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January 21, 2009

Victor Fleming's _The Wizard of Oz_ (1939) and the Critical Lens: Students Respond


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The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

ENG 435 Students,

As directed in class . . .

. . . enter your choice from the monomyth chart (what you signed up for) and apply it to Fleming's Oz. The blog entry for the monomyth is available HERE and the handouts I asked you to read are available at the bottom of the page HERE. I'm looking for a paragraph (at least) or so of very specific info. Use the online handouts to find out more about your "part" of the monomyth. Some of you may have more than one, e.g. ordinary day and refusal of the call. There will be crossover in some of your choices, e.g. refusal of the call and departure.

As with any paper you post--even if it is only a paragraph or two--always create a title, a primary source citation (think of it as a review) and use the MLA format where possible (ID info on upper left). Remember to keep your identity somewhat anonymous. First name, last initial. Remember to keep a hardcopy of anything you post on the blog or turnitin.com for your records and portfolio (always bring to class too in case we decide to use it as part of an in-class activity). Don't forget that formatting is different for online publications, e.g. paragraphs aren't normally indented and text is single-spaced. So, go back and space between your paragraphs to indicate the break. If you get your comments in to me in a timely fashion, I can leave feedback. The closer your submission is to classtime, the less likely I will have time to provided any.

Later:

Two things will be due here: [1] Application Papers and [2] Conference Papers

[1] If you wrote an application paper on this work, you will enter it in the comment box below.

Keep in mind that you will write 10 short, but concise, application papers this semester: one for each module / theory. However, ALL of your application papers will NOT be on the same work of literature. After your initial choice, you are expected to rotate between the four primary works (Fitzgerald, Joyce, Shepard, and Fleming) before coming back to this one. Enter your application papers for the other authors in their own dedicated entries on the English-Blog (click on the "Critical Theory" or "Literature" links in the Scattegories menu to the left if you are lost!).

In addition to being due n the comment box below by the deadline (see itinerary), your application paper is ALSO due in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com. Bring a hardcopy of your paper to class according to the deadline listed on our itinerary (see syllabus) and, as usual, be prepared to discuss your article with the rest of the class.

The purpose of the application papers are to give you exercise and preparation for the longer paper due in the final weeks of the course (see itinerary) for our mock-student-conference panels.

[2] If you wrote a conference paper on this author, enter it in the comment box below. It is also due on turnitin.com by the deadline AND as a hardcopy for your portfolio and for the actual conference itself (you will read it aloud).


I look forward to seeing your work,

Dr. Hobbs

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For more English-Blog entries on the topic of Critical Theory, please click HERE.

To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Literature, please click HERE.

To read additional English-Blog entries on the subject of Film, please click HERE.

Posted by lhobbs at January 21, 2009 10:25 AM

Readers' Comments:

Ava L.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
22 January 2009

(1) Stages of the Hero's Journey: Innocent World of Childhood / Separation / Call to Adventure

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth chart can be applied to Victor Fleming’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy Gale can be considered the stereotypical hero of the story. Dorothy’s call to adventure initially takes place when she questions the idea of whether or not there exists a place with no troubles. She feels compelled to run away from the family farm in Kansas (Ordinary World)in an attempt to escape her own troubles. She meets up with Professor Marvel, who presents himself as a fortune teller. Professor Marvel is a fake. This is obvious to the audience but not to Dorothy, who is a naïve young girl. Professor Marvel uses Dorothy’s possessions (a picture of Aunt Em) in order to convince Dorothy that her Aunt Em is ill and Dorothy must return home. Dorothy attempts to return home to Aunt Em. Dorothy’s attempt to return home can be categorized in Campbell’s monomyth chart as her refusal of the call. When Dorothy returns home to the farm in Kansas she is caught in a tornado. Dorothy runs to her room with Toto and is knocked unconscious by a broken window pane. When Dorothy regains consciousness, she realizes that the house has been lifted off the ground and is spinning out of control in the sky. The tornado in Dorothy’s case can be categorized as the supernatural aid. The house lands, Dorothy emerges and realizes that she is no longer in Kansas. Instead, Dorothy is in Oz. The landing of the house in Oz represents the crossing of the threshold when it is applied according to Campbell’s chart. Dorothy is no longer in her ordinary world (Kansas) but now she is in a special world (Oz).

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Notes from Professor:

One of the interesting twists in this version of the formula is that before Dorothy leaves her home (her ordinary world), her home comes with her (somehow symbolic of the end of the story--home was always here, with you). In other words, when she steps out of her house, her house was in Oz. Just a thought for further discussion! Like many separations, hers was painful. The storm ripped her away from everything she knew.

Great observations Ava!

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Ava L. at January 21, 2009 08:51 PM

Cecilia B.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
22 January 2009

(7) Stages of the Hero's Journey: Atonement to Recognition by Father / Apotheosis

Applicable to Dorothy's heroic journey are two stages of Campbell's initiation phase: atonement with the father and apotheosis.

In Fleming's film adaptation, the wizard is representative of the ultimate father since he bears all power and authority within the Emerald city. As a result, Dorothy must comply with the father's will an act of atonement. This is observable in the film when Dorothy is instructed to retrieve the Wicked witch's broom before earning from the father (wizard) a way back home. Following the retrieval of the broom, Dorothy and the wizard are at odds since he refuses to help her or her party. The culmination of this stage typically comes with the hero defeating the father's authority/power or persuading the father to support the hero's goals. In a similar vein, the wizard is revealed as the “man behind the curtain,” and his supposed might and power becomes comedic and is diminished. Consequently, his authority passes over to Dorothy and her true heroism. Following this, Dorothy achieves approval (atones with) the wizard as he promises to assist her and her companions.

