The Wizard of Oz: Cherished children’s book or clever allegory?

Posted 17 November 2015 at 12:00 am


The constant comparison Mr. Kent makes between the Republican Party within Orleans County and the Omniscient Oz is beginning to hinge on the verge of litany. I’m not quite sure, from what I gather through his write-ups, how educated he truly is when it comes to the possible allegory of Oz.

It appears that he might just be going off of Lindsey Graham’s reference to Trump’s charm fading with the public’s realization that “there’s nothing behind the curtain.” And in turn, calling Trump “the Almighty Oz” in the Republican field.

If that’s the case, it is a carriage of injustice that a shallow statement, made over 100 years after Baum penned his “modernized fairytale,” would overshadow the depths of its conceivable symbolic nature.

Many scholastic debaters have argued whether Frank Baum’s, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was wrote “solely for the pleasure of children” or if the book’s parallels to the 1890’s Populism movement, prove it otherwise, an allegory of political satire.

A quarter century after its film debut, Henry M. Littlefield linked the characters and plot of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to the political landscape of its time, the Populism Movement.

This developmental passage was a revolt by farmers in the South and Midwest against the government for ignoring their interests and difficulties. In support of his findings, Littlefield presented writings from Baum, from a small newspaper in the Midwest, where Baum expressed his stance on politics in the late 1800’s. Littlefield concluded that though not an activist, Baum was considered “sympathetic to the Populists and one who voted consistently for Democratic candidates.”

These claims have since been dismantled.

Records have shown that some of Baum’s editorials expressed support for Republican candidates. In fact, during the 1896 campaign, Baum published a poem backing the Republican Party’s candidate, McKinley and his economic policies: “Our merchants won’t be trembling/ At the silverites’ dissembling/ When McKinley gets the chair!”

Baum consistently claimed to have no hidden agenda behind his masterpiece and his descendants go as far as to call the political thesis behind Baum’s legendary tale, “Insane.”

All in all, I believe Littlefield conceded it best in 1992, when he stated, “Whatever Baum’s intentions were in writing Oz, he kept them to himself.” (Winter 2005 Issue of the Independent Review)

Richard Klaver