The Wizard of OZ, an allegory
Mrs. C is a really big fan of “The Wizard of Oz.” There is a wall in one half of my man cave that I allow her to display her 20 different “Wizard of Oz” plates framing a poster of Dorothy and her three friends on the yellow brick road.
I like the movie, so I allow the display.
This Christmas one station broadcast this movie in a loop all day long and Mrs. C stayed glued to that channel. It reminded me of a visitor a few years back who had to explain the real meaning of the movie to us.
This sort of friend, then acquaintance and now stranger was invited to dinner one night as he was alone and Mrs. C has a way of taking in the lonely from time to time, a way which I have tried unsuccessfully to divert.
While showing this person our home he had to comment on the “Wizard of Oz” wall.
“You know of course, that the movie was really an allegory on the corruption of capitalism and the benefits of communism don’t you?”
“Why no, I/we don’t.”
He went on to explain how every part of the movie, the Capitalist bad witches, the Communist good witches, the false god of following the yellow brick road (gold you know) and the Wizard who represented Blah…Blah…Blah. Everything had some inner meaning of battling economic ideals.
And I thought it was just some sweet movie of a little girl saving her dog from a nasty old crone.
There is a locker room saying, “some people could even ruin a wet dream.” Not a very proper or descriptively pretty saying, but it does make a point.
This guy could sure ruin a good movie.
I’ve since done some research on the allegory of “The Wizard of Oz” and found several interpretations.
The silver slippers (They were silver in the original book, changed to ruby for the color in the movie)and yellow brick road represented some economic issues of the time the story was written. There is the capitalism/communism interpretation, there is a farmer vs industrialization with the scarecrow representing the farmer, the tin man industry and the cowardly lion Williams Jennings Bryant. Apparently some smart people can find a way to make this movie about anything they find to be important.
Seems to me that if a story is interpreted multiple ways, it is either a lousy allegory, or people are just looking for stuff that isn't there. An allegory shouldn't slap you in the face, but it should be subliminally understood in one specific way, or what is the point?
I’ve always wondered with this or any story, does the author always have an underlying theme? (I know, theme and allegory not exactly the same, but close enough for this post.)
In school, English literary teachers always had the same question for every novel or play ever written, “What was the authors theme to this story?”
Does a story have to have a theme?
Does an author really sit down and think,
“What story can I tell that will make people be nice to their neighbors and eat all their vegetables?”
I don’t think so. I believe most authors think,
“Hey, I have an idea for a really good story!”
Anyway I did learn in my Literary/English courses in school that the answer to “What was the authors theme” was always,
“Man’s inhumanity to man!”
I never really understood what that answer means, but it always got a “Very good” nod from my teachers.
So what is the story of “The Wizard of Oz” really about?
It seems really smart people can make it about almost anything.
It could be another example of “Man’s inhumanity to man” or as Sigmund Freud once responded about the sexual significance of a cigar in a dream,
“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!”