Furthermore, the apotheosis stage marks Dorothy’s transformation. She is finally perceived as a hero by both the Wicked witch’s guardsmen and the citizens of Emerald city. Simultaneously, Dorothy had also prepared for self-sacrifice. During her near-death experience at the Wicked witch’s castle, Dorothy realizes the importance of her friends and the reality that their needs are just as great as hers (scarecrow’s brain, tin man’s heart, and cowardly lion’s courage). Thus, when meeting the wizard the second time, Dorothy resists his further demands (despite the great fear that he could destroy her- i.e. sacrificial) in order to protect her newfound belief in friendship.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Notes from Professor:

Yes, Dorothy is definitely transformed from helpless "victim" (she depends on her friends quite a bit) to the actual "savior" of the world--at least, the world of Oz. On a deeper level, she has transformed in another way, hasn't she? That is, she has "come-of-age." At the beginning of the story, she is a mere child, running away from mean old ladies, caring after her dog (and referring to it) as if it were a child or a dolly. Through the course of her adventure (even if it was in her head), she learned some self-determinism. She ventured out alone on the road on the advice of the munchkins. She nurtured the tin woodsman, a demonstration of motherly behavior. Playing the role of an adult, she scolded and chastised the cowardly lion for his bullying behavior. Her conclusion? Stop playing childish games and go home--you were there all along (a structured societal propagandist message?). She grew up--a definite transformation from child to adult and from girl to woman.

Right on, Cecilia!

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Cecilia B. at January 22, 2009 06:39 PM

L. Hardy
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
22 January 2009

(5) Stages of the Hero's Journey: Road of Trials / Tests & Ordeals / Dragon-Battle


In order for one’s heroic journey to be a success, one must go through a series of trials to prove one’s integrity and commitment to the final goal, whatever that may be. For Dorothy from Fleming’s adaptation of the 1939 classic Wizard of Oz, the journey is no different. To make the journey home from Oz, Dorothy must go through a series of trials that will ultimately lead her to her destiny. At first, Dorothy truly questions the wisdom of Glenda telling her just to “follow the yellow brick road” and this hesitation makes her humanity that much more evident. After meeting both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch appears and throws a ball of fire directly at the Scarecrow. As Dorothy screams and helps to beat out the flames, she does not admit defeat or claim that the task was too hard and she is ready to give up. Even the disappointment that Dorothy faces, after being told to “Go away!” by the Wizard’s attendant, can be seen as a trial. This disappointment allows Dorothy to share with the audience about the truth growth and realizations she has had since being in this magical land. Finally, the true trial reveals itself when the Wizard demands that, for his help, the trio retrieve the Wicked Witch’s broomstick as proof of their bravery and determination. Through this challenging escapade, Dorothy is able to transition from the lost girl she began the journey as into the confident and self-aware young woman she was meant to become.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Notes from Professor:

It would seem that the Witch is "the Dragon" (or Satan) in this story--the final "boss" of the video game that must be defeated. Although there were many other smaller battles she had: fighting the flying monkeys (first encounter with the witch), killing the Wicked Witch of the East (the first one who was beneath her house), the talking trees, and, to a lesser extent, the cowardly lion. Her road of trials included some of these as well.

Fine job, Liz

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: L Hardy at January 22, 2009 10:43 PM

Travis R.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
22 January 2009

(6) Stages of the Hero's Journey: Crucifixion-Symbolic Death / Dismemberment / Meeting with the Goddess

At first glance, applying two themes from Campbell’s chart (the symbolic death and meeting with the goddess) to events that transpire in Fleming’s film version of The Wizard of Oz seems pretty straight forward. When viewed empirically, the death of the Wicked Witch corresponds quite well with a symbolic death, for her demise marks the climax of the plot, and the return to Oz—in order to hold palaver with the wizard—fulfills the expectations of meeting with the god(dess). However, if scrutinized with a bit more intensity, a deeper subtext emerges. When Dorothy and the gang return to Oz in order to receive their kudos, they discover that the wizard was not “great and powerful” after all but actually quite ordinary. This discovery is not only a death of the fantastical image of a man but also the death of expectations. If, then, the meeting with Oz is ascribed to the symbolic death, the meeting with the goddess has yet to be fulfilled. Perhaps the party’s realization that they already possessed within them what they were searching for (a brain, a heart, courage, and a way home) could fulfill this requirement. If the purpose of meeting with the goddess is to receive some applicable “reward” for a good deed done, then it is not without reason to suggest that Dorothy et al. accomplished this by getting in touch with the “goddesses” within themselves. Then again, this might all be too convoluted and forced, in which case we could rather easily attribute the meeting with the goddess to the reappearance of Glinda, the good witch of the North.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Notes from Professor:

Could we also consider meeting "The Wizard" as a meeting with the goddess? Also, did Dorothy die symbolically? She did collapse in the poppy field. Could her entrapment by the Witch be her crucifixion? As far as dismemberment, I can't help but think of the scarecrow being ripped to shreds. But, that would be HIS hero's journey, not Dorothy's.

