Is "The Wizard of Oz" really about Populism?

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  1. tHErEDpILL profile image85
    tHErEDpILLposted 6 years ago

    Henry M. Littlefield was an was an American educator, author and historian who is best none for his analysis of "The Wizard of Oz".  He breaks down the movie and connects characters, themes, etc. to Populism.  Some agree, some disagree.  Either way I thought this was interesting.  Where do you stand?

    1. couturepopcafe profile image61
      couturepopcafeposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I don't see it. Maybe in the character of the old woman trying to take away Toto. She was an influencial citizen over the farmer. The Emerald City was a happy place, nothing about the populace being discontent or the elitism of the great and powerful Oz.

    2. Evan G Rogers profile image73
      Evan G Rogersposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      NO, the Wizard of Oz was an argument to have a bi-metallic standard for money. Believe it or not, the book was designed to argue AGAINST having a central bank and fiat money (basically, what I have been arguing for since coming to hubpages)

      "Follow the yellow brick road" - the gold road. They kept following the path of gold.

      Dorothy's slippers were ACTUALLY SILVER - in the original story, her shoes were silver. The movie industry changed them to ruby to show off technicolor.

      The charactersThe tinman represented the industrial north who would be more flexible with silver. The Scarecrow represented the farmer who was a bit too dumb to realize what silver would do for them.

      And the Lion represented William Jennings Bryant who didn't have the courage to do stand for metal currency, however, he had spoken in support of it regularly.

      The Wizard of Oz was the President

      Each of the wizards represented a different economic player as well.
      Here is Mark Thornton's take on it (he's an economist)

      The Emerald (green) City is Washington and the Wizard of Oz (ounce of gold) is the president, who manipulates the population on behalf of the big-city banks. The Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Munchkins represent different groups of people while the Cowardly Lion represents William Jennings Bryan [an opponent of the gold standard] and Dorothy stands for “everyman,” the average, good natured citizen, who does not have a clue about the underlying causes of the problems of society. The Yellow Brick Road is the gold standard…Baum’s story parallels the American banking system where the government and big banks controlled the economy in support of the industrial and financial interests in the East to the detriment of farmers, labor, and rural America, especially in the South and West.

      Baum’s book was written after only three decades of nationalized banking; the creation of the Fed in 1913 produced a system even more centralized than the one the Lincoln administration had recreated.


      Gresham's Law:
      An important thing to note is Gresham's Law. If you want a silver and a gold standard, then the two metals' values can not be directly linked to each other, or else hoarding ensues.

      If you make $25 worth 1 ounce of gold (yes, this is what gold used to cost), then that is what a dollar costs! 1 oz. = $25.

      However, if you then make $5 worth 1 oz of silver, then you suddenly will find massive shortages of metal.

      This is because of Gresham's Law. It basically states that you can only define a fiat currency off of one commodity because the relative values between commodities is ever-changing. Thus, one day the ratio will be correct, the next day silver will be worth more than $5, and the next day gold will be worth more than 5 oz. of silver... etc.

      The only correct way to have a bi-metallic fiat currency is to define the currency as one quantity of one metal ($25 = 1 oz Gold), and then let the money ALSO be redeemed at a bank for the MARKET PRICE of silver (whatever that may be).



    3. Dave Mathews profile image60
      Dave Mathewsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      That's totally ludicrous. Why would anyone try to analyse a fictional child's bedtime story?

  2. steveamy profile image61
    steveamyposted 6 years ago

    That analysis has been refuted by most serious historians but it is a great devices to get students engaged in the politics of the 1890's

  3. tobey100 profile image61
    tobey100posted 6 years ago

    No.  It's about a little girl and her dog that, in a dream, are transported to another land via a tornado and they meeat a good witch and a wicked witch and a scarecrow and a tin man and a lion and a wizard and she gets home and wakes up and everybody smiles and they run the credits.  That's pretty much it.  I always thought it was about nuclear disarmament but turns out I was wrong.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar as they say.

    1. Evan G Rogers profile image73
      Evan G Rogersposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      It's actually an economics lesson.

  4. ptosis profile image72
    ptosisposted 6 years ago

    From url

    "A key plank in the Populist platform was a demand for "free silver" -- that is, the "free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold" at a fixed ratio of sixteen to one."

    From url … sard-of-oz

    "The Farmers' Alliances wanted greater government regulation of railroads, tax reform and the free coinage of silver to increase the money supply."

    From url:

    Hugh Rockoff writes that "The land of Oz is the East [in which] the gold standard reigns supreme and where an ounce (Oz) of gold has almost mystical significance" . . .. Rockoff goes on to identify the Wicked Witch of the East with Grover Cleveland, the gold Democrat who, as president, "led the [successful] repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of [sic, should be "in"] 1893" . . ..

  5. Lisa HW profile image66
    Lisa HWposted 6 years ago

    Maybe it's me, but I really think that's quite a stretch.  This thread, however, got me thinking - which led to putting my own thoughts on the meaning of the story into a Hub (so thanks - not that the thread was created to give me an idea for a Hub, of course - but I wanted to acknowledge where the idea came from and say "thanks" anyway smile .

    1. tHErEDpILL profile image85
      tHErEDpILLposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Glad to be your muse Lisa smile

    2. Evan G Rogers profile image73
      Evan G Rogersposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Actually, the book was an argument against paper money.


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