Inquiry 2b The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was originally written and published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum. It was extremely popular among children and adults alike (Greydanus, n.pag.); so much that several Broadway plays were made on the book…
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Although the main story for the MGM film adaptation of the book remained the same, some parts were altered for example the wicked witch of the east’s shoes (Rudolph, n.pag.). The film provided a graphical demonstration of the characters and the story which is why few years later, an article written by Henry Littlefield made it an allegory on populism (Littlefield, 47). The book and the film provide a rich cultural text to be analyzed for the presence of the economical and political parable many claim it to have. Littlefield was the first person to have interpreted The Wizard of Oz as having an economic parable after which many others also claimed the book and film to be riddled with political symbolism. Later Rockoff also made an effort to reveal the connections between the Populist movement, Baum’s views and the book as interpreted as an economic parable (1). Russel B. Nye and Martin Gardner also wrote a book in which they provided an appreciation for Baum’s writing (Winterich, 42) and uncovered how Baum incorporated hidden meanings to reflect the environment of the time. By effectively using symbolism, Baum represented Dorothy as the common American people (Taylor, 5) and the Witch of the East represented the monetary interest of the industrialist who were supported by their gold standard allies (Taylor, 6). Many other characters symbolize the various players and stakeholders involved in the Populist movement. Between 1897 and 1902, Baum had settled in South Dakota where he also started a journal called Saturday Pioneer (McGroarty, n.pag.). According to Littlefield, Baum noticed the hardships of the Western farmers who were now raising their voice against the hardships they were going through (48). As a result, Baum’s writing was influenced by the Populist movement that was started to protect the interests of the farmers. The Peoples Party or the Populist Party as it was more commonly known as was started by a group of farmers. Then in the 1930s America experienced the Great Depression which was the most severe and prolonged period of recession that damaged the economy. Followed by the great depression, World War II was approaching which meant that the government had to make an effort to improve the economy (Perseverance and Responsiveness: The Depression and War Years", 36). According to Littlefield’s interpretation, The Wizard of Oz has provided the younger generation with a benign analysis of the Populist movement (57). Hansen presents an argumentation in his article pointing out that the interpretations that link The Wizard of Oz and populism are flawed. The first reason he provides for his argument is the lack of an autonomous discovery of the allegorical interpretation of the book (Hansen, 257). The authors who have interpreted the story as an economical parable have not carried out any independent study. They have merely followed the lead of Henry Littlefield who first came up with the idea of the allegorical interpretation. Also, those who support the interpretation mention that Baum was a democrat. Often his support for women’s suffrage has been linked with his populist-democrat affinity. However, Hansen points out that Baum was a Republican who regarded his paper the Saturday Pioneer as a Republican paper. He also presents another interpretation of the book as all the characters were monarchists and not democrats. Hansen interprets the film as representing symbolism through its use of colors and hues (262). While the
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