Wonderful insight, Travis

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Travis R. at January 22, 2009 11:44 PM

Wesley J.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
22 January 2009

(8) Stages of the Hero's Journey: The Return / Refusal of Return / Rescue-Magic Flight / Master of Two Worlds / Freedom to Live


The finale of the Monomyth as it plays out in The Wizard of Oz is very literal. And, it picks up as the characters are sent to retrieve the Wicked Witch’s broom. As the Wicked Witch captures Dorothy, she is rescued by the Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow. However, in spite of this actual rescue scene, there is another liberation that is the less obvious. The heroes return to the Wizard and show him that the Wicked Witch is dead. Through this, Dorothy’s gang has saved all of Oz from the tyranny and torture of the Wicked Witch. But, not all of Monomythical aspects are as blatant. For example, there is not a direct refusal by Dorothy to return home. However, there is a little play with this notion. As the hot air balloon leaves, which on a very literal level is illustrating the flight that Dorothy must go on to return home, the heroine begins to toy with the idea of potentially staying in Oz. This occurs when her compatriots tell her that they love her and don’t want her to go. But, from this recognition, Dorothy understands the overarching message and point of her journey.

It is directly from the love of her friends she learns that there truly is not place like home and that’s where love is to be found. This meditation is ultimately what leads her to the ultimate gift or elixir that she receives (which she takes back to Kansas to “heal the land”). And that gift is love. Dorothy’s magical journey home takes the form of her tapping her shoes. After this is done, she is back in Kansas. In the safety of her bed and surrounded by family, Dorothy is able to share her message of adoration. As she is able to return home a hero (she defeats the Witch and gains the elixir) Dorothy finally is the master of both worlds. In Oz, her heroine status is very clear. But, in Kansas, Dorothy is able to share her feelings toward her family unit and can find happiness within the home that she initially sought to escape.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Notes from Professor:

Yes, I actually hadn't put that together about the balloon escaping. That's why I love this exercise! Collectively we all notice different things. Other elixirs she brought back to her ordinary world? Her reluctance to "stray" again will bring order and stability to home. Her parents are dead and she is raised by an Uncle and Aunt. Are they depending on her to carry on the family line of her biological parents? Do they need her to "breed" more children to farm the land? Without her, the Kansas world was sick with despair. Her return (even though she was only unconscious) "healed" the worry of her friends and family and restored the missing order. Her decision to participate in that society as an adult (she was previously a child) is a help to the common good (in the socialist sense) rather than a hindrance to it when the selfish will not participate.

Clever analysis, Wesley

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Wesley J. at January 22, 2009 11:49 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Lee Hobbs
ENG 340
23 January 2009

(2) Stages of the Hero's Journey: Refusal of the Call / Crossing the 1st Threshold

Joseph Campbell, a respectable mythology specialist, developed a monomyth chart that was to be used as a tool for understanding and deconstructing myths. According to Campbell, every story features a hero who will embark on a journey. In the beginning of this journey, however, the hero undergoes a “refusal of call”. This refusal stage denotes that fear and emotions overwhelms and takes control of the hero, who second-guesses his call to adventure. Applicable to every story, the monomyth chart can be used to analyze the movie, The Wizard of Oz, which features Dorothy, the hero of the story who is a young girl from Kansas. The movie begins with Dorothy singing about traveling to another land “over the rainbow”, to escape life’s unfair circumstances. After almost losing her beloved dog, Toto, Dorothy decides to leave her home and embark on a journey. The first person she meets is Professor Marvel, who guesses Dorothy’s intention of running away. After talking to the magician, Dorothy begs the Professor to take her with him to Europe. However, after Professor Marvel tells Dorothy that he sees in his crystal ball her Auntie Em in a distressed state from her disappearance, she immediately wants to return home. Thus, at this point Dorothy lets her emotions guide her decisions. Instead of following her desire to go to another world, Dorothy returns home because of her love and respect for her Aunt and Uncle. Letting her love for them dominate her actions, Dorothy refuses the call to adventure because she realizes that she is causing her Aunt and Uncle stress and worry.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Jessica P. at January 23, 2009 10:56 AM

According to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth chart every hero follows a specific journey. This chart can be applied to Victor Fleming’s 1939 film adaption of “The Wizard of Oz.” Hero, Dorothy Gale, takes the same journey that Campbell’s monomyth chart describes. After Dorothy’s call to adventure she is initiated into the other world, also known as Oz. Her initiation takes place while she is in a dreamlike sleep after being hit in the head from objects during a tornado. While unconscious Dorothy dreams that her bedroom is being swept up into a tornado. She sees cows, houses, and family members fly by outside her window until the house lands in Oz. The house lands on and kills the Wicked Witch of the East which frees the munchkins. The twister acts as Dorothy’s initiation into Oz. She is then sent off onto the yellow brick road to reach the Emerald City. The yellow brick road represents Dorothy’s road of trials because of all of the obstacles she faces through out her journey.

Posted by: Kristin B. at January 24, 2009 11:28 PM

Sarah, where is your response to this exercise?

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at January 25, 2009 09:51 AM

I would first like to apologize for the late submission. It is uncharacteristic of me and it will not happen again. I promise to be a better classmate.

Sarah T.
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
25 January 2009

(3) Stage of the Hero’s Journey: Crossing the Threshold / Belly of the Whale

In the Flemming’s Wizard of Oz, Dorothy crosses the threshold when she hurled by the cyclone from Kansas to Oz. This is a literal representation of this transition from the ordinary world into the special world. The more subtle threshold is when Dorothy begins to see life as something more than just getting what she wants. She is taken to Oz to learn about what makes life important which are friends, family, and caring for others which is what she does when she invites the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion on her journey to Oz.

