The following is a compilation of several views of the monetary reform symbolism used by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Interpretations vary, particularly on the lesser figures, but this will give the readers good reference points to begin their consideration of the matter. Was the symbolism consciously or subconsciously employed? We cannot know with certainty, nor does it really matter. What matters is that Baum understood the issues involved and employed them in Oz. Millions of Americans have seen Oz, generally several times. Knowingly or not, Oz has given us a key to understanding the solutions to the economic issues we face in our time if we could only accept that we have had the power to regain our bank-mortgaged homes all along, just as Dorothy did. Remember: “There’s no place like home.”
Dorothy – everyman and woman, a simple, Populist character from the heartland of American Populism, Kansas.
Scarecrow – farmers, agricultural workers, ignorant of many city things but honest and able to understand things with a little education. A strong supporter of Dorothy (Populism).
Tin Man – industrial workers; a woodchopper whose entire body has been replaced with metal parts, thus dehumanized by machinery (robot-like with no heart) in need of oil (liquidity/money) to work, otherwise unemployed (he was idle for a year) without oil.
Cowardly Lion – Wm. Jenning Bryan, a famous politician and Populist Presidential candidate in 1896 and 1900 (Oz was written in 1900) for monetary reform and a terrific orator (i.e., roar). Bryan was attacked as being somewhat cowardly for not supporting the US war with Spain. As a Populist Presidential candidate he sought to go to the capitol city – the Emerald city. Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech is posted below.
Ruby Slippers – these are silver in the book. Hollywood changed them to ruby red to take advantage of the new Technicolor used in the movie version, evidently ignorant of the meaning of the silver. Byran and many other Greenbackers (monetary reformers supporting use of debt-free US Notes like Lincoln’s Greenbacks to increase the money supply and thereby end the depression then) shifted their tactics to the promotion of adding silver to the lawful coinage of America (i.e., to promoting a bi-metallic standard rather than the theoretically purer, fiat Greenbacks) when they realized they could thereby gain the backing of the powerful silver mining interests and still increase the money supply (without debt) to more than just gold. Silver thus became a symbol of overcoming a purely gold standard with the limited money supply and banker control that resulted in. Hence the silver slippers were extremely important in the book, as silver coin was in reality.
Kansas – a Populist stronghold, home of Dorothy, symbolized the national heartland.
Cyclone (toronado) – the free silver movement, compared at the time to a political “cyclone” that swept Kansas, Nebraska and the heartland and aimed at Washington; also the depression of the 1890’s which was compared to a “cyclone” in a famous monetary primer of the time and which robbed people of their homes and farms.
Oz – corresponds to standard measure of gold ounce – “oz”; America, where the gold oz standard held sway, but where the use of the silver oz (slippers) could free the slaves.
Emerald City – political center of Oz /Washinton D.C. To get there a politician had to take the gold way (gold standard); everyone there was forced to wear “green spectacles” – to see the world through another color (green) of money. This illusion upheld the Wizard’s power.
Glinda, the Good Witch of the South – the US South, which solidly supported Bryan and reform, as did much of the North (home of the other good witch in the book). The East and West (homes of the bad witches) supported McKinley.
Good Witch of the North – Bryan’s Populist supporters in the North and Northwest. The South and North largely supporter Bryan in his Presidential campaign; the wicked East and West supported McKinley who was for the gold standard
Wicked Witch of the East – Wall Street bankers in NY, led by J.P. Morgan. President Grover Cleveland (of NY) was their pro-gold standard candidate.
Wicked Witch of the West – draught and/or J.D. Rockefeller, by then a Cleveland banker (still viewed as “out West” from a NY perspective). President Wm. McKinley (a gold standard supporter from Ohio) was his candidate. She was a one-eyed witch , i.e., opposed to the twometal bi-metallic system; in the book she enslaves Winkies in the West much as the Wicked Witch in the East enslaves the Munchkins; dissolved by water symbolizing real water curing draught and/or liquidity ending the depression
Wizard – a charlatan who politician-like can change forms in the book and who tricked the citizens of Oz into believing he is all powerful. Sometimes compared to a behind-the-scenes manipulator “pulling-the-strings” of politicians just as Wall Street’s bankers do today. Mark Hanna, such a man at the time, has been suggested as the real life model for the Wizard. He said “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember the second”. Such an all-powerful view of money is a deceit noted under the word “Emerald City,” above. Baum was well informed – he knew banks manipulated politicians and the people and commonly used deceit to fool them into submission. $700 billion or we face a “global financial meltdown” ring a bell? Bankers create money – a trickery certainly known to Baum.
