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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum, 1900
Transcript of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum, 1900
This is the story of a young girl, whose name is Dorothy. One day she is caught up in a cyclone with her dog, Toto. They magically get to the Land of Oz, a parallel world.
She wants to get back to Kansas, but it's not easy: she'll have to face and overcome many trials, but she won't be alone. During her travel in this magical land, she'll meet some new friends, that will help her to win her way home.
Place: Kansas vs. The Land of Oz
The book: Themes (3)
How do we think we are or how we're afraid to be vs. Who we actually are
How we'd like to be and what we'd like to become
The reader is glad to know that all these characters find out something about themselves that they didn't know before ( or, at least, that had they ignored). And he is happy as much as they are.
The same can't be said about Dorothy.
At the end, she's the lost little child she's always known she's been.
She lost herself in the Land of Oz, but she had lost herself in Kansas too, many years before.
2.The Good and the Bad
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum, 1900
People&Colours: Kansas vs. The Land of Oz
The book: Themes (1)
Aunt Em: " When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober
; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were
also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now."
Uncle Henry: " Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was
also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke."
Who saved Dorothy from being grey? Toto, her black little dog.
On the other hand,
the Land of Oz and its many countries, has bright colours:
The Munchkin Country is
The Winkie Country is
The Gillikin Country is
The Quadling Country is
The Emerald City is
"People" here aren't human: they are witches, talking animals and so on.
They still perfectly behave and act as humans.
This is meant to be a book written for children.
On the right side:
The Good Witch of the North is, as the name suggests, good, nice and sweet, as well as The Good Witch of the South. She helps Dorothy, and, of course, she doesn't die.
Dorothy is pure of mind and spirit. She wins her way back home.
thinks he doesn't have a brain. But he actually does have one, and the reader can tell this since the very beginning
The same goes for the
. He thinks he doesn't have a heart, but he actually does
? He thinks he's not brave at all, but he actually is
The Wizard of Oz
Victor Fleming, 1939
Many details within the plot are omitted or altered. Here we have a few significative ones:
Significative metaphorical differences between the movie and the book
Representation of Kansas
Kansas in the movie looks less gloomy: Dorothy has friends there, friends that love her, and she can play all around the field. But, there's another character which makes things harder for the child: Miss Gulch, a neighbour. For some reason, she hates Toto and wants him dead.
Aunt Em and uncle Henry don't want any problem so they decide to give Miss Gulch the dog.
Dorothy, because of her relatives' weakness, runs away with Toto. And once back, she's left alone with the cyclone, because everybody had already hidden.
On the other hand, in the book the aunt and the uncle seem to care of Dorothy a bit more. They are worried for their niece when the cyclon comes.
When the cyclone came
Even Baum, in the book, carefully plays with colours: he describes Kansas as grey and monochromatic and the Land of Oz as the most colorful place ever existed.
In the movie, this idea is given with the actual colour: real life, in Kansas, is shot in black and white, but once Dorothy gets to the magical land, the movie turns into a colour film.
The importance of colour
The effect created by this technique is that the unreal world looks more real than Kansas.
Dorothy's last name is Gale. And she's actually a little gale looking for some wisdom and justice for her dog.
- This is an unhappy ending. In a musical, characters express their feelings singing. In Kansas, only Dorothy sings while in the Land of Oz everyone does. To leave all of this, going back to the status quo, would be " a lobotomy of the soul".
- Here's the answer. This is an orphan girl’s love for her surrogate mother.
" She finds herself with a heart full of love eager to give it, but through circumstances and personalities, can apparently find none in return. In this dilemma of childish frustration, she is hit on the head in a real cyclone and through her unconscious self, she finds escape in her dream of Oz. There she is motivated by her generosity to help everyone first before her little orphan heart cries out for what she wants most of all (the love of Aunt Em) — which represents to her the love of a mother she never knew.”
But then, why does Dorothy want to go back to Kansas? Kansas must have something The Land of Oz has not.
The book explanation
Dorothy to the Scarecrow: “No matter how dreary and grey our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”
Dorothy to Glinda (2): "My greatest wish now," she added, "is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it."
What's the moral?
Three main versions:
" Home sweet home"
Leave the dullness and the monotony to start a better new colourful life. In the movie, the song " Over The Rainbow" explains very well this concept.
Dorothy to Glinda (1):“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
Another way of reading the book: Populism
Oz is the abbreviation for " ounce", a word used in measurement systems.
Dorothy is the " everyman"
The Scarecrow is the farmer
The Tin Woodman comes from the working class
The Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan itself
Oz is the president of the US
The Wicked Witch of the East symbolizes capitalism
The Wicked Witch of the West symbolizes the railway monopoly
The Emerald City is green as dollars
This legend started when the movie was first released on VHS in 1989, till the most recent Blu-ray edition revealed this legend is false.
On the left, in the background, you may see a strange figure. For years it was believed that a munchkin hanged himself during the production of the movie.
" The Scarecrow trips over because he saw the hanging body".
An urban legend
In the background you see an exotic bird, taken on loan from the Los Angeles Zoo.
Kansas, as it is described, it's a sad, depressing place.
" When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great
on every side. [...] Even
the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same grey
color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now
the house was as dull and grey
as everything else."
" The cyclone had set the house down very gently--for a cyclone--in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were
lovely patches of rich greensward
all about, with
stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits
. Banks of
were on every hand, and
birds with rare and brilliant plumage
sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small
brook, rushing and sparkling along between green grassy banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl
who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies."
The book: Themes (2)
On the bad side:
The Wicked Witch of the East is bad, evil and cruel.
This is the reason why, same goes for her sister, she dies.
The Wizard of Oz is neither good nor bad. This is why the author doesn't tell us what will become of him, after he'll have left the land of Oz on his hot-air balloon ( which it had been filled with air, instead of the most reliable gas).
The book: Themes (1)
" Toto played all day long, and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly."
Land of Oz
With that being said, the book shows" what is good and what is bad", " what is right and what is wrong".
What is the final result on the reader?
While in the book Dorothy's shoes are ruby red, in the movie they're silvery, due to Technicolor reasons.
While in the movie all the characters that Dorothy meets look like some friends of her, in the book this doesn't happen.
The book is stronger than the actual movie ( possibly because children were supposed to watch it and reading is not as direct as a movie)
In the book there are more episodes ( The Tin Woodman tells his story, the Kalidas, the mice and their queen, the stork, 40 wolves and ravens, the Winged Monkeys and more)
Oz is a big floating head. In the book he's also a lady, a monster and a fireball
In the book the Wicked Witch of the East never leaves the castle. She doesn't have a crystal ball and her skin is not green.
In the movie the entire adventure was only a dream. In the book Dorothy really got to the Land of Oz.
Colour has a metaphorical meaning
Happy ending or not?
Where are her parents?
Her aunt and uncle don't love her as much as she'd like to, or they are simply not tenderhearted.
This last reason is less romantic and nostalgic than the first one. It seems like the most important thing is money.
Things are different for Oz though, because at the end the reader finds out that he's not a powerful wizard, but only a fearful incompetent old man.
H. M. LITTENFIELD, The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism.
H. ROCKOFF, The ‘Wizard of Oz’ as a Monetary Allegory.
G. RITTER, Silver Slippers and a Golden Cap: L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and Historical Memory in American Politics.