Dorothy enters the “Belly of the Whale” when she is captured by the Wicked Witch and taken back to her castle. In this scene the witch threatens to drown Toto and Dorothy offers to trade the precious slippers for Toto’s life. This scene fits the stage because the hero enters into a dangerous place (the headquarters of her enemy/nemesis) and is forced to face her fears. In Dorothy’s case she is faced with losing Toto which is mirrored at the beginning of the movie when the lady on the bike comes to take Toto away.

The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

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Note from Professor:

Thank you Sarah!

~Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Sarah T. at January 26, 2009 09:23 AM

Wesley Johnson
Hobbs
Eng 435
January 27, 2009

Oz and Plato’s “Allegory”

In The Wizard of Oz , Dorothy’s “apocalypse” is demonstrative of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in a few ways. But, to fully understand these connections, it is first necessary to understand better what is meant by the “apocalypse.” For the purposes of the film, the scene is the revelation or disclosure towards the end. In this scene, Dorothy and her troop come to understand that the gifts they sought (intelligence, courage, home, and a heart) were illusions. And, that each individual already had what he or she desired. While no surprise to an overly scrupulous viewer (how else would any of the characters have been able to make a journey assuming Oz operates on the human physiological principles), Dorothy and company are shocked.

The connecting scene in Plato’s “Allegory” is actually a string of events that have been tied for the film. In Plato’s version, the discovery of truth is marked by the escape inside the cave. However, this inner escape doesn’t lead to full understanding, which takes place when one is forced from the cave. For Dorothy, revelation occurs when she is forced into the sunlight as Plato’s characters are. She does not find understanding on her own. Rather, the Wizard informs her of the gift she maintains and she cannot return to her state of “unknowing” once she has been exposed. This is a difficult spot. She is bewildered that she didn’t realize her innate gift all along. Likewise, for the “Allegory,” enlightenment is difficult because of the physical and mental strain it can evoke.

Without going too far, I would also like to add something in the way of philosophical musings on the nature of truth that presents itself in this discussion. In the “Allegory,” enlightenment and Truth is very much a construct created by the I (assuming that I, and you, are the characters trapped in the cave). I get to decide that the figures being held up are puppets and just representations of something. And, I get to decide that the “reality” outside the cave is in fact reality. Perhaps, if I wanted to suffer an existential meltdown, I could interpret “reality” as further representation and continue that path until I die. And, in Oz, even though the revelation comes from the mouth of the Wizard, the truth that what I (here I am Dorothy) am seeking is inside of me, illuminates the same notion that I have created my truth. What I define as truth (or whatever I seek) is how the thing will be designed.

Posted by: Wesley J. at January 27, 2009 10:19 PM

Travis R
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
January 28, 2009

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Dorothy’s Revelation: The Great Oz

Applying Plato’s allegory of the cave—and determining whether or not Dorothy was inside or outside of Plato’s cave—to Dorothy’s epiphany scene in The Wizard of Oz initially seemed simple enough. The scene in question is when Dorothy comes to the realization (through the aid of Toto) that the great and powerful Oz was, in fact, not so great and powerful. The initial reading doesn’t appear to leave much room for deep analysis. It seems rather obvious that Dorothy has found her way out of Plato’s cave and into the world of truth because she is “enlightened” and understands Oz’s true nature. But this reading almost seems too easy. Can we really claim that Dorothy is enlightened? She didn’t search for the truth about Oz, she stumbled upon it with the help of Toto, who actually made the discovery. In fact, perhaps it is Toto who best personifies (or, even, animalifies) the enlightened one. Dorothy and the other members of her party were satisfied with the façade of Oz and didn’t see the need to look any further, and that looking further seems to be a key component of both enlightenment and Plato’s cave. But then again, Toto being the only enlightened member of the group does seem to be a bit of a stretch. Perhaps it is best if we describe Toto as merely the catalyst for Dorothy’s ascent to enlightenment. For, after all, in the allegory of the cave there had to be some way for that first person to be released in order to “save” the others. And, interestingly enough, this is exactly what Dorothy does.

The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Travis R at January 28, 2009 12:47 AM

