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Life Lessons From The Wizard Of Oz

Updated on April 7, 2014

The Wizard Of Oz is not just for kids.

Although "The Wizard of Oz" provided me much entertainment growing up, I gradually came to realize that this movie is much more than just a lighthearted story set to music about a girl from Kansas trying to find her way back home from some phantasmagorical fairytale land, battling adversity along the way. It is also an allegorical tale about the journey to self-discovery.

This movie classic was first released in 1939 in Technicolor and started appearing on TV in 1956, eventually becoming an annual tradition. If, like me, you are a Baby Boomer, you may have watched this movie every year around the Christmas holidays with your family so that by now, you've probably seen it over a hundred times and can recite many of its lines by heart.

Photo credit: dyndns.org

The Story of The Wizard Of Oz

If you have never seen "The Wizard Of Oz," it is about a Kansas farm girl, Dorothy Gale, who lives with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. She has a run-in with Almira Gulch, who tries to have her beloved dog, Toto, taken away and put to sleep. Dorothy tries to run away with Toto, but meets the kindly Professor Marvel, a traveling fortune teller who eventually convinces her to return home. She tries to do so but is swept away in her house by a cyclone and knocked unconscious.

When she wakes up, she find herself (along with Toto) transported to the magical land of Oz. She immediately runs into trouble when she finds out her house has landed on and killed the Wicked Witch of the East, the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy is desperate to get back home, and she receives some help from Glenda, the Good Witch of the North who advises her to "follow the Yellow Brick Road" to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz resides. Along the way, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, who wish for, respectively, "a brain," "a heart," and "the nerve." As they struggle to make it to the Emerald City to meet with the Wizard and have all their wishes granted, they have to continually defend themselves against the Wicked Witch of the West, who is out for revenge.

Some life lessons I learned from The Wizard Of Oz

This life-affirming movie introduced to me the idea that we may all possess certain talents and powers for which we do not give ourselves credit. Sometimes, we may even struggle to acquire these traits, totally oblivious to the fact that they have been a part of us all along.

The Scarecrow wishes for "a brain," but as it turns out, he has possessed keen intelligence all along. Throughout the movie, the plucky Scarecrow is the one who gets the motley foursome (and Toto) out of many a dangerous situation through his ingenuity, planning, and strategic thinking. As he learns in the end, sometimes, all it takes to realize your true intelligence is to have it pointed out to you and also receive some recognition for it.

As for the Tin Man, the very fact he desires "a heart" belies his true sentimentality, sensitivity, compassion and kindness, traits which he has also possessed in abundance all along. The only things he really needs are a box of Kleenex and an oil can to keep from getting stiff and rusty.

Despite his fears, the Cowardly Lion puts himself in harm's way as he, along with the Scarecrow and Tin Man, devise a plan to rescue Dorothy from the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West. As pointed out to him by the kindly "Wizard," who awards him a medal in recognition of his bravery, it is not bravado, but, rather, acting courageously even when feeling paralysed by fear, that is the true measure of courage.

Know thyself.

The Yellow Brick Road in "The Wizard Of Oz" for me symbolizes the path on the journey to self-knowledge.

The Ancient Greek aphorism, "know thyself," is often attributed to the great philosopher, Socrates (469-399 BC), who also declared that "the unexamined life is not worth living." If you have been innundated all your life with negative messages, the first thing that may come to mind when advised to "know thyself" is that you must be "brutally honest' with yourself and take a grueling inventory of all your defects, weaknesses, and limitations.

"The Wizard Of Oz" impressed on me the important idea that this advise, which may sound intimidating at first, should work both ways. To be truly objective about yourself, you must also take an inventory of all your strengths and assets. If you examine your life carefully and dispassionately, you may be surprised to remember all those times when you may very well have already demonstrated the very qualities you may desire, whatever they might be.

"The Wizard Of Oz" teaches that, often, the very things that we seek in life that we think we lack, whether they are personality traits or solutions to certain problems, lie within ourselves. Rather than seek out some external "all-knowing Wizard" (who, as it turns out, does not really exist), "The Wizard Of Oz" teaches us to look within ourselves for guidance. This movie also exhorts us to not be afraid to face life challenges and adversities, as they provide an opportunity to hone one's problem solving skills and discover hidden strengths.

Take a look at your own life. Is there some ability, talent, or power within you that you may have overlooked that is right under your nose? As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe so aptly put it, "As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live."

Here are some of my favorite scenes from The Wizard Of Oz.

Besides all its positive life-affirming messages, there are a number of cute and funny scenes from this feel-good movie that always bring a smile to my face. For some samples, check out the videos below.

The Tin Man dances.

I love the part when he stumbles out onto the Yellow Brick Road, breaks out into a tap dance, slaps his knees, thumps his chest, and toots his hat.

Dorothy scolds the Cowardly Lion for picking on Toto but then comforts him.

This is also the scene where the Tin Man, trying to be helpful, asks the Cowardly Lion, "Why don't you try counting sheep?"

The Cowardly Lion proudly sings "If I Were King Of Forest" and struts his stuff.

I think this scene has to be my very favorite. (He's so adorable!)

The flying monkeys march and chant "Oh We Oh! Yo Oh!"

Although I must have seen this movie over a hundred times, I never could decipher exactly what those flying monkeys were chanting. (Is it "Oh We Oh" or "Oleo"?)

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Well, it looks as if the jig is up!

How many times have you seen The Wizard Of Oz?

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Do you consider The Wizard Of Oz to be one of your all-time favorite movies?

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The Wizard of Oz (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)

Also available on Blu-Ray.