Yellow Brick Road – the gold way or standard, composed of gold bricks.
Munchkins – the common people of the East, [wage] slaves to the Wicked Witch of the East.
Deadly Poppy Field – the anti-imperialism movement of the late 1890’s which reformers felt was distracting Byran from monetary reform (putting him to sleep on the issue), saved from that fate by the mice (the little people, Populist supporters).
Winged Monkey’s – Plains Indians: “Once we were free people living happily in he forest.” – monkey leader. Like the winkies and munchkins, enslaved by the wicked witch and not freed until water (liquidity) destroys her hold on them.
Dorothy’s “party” – party is used 8 times referring to Dorothy’s followers, a reference to the Populist Party, trying to get Dorothy to the capitol city (Washington).
Oil – liquidity, priming the pump of the economy, enabling employment of the unemployed (the Tin Man had been idle for a year without it).
Toto – the prohibitionists (“with Toto trotted along soberly behind her”), a movement which followed the bi-metallist Populist Party.
Kalidahs – predators in the book probably representing newspaper reporters who overwhelmingly opposed to Byran as their papers were heavily influenced by banking and business interests.
Stork – a female stork in the book referring to the women’s sufferage movement which supported the Populists. OZ = ounces The Yellow Brick Road = Gold Ruby Slippers (was silver slippers ) = Silver Poppies = Opium or Drugs Snow = Cocaine Emerald City = The Federal Reserve The Munchkins = The Little People or the Small People as BP CEO would have it! Straw-man = Some say Farmers some say “straw man” Tin Man = Some say industrial workers others say it represents T.I.N. Tax Identification Number Cowardly Lion = William Jennings Bryant who wanted to use silver instead of gold as standard currency. The Wizard = The President Toto = The Press Dorothy = The common American man or woman Wizard of Oz Symbolism can help you discover how to have faith in yourself and your ability to handle life’s complexities. From time to time as you follow the Yellow Brick Road, you just may get lost in the woods. Learn how to integrate the trio of capabilities offered by the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.
|The route back to The Yellow Brick Road is by discovering that:|
|1.||You can make a mistake|
|2.||You can correct it, and|
|3.||You can change your direction through the knowledge gained in the process|
So it’s like with each step you (Dorothy) take on the yellow brick road, contained within it are three mini-steps. (Dorothy’s three friends)
|Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion|
|Mini-step 1||Take step off The Yellow Brick Road||Scarecrow||Brain – make mistake|
|Mini-step 2||Realize that you’re stuck in the Woods||Tin Man||Heart – discover mistake|
|Mini-step 3||Redirect self back onto The Yellow Brick Road||Cowardly Lion||Courage – correct mistake|
|Equals One Step Taken||Take a step forward on The Yellow Brick Road||Dorothy||You – acquire awareness|
Here we discuss the various ways one can get stuck in repetitive cycles.
|1.||Judging yourself for making mistakes and thus getting stuck in the inertia of – guilt – “I should’ve known better!”|
|2.||Getting stuck in the short-term ‘enjoyment’ of the mistake – addiction – temporarily mistaking its ‘pleasure’ aspect for your real goal.|
|3.||Halting the learning and growing process – fear/lack of faith – for whatever lies ahead on The Yellow Brick Road.|
The next stage is learning how to become unstuck from our mistakes:
|Reclaiming the Power of the Red Slippers|
|1.||Support yourself with the awareness that you were doing the best you could with the understanding and knowledge you possessed then. I.e. if you had of known better you would’ve done better, etc. Is it time to forgive yourself?|
|2.||Refocus your goal from short-term pleasure of what you found in the woods, to the long-term pleasure of your goal of being back home in Kansas.|
|3.||Trust in the love you have for yourself – by getting back in contact with your inner guidance. Find out what works best for you: it could be through dreams, meditation, writing (journal/write poems) or by opening up a direct dialogue with yourself. Thus revealing the path back!|
|The message contained within Wizard of Oz Symbolism is that one can harness the personal power of the Red Slippers by integrating these:|
- Symbolism of Scarecrow/Brain - personal choices
- Symbolism of Tin Man/Heart - love and intuition
- Symbolism of Cowardly Lion/Courage - fearless, unwavering faith in yourself