Ava L.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
February 1, 2009
Paradoxical Elements in the Wizard of Oz
According to Cleanth Brooks, author of “The Language of Paradox”, “The presences of paradoxical elements are “perpetual and cannot be kept out of the work being viewed, therefore the author must either direct or control the paradox” (Brooks 31). Victor Fleming’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” uses several paradoxical elements. Fleming’s use of paradox is an essential part of the story itself. The film gets it’s “power from the paradoxical situations that arise” (Brooks 29). By using paradoxical elements, Fleming is able to reveal several truths that otherwise might not exist within the story.
One example of the way in which Fleming uses paradox in “Oz” is through the characters. For example, in the opening act Dorothy contemplates whether a place exists that is free from troubles. Dorothy’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow” song is a paradox. The audience is unaware of the importance of Dorothy’s song until the very end of the film. Dorothy’s departure to the wonderful Land of Oz, (unconscious awareness) is reflective of a nonexistent place that is free from troubles. Upon returning home (gaining consciousness), Dorothy realizes that her home in Kansas is her trouble-free, somewhere over the rainbow.
The cowardly Lion is another example of the way in which Fleming uses paradox. The word cowardly in the Lion’s case is a paradox. Lions are not generally cowardly. They are generally categorized as the kings of the jungles. This is not the case for the lion in Oz. The Lion sets out with multiple other characters, including Dorothy, in hopes that the powerful wizard will give him courage. The wizard reveals to the lion that he has had courage all along. The one thing that the Lion is missing is a badge of courage. Upon being presented with the badge the Lion acquires instantaneous courage. The dual truth behind the presentation of the badge to the lion is that the Lion has possessed the courage all along.
These types of paradoxes are also used for the brainless Scarecrow and the heartless Tin Man. The powerful wizard presents them both with materialistic possessions. The paradox in the Scarecrow and the Tin Man’s case is that they, too, had always been in possession of intelligence and emotion. The need for these characters to physically possess proof of their courage, intelligence, and ability to show emotion can all be perceived as paradoxes. The possession of materialistic proof is more psychological.
Fleming’s use of color can also be considered paradoxical. Dorothy’s home in Kansas is presented in black and white; whereas, the wonderful Land of Oz is presented in vivid colors. This contrast in color emphasizes Dorothy’s belief that Kansas cannot be without troubles but that the Land of Oz can. The distinction between the lands, one in color and the other in black and white, inadvertently depicts one (Kansas) and the other (Oz) as a dull place or a happy place. Ironically though, Dorothy realizes in the end that her home (Kansas) is the trouble-free place she has been searching for all along.
Finally, Fleming’s depiction of the witches can be considered a paradox. The wicked witches of the East and West are dark characters with green skin and unattractive qualities. The good witches, the witches of North and South, are depicted with the physical characteristics that parallel that of angels. Fleming uses these physical characteristics to contrast the differences between good and evil. The physical characteristics that the so called good witches possess contradict the typical physical characteristics that a witch would possess. The physical differences that the good witches possess are not the stereotypical qualities that one would assume a witch would possess.
Fleming’s use of paradox in “The Wizard of Oz” is a necessary tool in shaping the story. Most of the characters are influenced by the use of paradoxical elements. In the end, Fleming’s characters require some form of contradictory fact to bring them to the truth.

Works Cited:
Brooks, Cleanth. “The Language of Paradox.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. 28-39.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billy Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charlie Grapewin, Pat Walshe, Clara Blandick, and Terry. MGM, 1939.


Posted by: Ava L. at February 3, 2009 08:10 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
4 February 2009
Formalism Application: The Wizard of Oz
“The Formal Method”
A key concept of Boris Eichenbaum’s article, “The Formal Method”, is the distinction between practical language and poetic language. Practical language is more commonly known as everyday language. This is used for conversations that occur every day and do not provide deeper meanings or hidden perceptions. Poetic language, or literary language, is when language and words posses value and provide readers/listeners with the key to a new perception or interpretation. This key concept is one that has the ability to be applied to almost any form of art, including Fleming’s movie The Wizard of Oz.
There are three specific instances within the film that illustrate the use of poetic language as a tool to convey new meanings and perceptions. The first example is the phrase “follow the yellow brick road”. In practical language this phrase does not mean much and only allows for a literal interpretation of “walk the yellow colored path and do not stray”. However, when applied to an art form and used in a literary manner it not only has the literal interpretation, which is important for Dorothy, but also a symbolic interpretation. This phrase comes alive within the movie because it is used repetitiously, another literary technique, which draws the viewer’s attention to it. By doing this, the audience learns that the phrase has independent value and purpose. “Follow the yellow brick road” is a phrase that guides Dorothy through her life’s obstacles because the road literally leads her to face them.
The second phrase in the movie is “there’s no place like home”. It is difficult to determine how common this phrase was before the film debuted but afterwards it certainly became a household phrase that took on multiple meanings for the American people. Similar to the previous phrase mentioned, it has a simple literal meaning when used practically. Yet, for some reason, the writers chose to have the phrase repeated three times in order to get Dorothy home. The exact reason is unknown but the repeating of it three times makes the audience interpret the phrase in a new manner. It becomes an audible representation of a literary procedure, and procedure is another concept important to Eichenbaum.
Another poetic moment with language that needs to be explored is the singing. Songs are a creative way to express one’s feelings or thoughts and often express these with a symbolic message. There are a multitude of songs in the film and they are usually simple in content and meaning. Yet, songs are not a normal tool of every day communication and this fact alone demonstrates the poetic and literary quality they possess. Many songs on the radio today are written to have a deeper meaning and often need to be perceived in more than a literal manner. When Fleming puts songs in his movie it unlocks the door to multiple perceptions which is the key to poetic language.

Eichenbaum, Boris. "The Formal Method." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rickin and
Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 7-14.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Sarah T. at February 3, 2009 10:40 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
2/4/08

Application Paper: Art as Technique to Wizard of Oz

According to Viktor Shklovsky in his essay Art as Technique, people perceive and view the world through habit. Instead of broadening their intellectual sphere, people confine themselves to observing the world through their senses in an ordinary, automatic way. Objects are thus allocated one detail or are remembered through a formula versus a complete understanding of the whole. When viewing the Wizard of Oz, people can either view the film in an automatic way or use defamiliarization to perceive the film in an artistic way.

