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The Wizard of Oz and the allegory of the Populist movement

As seen through the Littlefield Theory
by

Cody Moore

on 27 September 2012

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Transcript of The Wizard of Oz and the allegory of the Populist movement

Populism what is it? Heard of The
Wizard of Oz? These are
connected
with the
Littlefield
Theory In 1900, L Frank Baum, wrote
“The Wizard of Oz” as a
metaphor for
the Populist era. Baum was a
political activist in the 1890s
with an interest
in the gold and sliver debate. The gold and
silver debate
was a major
debate during
the Populist Era. ...And We're Off! Dorothy Dorothy represents
the American people
and the worker's union.
These people have been
led away from what they
know and are trying to
"find their way home". Scarecrow The Scarecrow
represents the
Western farmers.
These farmers were thought to be dumb and "not having a brain". Tin WoodMan The Tin WoodMan represents
the industrial workers. When
Dorothy found the Tinman he
was rusted and inmobile, just
like how many of the workers
felt. They felt this way because
during this time there was a
nation wide depression and
many people were losing jobs. Cowardy Lion In "The Wizard of Oz", the Cowardly
Lion represents William Jennings
Bryan. During this time, he was a
poilitician who supported the free
sliver movement. The Lion and Bryan
are alike because they both have a loud roar,
but no bite or power. Yellow Brick Road The Yellow Brick Road represents the Gold Standard. This era, gold was the type of currency the country used. Many wanted to switch to silver because it was cheaper. 16 ounces of silver = 1 ounce of gold Ruby Slippers ...Or Silver Slippers In the original book,
the slippers Dorothy were
given sliver not ruby. They
were changed to ruby for
the movie for looks. The
silver slippers represent
the silver standard.
Americans wanted this
because it was cheaper
than gold. The City of Oz The Yellow Brick Road
leads them to the city of Oz.
Oz is the abbreviation for
ounces, which
gold is weighed in. The Emerald City The Emerald City represents Washington D.C and the palace within represents the White House. Both of these are the main places in the countries where people go to look for order. The Wizard The Wizard represnts
Mark Hanna. Hanna
was a republican politician
from Ohio. He was able
to tell people he would
be able to do things for
them, just like
in the story. The Twister The tornado represents
a new political movement.
This movement is the free
silver movement. During this time,
farmers were suffering from
federal deflation. This means they
were receiving less money for their
goods and debt was growing larger.
Farmers wanted a fixed ratio of both
silver and gold. Some politicians were
behind the movement
while others were not. Wicked Witch of the West The Wicked Witch of the West
represents William McKinley.
During this era, he was running
aganist WIlliam Jennings Bryan
during the free silver movement
and won the presidency. McKinley
did not want silver he thought it
would create inflation but no new
jobs, would bankrupt railroads, and
would permanently damage the
economy. Flying Monkeys In the story, the flying monkeys
were once free to roam about and
do what they pleased until Oz became the ruler. This is what life was like for the Native Americans. They were pushed off their land
by Americans migrating
Westard. Uncle Henry In the late 1800's,
there was a famous farmer
who was the editor of a leading
farm magazine. His name
was Henry Cantwell
Wallace, and everyone called
him Uncle Henry. Does hearing this
make
you think of the
story differently? Does it make you like the
story more? less?
Do you feel let down
now that you know this? What do you think
Baum felt about each
Character? Lets take a
look at some again. "Once we were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master. […] This was many years ago, long before Oz came out of the clouds to rule over this land." What do you think Baum felt about
Bryan and other politicians at this
time? What did the wizard give him?
How did this actually affect him? Did the certificate give
the scarecrow brains?
How does this relate to
the way that politicians
placate the people now. Did the heart shaped watch
give the Tin man a soul?
Can the government give
you a heart and soul, or
Courage or a brain to think
for yourself? Lets recap and look at the
charcters through Baums
eyes. The Wizard represents all politicians
and the way that they hide behind
smoke and mirrors and give the people
validation of powers and abilities that
they already had. Examples in the
book and examples from the world
that you have seen? Baum thought of the Glinda
(The witch of the North) as he
thought of the Northern people.
They had the power to send
Dorothy home but she never
interviened. Just as the North
allowed the country to suffer
in the South and the West. The Tin man or industrial workers
and Unions were particularly
criticized by Baum. They had power
because they had the numbers but
they were paralyzed due to the
economic crisis. What was the
ecominc crisis of the Populis Era. Because the Farmers had so
few of numbers and they
appeared to be going along
with everything the government
was doing to them Baum
thought they looked dumb.
It took a very long time to
organize and form the Farm
workers Alliance. Toto represented the American
people. He was the one that
exsposed the cowardly lion for
what he truely was. He was also
the one that exposed the
Wizard for the snake oil
salesman that he was. The cowardly lion represneted
Bryan. He gave heated and
passionat speaches and he got a
lot of people to follow him. He
then caved and ran away the
first time Mckinley took a swing
at him. Lots of roar and no bite. The wicked witch of the west
represented the entire westward
expansion and the subsiquent
atrocities that were carried out
on the Native Americans.
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