The Wizard of Oz A Great Children’s Story -ORPolitical Allegory? Most of us enjoy watching The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy with her faithful companions follow the YELLOW-BRICK ROAD in order to help our young heroine “get back home.” But did you know that the children’s story, written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 had many literary teachers and historians recognizing certain aspects of their own time? Did you also know that many of the characters we love today: Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, the Cowardly Lion…all have a connection to political cartoons of the day? Here are just a few of them. See if you recognize them… I hope you recognize Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and of course Toto too. This is W. W. Denslow’s original illustration for Mr. Baum’s book. Here is the Tin-Man who in the 1890s was a common caricature of the “new” Industrialized Man. This was a common sarcastic cartoon of President Cleveland as the “Cowardly Lion” and shows other politicians as monkeys. Do you remember the “flying monkeys?” Remember the cyclone that whisks Dorothy away to the land of Oz? In the 1890s a cyclone (tornado) was used to represent political upheaval. And What About the Emerald City? Well, first off, it’s not the “EMERALD city! It is dull gray. The only time it LOOKS Green is when our heroes put their “emeraldcolored glasses” on in the book. So what city do you think would the Emerald City (Remember it’s really gray) most closely resemble in 1890s America? And just what about those RUBY slippers that Everyone but Dorothy wants? In the book…they’re SILVER! Ok, ok…too much Information or not enough fact to back up my weird claim? STOP LYING TO ME, MR. PALERMO! Let’s Start Back to the 1890s…what was really going on at the time? • The “Populist” Movement was in full swing. This was a political party who insisted on changing the gold standard to a more “fair” system based on silver. You see the populists were made up of poor farmers of the Midwest (Yeah, that’s right young men and women…like in Kansas) who relied on their politicians to protect them from the big, bad industrialists….like John D. Rockefeller. The Populist’s idea stemmed from “bimetallism”. This term wanted a 16 to 1 ratio of silver to gold. What does this mean? It means that for every 16 ounces of silver you could exchange it for 1 ounce of gold. Since the farmer’s had more silver than gold many of the “little people” wanted this to be the standard for America. = They were worried that… If we only followed the gold standard… America would be ruined. Following this “yellow-brick” road would lead only to the Emerald City where the green money that is produced has no value. Dorothy realizes this and her “silver” slippers send her back home with the new knowledge that will help her family back in Kansas! So DON’T FOLLOW THE BLASTED YELLOW BRICK ROAD! Assignment • Lets make a list of the main characters in the Wizard of Oz…also add any other characters from the movie/book. • Using the main characters, create your own symbolism for modern day. You must draw the characters and explain what they represent and why. (large white sheet of paper) • Choose three subordinate characters for the assignment. • You have tomorrow to work on this as well.