The Wizard of Oz is an interesting film featuring Dorothy Gale who goes on a journey with her three friends to visit the Great Oz in order to be granted their wishes. Perceiving the film through different lenses causes one to question the outcomes of Dorothy’s decisions. Beginning with the song she sung during the beginning scene, Over the Rainbow, one’s automatic reaction might be that this melody is a hopeful song where Dorothy voices her heartfelt wishes and dreams in a pleasant manner. However, viewers must understand where Dorothy’s wishes took her. This song was the beginning point of her belief that the grass is greener on the other side. Thus, Dorothy had to go on a long journey to simply discover that she should be content with her life and living situation at home.

Viewers might also question how Dorothy went on her journey and the truth of its reality. The ordinary interpretation is to accept the obvious, in which Dorothy was hit on the head by an object from the tornado, causing her to travel to Oz through her unconsciousness. When looking at the movie as a whole, however, viewers can question whether Dorothy was really experiencing this in another land, or hallucinating or dreaming. To begin this journey, viewers might look to Professor Marvel as a source for her transportation to Oz. Either the Professor cast a spell on Dorothy to cause this transition of worlds, or he gave her drugs that caused her to hallucinate this journey. On the other hand, Professor Marvel may have simply been an innocent bystander; instead, Dorothy may have simply dreamed the entire trip, or was skitsophrenic, mentally perceiving these characters.

Also in Art as Technique, Viktor claims that through poetry people reach outside of their ordinary perceptions. Viewers of the Wizard of Oz can see that as a musical, there was specific use of artistic language. In Over the Rainbow, If I only had a brain, and Follow the Yellow Brick Road, viewers are able to view the film in an artistic way, forcing them to step away from the ordinary, habitual view of the movie. Thus, watching the Wizard of Oz through different lenses, allows the viewer to look at the movie as a whole, interpreting all aspects of its entity.

_The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at February 4, 2009 09:19 AM

Travis Rathbone
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
10 February 2009

The Perception of Oz: Interpreting Technicolor

As defined in his essay “Transcendental Aesthetic,” Immanuel Kant champions perception and the crucial role it plays in how one interprets the world. He also states that we only know our interpretation (or appearance) of an object, and if our perception of something does not exists, the object would also cease to be: “As appearances, they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us” (Kant 131). Using Kant’s views of perception and applying it to Dorothy’s introduction to the colorful “land over the rainbow” can wield some interesting insights concerning the “genuine” nature of Oz and how it is perceived.

Upon entering the land of Oz and discovering it is a bewildering place, Dorothy scrutinizes the scene with a perplexed look. Her first few words reflect her disposition: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” (Fleming). Going from a drab world of black and white (grayscale) to a world composed of color would, definitely, be cause for shock, and Dorothy’s over-stimulated senses would demand nothing less than a boisterous exclamation: “We must be over the rainbow!” (Fleming). Now, one might argue that Dorothy’s perception of Oz was not, in fact, one of color. It seems logical that if she perceived her home in black and white, and due to her perception of the world being in black and white, her interpretation of Oz would be in black and white also. However, the intrigue on Dorothy’s face tends to say a bit more is going on than meets the eye. For instance, would Dorothy logically be so surprised by the munchkin town if it were not a town filled with color? Also, her comment about being over the rainbow seems logical if we apply that statement to this new world being in color. Oz represents the colors of the rainbow, so is thus the magical place over the rainbow. However, an interesting point can be raised here. If Dorothy was used to living in a bland world of grays, blacks, and whites, how could she see the color that was presented to her in Oz? In other words, if her interpretation of the world was one of a limited color scheme, then how could she perceive color in this new world? One could answer this query by recapping her song “Over the Rainbow.” If she knew what a rainbow was then surly she knew its different colors, and her perception of those colors could then manifest themselves in Oz’s color scheme. It seems paramount, though, that the addition of color, with its vast contrast to Dorothy’s colorless home world, causes the authenticity of Oz to be suspect. However, Kant would disagree (to an extent). Because Dorothy is capable of perceiving Oz, it does (or at least the appearance of it does) exist, and thus makes it genuine in at least as far as Dorothy is concerned. Perhaps, even, only as far as Dorothy is concerned.

Another aspect of interpretation that should be considered is that of the audience’s. Since the viewer’s world is composed of color, the land of Oz (due to its color) would appear more realistic in its mirroring of the “real” world than the depiction of Dorothy’s home. The addition of color also adds a deep contrast to that of the normal world, thus more acutely differentiating between Oz and Dorothy’s home world. However, even with the more realistic addition of color, the land over the rainbow still seems more falsified due to its overtly brilliant color schemes. The terrain is so vibrant its fake looking. Because of this, it is almost easier to believe that the plain, original world is more genuine than Oz. In addition, up to this point movie going audiences had been subjected to predominately (if not exclusively) black and white films, and, as with movie audiences today, in order for a film to be fully appreciated one must sometimes suspend belief. If up to this point the audience’s world had only been depicted in black and white on the silver screen, and that is what they interpreted as genuine, than the addition of color, if anything, would merely be novel, perhaps even further falsifying Oz’s authenticity. Then again, this is all merely interpretation based on perception, but according to Kant, interpretation is all we really know.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. "Transcendental Aesthetic." Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 131 - 136.

