers didn’t have the brains to find a way to fight against the unjustice happening to them and would later realize that the only person who could have power to fix this is the president and so the People’s Party was created in hopes of electing into office an official who would listen to their needs.
Tin Man: The Tin Man represented the industrialists of the time. They were all about the profits and cruel towards the competition that stood in their way, desperately in need of a heart. An example of one of these industrial kingpins is John D. Rockefeller, the oil baron. He made his profit by believing only the fittest survived, he was ruthless when it came to competitors and would use many different tactics to end them. The Tin Man goes on this journey with the hopes of finding a heart at the end, the only thing that would give industrialist joy is profit. They achieved this in D.C. by creating a Plutocracy.
Lion: After thoughtful consideration I chose the Lion to represent that African-American community of the time. The lion in the movie tries to come off as a scary tough character but is later exposed as a coward and all he desires is to have courage. Blacks during this time were still struggling to receive their full rights and had a hard time speaking up in defense towards them. Whites were afraid of blacks having power and the effect it would have, but in reality the African- American community was scared of reaching that potential due to the strong opposition towards them. The black community’s journey would be longer than the Tin Man’s and Scarecrow’s but a good example of the beginning of this process was W. E. B. Du Bois, an advocate for racial justice and founder of the NAACP.
Toto: The sole protector of the average American I thought Toto would best represented by the reformers of the time more importantly the labor unions who looked after the industrial workers rights and the civil-service reformers. A great example is Henry George the author who wrote Progress and Poverty, a strong believer in the injustice of the maldistribution of wealth and the unfairness of property owner’s profits. He wished for economic growth for all not just the wealthy.
Munchkins: I chose the lower class to represent the Munchkins. They are enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the East (Banker Boss) until Dorothy’s house falls on her. They are the product of the big wealth gap being created during this industrial growth. When Dorothy steps in as the emerging middle class they are hopeful for a new era where there is the possibility of climbing the ladder of success. They are also big fans of Glinda (Populists) who is known for fighting for the people’s rights and trying to have more fairness economically.
Glinda: Glinda is seen as savior throughout the whole movie, she’s the one that grants Dorothy her slippers and helps her throughout the journey. Populist were strong believers in the free and unlimited