Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz in a children's novel that has become a staple in American pop culture. The popularity could be attributed to the imaginative characters and world that Baum created as well as the classic film adaptation from 1939. The novel also encompasses a lot of basic American values and ideologies that really resinate within our culture.

The concept of the American dream can be found throughout the novel. The idea that you can achieve whatever you desire through hard work and determination is a staple of the values this nation was built upon. Oz is presented as a land where anything is possible. In the novel, Dorothy is a very young girl who wants to return to her home in Kansas after she is uprooted by a cyclone. Dorothy is a strong character despite her age, and she is able to make the journey through the often treacherous Oz fueled by her desire to make it home. She endures a lot through her journey but with the help of her friends the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Woodsman, she is able to defeat the Wicked Witch among other foes. Even after the Wizard breaks his promise of bringing Dorothy home she doesn't give up. Her endurance leads her back to Glinda the Good Witch who tells her that by knocking the heels of her silver slippers and saying where she'd like to go than she can finally return home. Dorothy is reworded in the novel for her kindness and strength by getting exactly what she wanted. This demonstrates the American Dream.

The American Dream is also about being able to reinvent yourself and always having an opportunity to try again. The Wizard of Oz in the novel is revealed to be a mere human. Oz is a man who was born in Omaha. He was a gifted ventriloquist and also a balloonist in the circus. One day after a ballooning mishap he accidentally floated into the land of Oz. Upon seeing the sight of this man in his balloon, the people of Oz gave the man the title of a powerful wizard. Oz decided to go along with this story and reinvented himself as a great and powerful man. Back at home Oz was just an average guy but in Oz he had the power to have cities built in his name. This is the same ideology that many immigrants moving to American have. It's the idea that in American they can make a name for themselves. America holds the potential of succes and new beginning. So in this way the land of Oz is a metaphor for the United States. In a way Oz represents the American ideal since Baum displays actual American locations as places that are very desolate and dreary.