The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Travis R at February 11, 2009 10:36 AM

Cecilia B
Dr. Lee Hobbs
ENG 435
18th February 2009
Structuralist Reading of Viktor Flemings’ The Wizard of Oz
Through the course of his article “The Archaeology of Knowledge,” Michel Foucault describes discourses as “systems characterized by principles” of tradition (90); but specifically Foucault mentions how an individual work starts off as a “variable and relative” (92) unity which fits into one rightful discourse based on the work’s adherence to principle and not its comparison to other categorized works. This concept is readily available in Viktor Fleming’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz since the film can subscribe to several different genres (another form of discourse) if its elements are weighed against other films in varying genres. However, as Foucault would allege, Oz can only be “systematically formed” (Foucault 96) based on the rules and conventions regulated by one particular discourse rather than several.
Without Foucault’s structuralist theory in operation, one could easily claim the film Oz belongs to strictly the ‘terror’ or ‘science-fiction’ genres because it shares the same elements as other works in those discourses. For example, in consideration of the ‘terror’ discourse, Oz exhibits a wicked witch with grotesque features who uses scary tactics, threatens other characters with death, and lives in a brooding castle. These elements share similar features with other works in the terror genre but this does not classify Oz as such. Rather, one should not recognize particular themes or language in a work as correlating with the reality a discourse is trying to present especially with other works since they do not encompass the whole of the discourse. Instead, Oz should be evaluated in conjunction with a discourse’s complete set of principles to see which system best unites. A further explanation would be the film’s warped animals (flying monkeys), outer world dimension, and mad scientist (wizard) as elements belonging to the science-fiction discourse if pairing it alongside other sci-fi films illustrating these events. Yet again, Oz does not qualify to the overall system of sci-fi because the film would not support its other conventions including but not limited to settings in the future or scientifically developed technology.
Finally, The Wizard of Oz accurately exhibits Foucault’s ideas about transpersonal discourses. For instance, Oz is thoroughly formed into musical-fantasy’s discourse because it provides musical performances, unusual improbable circumstances and does not have any exceptions which would deny any of musical-fantasy’s principles. Therefore, as Foucault would endeavor to reveal, The Wizard of Oz could be assimilated into other genres if analyzed against other films, but this approach is inaccurate to the goal of structuralist theory, and Oz should only be observed with how the structure of a discourse can allow it to function as it was made.

Works Cited
Fleming, Viktor. The Wizard of Oz.
Foucault, Michel. “The Archaeology of Knowledge.” Literary Theory: An
Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell
Pub., 1998. 90-96.

Posted by: Cecilia at February 14, 2009 11:34 PM

Kristin Brittain

Dr. Hobbs

ENG 435

2/16/09

Application paper:Signifiers of good versus evil within The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz directed by Victor Fleming is responsible for many of today’s cultural myths created by the accepted social value system. The film is a musical created by a serious of signs that enabled the audience to give signification to the film. In the essay, “Mythologies” Roland Barthes analyzes the systems of signs that are then taken to the next level into the creation of myths. A major theme throughout the film is the battle between good versus evil; darkness versus light. It can easily be decided that the accepted social value system praises good over evil. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North is the signifier of good and the Wicked Witch of the West is the signifier of evil. The cultural myth exposed in The Wizard of Oz is the triumph of good over evil; light prevailing over darkness.
The witches names, Glenda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West, are in themselves the first semiological systems because they are grammatical examples that illustrate what they signify; good versus evil. Not only are they linguistic systems but they are then elevated into mythical systems because of the signification given to them as signifiers. Glenda is clothed in a white flowing gown, she has fair skin, golden hair, and she emanates light. She is the quintessential sign for good and light. Glenda helps Dorothy along on her journey. She is her “guardian angel” that guides her through the journey on the yellow brick road. Furthermore, Glenda’s “weapon of choice” is a magic wand and a good heart.
Directly opposite of good is the sign for evil; the Wicked Witch of the West. She is drenched in a black dress, had green colored skin (the color representative of greed), dark hair, and arrived and disappeared in a cloud of dark smoke. She was the figure of darkness that represented evil. The Wicked Witch of the West was the evil obstruction that kept trying to thwart Dorothy along on her quest. Her weapon of choice was dark magic, she used fire balls that she threw at the scarecrow, flew along an old wooden broom stick, and assembled among the “freaks of nature” such as flying monkeys.
Through out the film the good and evil signifiers battle amongst each other. The meanings of the signifiers gave Glenda and the Wicked Witch of the West signification to the audience. Eventually, good wins. The Wicked Witch of the West is killed by Dorothy and Glenda is finally able to send Dorothy home with the aid of the ruby red slippers. “Myth has in fact a double function: it points out and it notifies, it makes us understand something and it imposes it on us” (Barthes 83). Thus, good prevails over evil and the signifiers elevate their signification to the level of myth. Through the film The Wizard of Oz the myth of light prevailing over dark is easily pinpointed by the audience.



Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. “Mythologies.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 81-89.

“The Wizard of Oz.” Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.


Posted by: Kristin B at February 17, 2009 11:40 PM

Liz H


Dr. Hobbs


ENG 435


February 25, 2009


Derrida and the Wizard of Oz


Derrida uses the thoughts of Saussure and Husserl liberally in his interview with Julie Kristeva where he explains “Grammatology
and Semiology”. In order to apply Derrida’s thoughts to the film production of the Wizard of Oz, it is interesting to examine
the concept of metaphysics and how it relates to the world of Oz at large.


