Secrets of the Wizard of Oz
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March 17, 2009: The article details the possible allegorical meanings behind L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz. According to some scholars, the story is also a hidden metaphor for the debate in the late 19th century when it was argued during the economic depression at the time whether the United States should move away from the gold standard and back the dollar with silver instead of gold. The article also details which character or element in the story stands for what real life element. The theory discussed in the article was first put forward by high school teacher Henry Littlefield.

Highlights from Littlefield's theory on metaphorical meanings of The Wizard of Oz:

  • Dorothy = embodies the "Everyman American Spirit"
  • Toto = Tee-totalers pushing for Prohibition
  • Tin Woodsman = Industrial workers
  • Scarecrow = Farmers
  • Cowardly Lion = William Jennings Bryan, who could have riden a populist wave to the Presidency if he'd found the courage to be radical
  • Wicked Witch = Mark Hanna, industrialist and campaign manager to President William McKinley.
  • The Wizard = US Presidents of the late 19th Century
  • Emerald City = Washington, D.C.
  • Oz = Short for Ounces, the unit used for measuring gold and silver
  • Yellow Brick Road = the gold standard
  • Winged Monkeys = Native Americans or Chinese Railroad Workers, in either case exploited by the West.
  • The Ruby Slippers were actually made of silver in the novel. So the solution to get back to the America she loved was to take silver everywhere the gold had gone. (The movie used ruby red for better visual appeal given the black & white to color transition, and though it made for a better film, it sort of ruined the hidden metaphor in the process.)

See Also


2. Video: Ted-Ed - explores the whole theory in a 5-minute watch

Game and Story Use

  • Stories for children - including but not limited to "The Wizard of Oz" may have more than one layer of hidden meaning in them. For GMs with a taste for the perverse, the heroes of one's childhood could have all sorts of hidden occult meanings - which could be used by occultists in search of arcane secrets, or be invoked for boosts of power.
  • Such allegorical themes and elements can also be used by GMs to create setting elements, NPCs, and villains - which might resonate more strongly in the imagination of the players.
  • Children's stories can often have layers intended for adult readers. For other examples, Dr. Seuss famously wrote in metaphors about racism, imperialism, and isolationism.
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