The Wizard of Oz (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)
The Wizard of Oz (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)

This 2-disc DVD set offers a far more spectacular viewing of "The Wizard Of Oz" than what you may remember seeing on TV. Besides the full length movie, it also includes many nifty extras for die-hard Oz fans.

 

Please share your thoughts about the Wizard of Oz.

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    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 3 years ago

      Neat explanation of the allegory

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, well done!

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      Especially considering the year this movie came out, it is one of those movies that truly is ahead of it's time. I also agree that the Wizard Of OZ has many of life's lessons incorporated into it. .... Oh, and by the way, Great lens, thanks for sharing this and bringing back some really great memories... Liked and Blessed

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I never did think of learning anything from the Wizard of Oz, but you are right. Often we already have the abilities and feelings that we desire.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Wizard of Oz is a all time great classic, I love it. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enjoyed my visit on your lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I love The Wizard of Oz, and quote from the movie all the time.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      My kids used to watch the movie over and over. They loved the story.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      We have a rule in our house. We can watch The Wizard of Oz movie only once a year, so it remains a super special treat like it was when we watched it on TV (before recording devices!). The books by L. Frank Baum, however, get read over and over and over! Nice work here.

    • teristazko profile image

      teristazko 5 years ago

      I love The Wizard of Oz. It is truly a classic!!! Probably one of my top 5 movies of all time. Thanks for sharing.

    • kimark421 profile image

      kimark421 5 years ago

      Great lens. I fell in love with this movie loooong ago, but was afraid of the flying monkeys at first. (they still give me the heebie jeebies a little. ssshhh, don't tell anyone)

    • greenmind profile image

      greenmind 5 years ago

      Really a brilliant lens. Great content, cool angle.

    • profile image

      grandmapearl 5 years ago

      This movie is my all-time favorite! I really liked how you put everything in perspective. Made me think about it all over again! Great Lens!

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 5 years ago

      The Wizard of Oz has always been on my top 5 list. Many times it has been #1. It has such heart quality to it. Great lens full of insight! (My friend always thought Nabisco Oreo cookies should use the flying monkey chant in their commercials. After that I always thought they were saying "O-Re-O."

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 5 years ago

      Good insights into the movie, I loved the Wizard of Oz as a child, but remember trying to watch it with my children, my daughter was a bit afraid of the lion...yes, the cowardly lion:-) I thought even that could be a lesson for her in itself...maybe in time it has become so, I'll have to ask her.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 5 years ago from US

      Love the Wizard of Oz and love these lessons too ;)

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 5 years ago

      This is the first time I have seen the Wizard of Oz broken down with such a thought provoking way. Great job and a great lens.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 5 years ago

      Nice twist on how we learn life lessons.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your story and especially the part know thyself

    • lyttlehalfpint profile image

      lyttlehalfpint 5 years ago from Canada

      classical, have to love OZ! great lens

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      It is a good learning story, and fun too. Nice lens.

    • SophiaStar LM profile image

      SophiaStar LM 5 years ago

      What a great take on this timeless classic. One line that is always in my brain and that I change out the words for fun (like I did for my about lens) is "Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!" Love the Wizard of Oz. Have you seen the musical Wicked yet? An amazing prequel to this story!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Great article! My son used to watch it over and over again from a video tape recording and he loves it to this day. Wish I had counted how many times he watched it. :)

    • micheleburke profile image

      Michele Marie Burke 5 years ago

      I too love the Wizard of Oz for so many reasons. I have a ruby slippers keyring. Good reminder to seek 'home' and stay centered. Thanks for the lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the Wizard of Oz, thanks for sharing

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      Very fun! I love The Wizard of Oz...it's a true classic! Thanks for sharing these life lessons, great application! :)

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Well done! Lots of good life lessons here.

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      megabu717 5 years ago

      I enjoyed the Wizard of Oz but in cartoon version.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 5 years ago

      Yes, the Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favorites and I had to have the Anniversary edition for my own collection (I had it on video, then on DVD, now on Blu-Ray). Great job.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      I remember going over to my best friend's house to watch this movie. She had a color TV and we didn't. When the screen changed from black and white to color, we were always amazed. Most of the younger readers of this page probably don't remember when color TVs were a luxury item. (BTW I am a RocketSquid Mentor)

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      nicely done

    • profile image

      bdkz 5 years ago

      Love this lens!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      Adding this to my "Somewhere over the Rainbow" lens. Good job. I also see it as a message movie about life lessons.

    • ColwoodWheelWorks profile image

      ColwoodWheelWorks 5 years ago

      This brought back some childhood memories for me.

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 5 years ago

      Interesting how apply some of the themes in this movie to matters we face in our everyday lives!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Very nicely done! The movie is great and so was your lens!!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I've seen this movie so many times, yet haven't looked as deeply into as you have. Really good insight!

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      Definitely one of my all time favorite movies. I've seen it countless times. Wonderful lens!

    • MarilynImanse profile image

      MarilynImanse 5 years ago

      I have only seen this once or twice, many years ago. I did not realize the messages there for us. Thanks for sharing. I will have to get the movie and watch it again, soon.

    • BobBlackUK profile image

      BobBlackUK 5 years ago

      Interesting lens. I guess the lesson is: You can be anything you want to be if you want it hard enough.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'm a baby boomer and, like you, I grew up watching the Wizard of Oz at least once a year. It's definitely high on my favorites list. Love the videos of my favorite scenes!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      The Wizard of Oz is always a fun movie. I'm looking forward to introducing it to my granddaughters! Love your lessons learned from it!

    • profile image

      RCM 5 years ago

      Outstanding Lens. Also excellent perception regarding the Wizard of Oz.