Oz is a land ripe with symbols that stand for literal and implied meanings. If Derrida cannot imagine a world without the
use of the sign and signifier, then the world of Oz cannot either. The yellow brick road is a path that denotes one of a
journey. Its color can mean something of enlightenment, and truly, Dorothy and her friends are on a journey to wholeness.
If as Derrida alleges, “language is not innocent or neutral” then it will stand true for Oz as well (333). Language in Oz
is specific and it communicates on various levels. The songs are catchy but they share important truths about how Oz functions.
They imply community and culturally held standards, especially in relation to the wizard himself. Only the wizard has the
power to free Dorothy and her friends from their limitations. Overall, the theory of Deconstruction is useful for both Derrida
and the Wizard of Oz.

Works Cited


Derrida, Jacques. "Semiology and Grammatology." Literary Theory : An Anthology. Eds.
Julie Rivkin. By Michael Ryan. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2008. 332-39.


The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Liz H at February 25, 2009 09:34 AM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
4 March 2009
Color Symbolism in The Wizard of Oz the Novel and the Movie
The Wizard of Oz is a powerful story, both the book and the movie, which is loved by many. It is filled with mystery, suspense, fantasy, and intriguing characters. However, it is more than just a fun loving children’s story, it has undertones and symbolism that runs deep within both mediums of the story. A closer look at the two different time periods in which the stories were produced would bring about an interesting and enlightening examination of what was important during those times and how it influences the story’s motivation.
One specific instance that needs to be scrutinized is the change in color of Dorothy’s slippers from the novella to the screen. Baum originally created the slippers to be silver, yet, Fleming changes it to become red. What does this mean and why? Research on the time period and the meaning of colors could provide some insight into this discrepancy. According to Dr. Isaac H. Godlove in 1940 there is a definite mental association towards different colors. Not all colors mean the same thing to everybody but commonly yellow symbolizes good fortune while “hope and dawning” are a rosy color (The Psychology of Color). This report was published one year after the film was produced; therefore, this relationship with color would be relevant in the film. Perhaps Dorothy’s shoes represent her hope to return home and her dawning that she is always at home if she wants to be.
In the time period of the novella by Baum it is believed the silver slippers were a part of a symbiotic relationship with all the colors that were present such as the yellow road and the emerald city. According to a case study of the years 1890-1900 the gold supply began to disappear causing a dip in the economy (Case Study). The three colors of yellow, silver, and green are representative of money and consequently of the economic state of the nation. Upon further research it can be determined that the change in color of the slippers is not just for aesthetic purposes. They were a deliberate change as a comment on the culture and society in which the novella and the film were produced.

Works Cited
Baum, Frank L. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 1996. Literature.org. 3 March 2009 .
Case Study: The Wizard of Oz and the Quantity Theory of Money. 3 March 2009 .
Godlove, Isaac H. and E.R. Laughlin. “The Psychology of Color.” Ed. Terry F. Godlove. 1940. Colorants History. 3 March 2009 .
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Sarah T. at March 3, 2009 10:26 PM

Travis R
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
11 March 2009

The Merry Old Land of Oz: The Art of Othering in The Wizard of Oz

Edward Said, in his essay “Jane Austen and Empire,” states that art can be, and has been, utilized in the dehumanizing process known as othering. Depicting a subservient society as savage and composed of a lesser caliber than that of a more advanced society is quite simple for the artist to accomplish. But, what would happen if this same technique were used to devalue the real world and champion the aspects of a false reality? By analyzing the method of othering in art and applying it to Victor Fleming’s film version of The Wizard of Oz, this question may be scrutinized with some intensity.

What exactly Fleming wished to accomplish by depicting the Land of Oz as more fascinating and complex than Kansas is uncertain. Perhaps he merely wanted to depict the two worlds as different as possible, but, then again, maybe there is something deeper, an agenda unchecked. To begin with, one cannot help but be transfixed by the magnificent colors present in Oz. The contrast between the lush, brilliant color scheme of this other land and the bland, black and white (another issue of othering altogether that should cause some pondering) existence that the authentic Kansas is subject to is absolute. Who would want to live in a land of bland, mundane colors when they could be in a world where the scenic surroundings look so vivid and alive? Not to mention the association color has with authenticity. True existence (for the audience) outside of the film is one of color, and, therefore, the land depicted within the realm of the film that best matches the authentic world is the fictitious Land of Oz. Thus, it is Kansas—the real world—that is being othered and deemed less important.

Another instance of othering occurs within character demeanor and interaction. In Kansas, the film opens on troubled times for the Gale family: Mrs. Gultch is determined to have Dorothy’s dog, Toto, euthanized, Dorothy runs away from home, and a tornado wreaks havoc on the family’s farm. Altogether, the film begins with a very turbulently. Add to this the realization that most of the heinous incidents occur not only at the beginning of the story but they also in Dorothy’s home land, and it seems that terrible things happen in Kansas—again, the authentic world. These troubled times are juxtaposed against the adventurous, exciting things that happen in Oz, the false reality, and help to depict this other world as a better, more interesting place.

Another example of the vast differences between these two worlds can be seen in the magnificent display of technology and industry presented in the Land of Oz in comparison to the bleak, rural existence of those living in Kansas. The land that is seemingly automatically ascribed superior is, of course, Oz with its polished, advanced Emerald City. Kansas cannot compete with the wonder and excitement that this other land has to offer. Even the way Dorothy is greeted by the residents of Emerald City sets the tone of Oz’s superiority. Dorothy’s reception is set to an infectious tune that would make anyone feel welcome, and with singing and dancing the message is very clear: welcome to “the Merry Old Land of Oz” (Fleming). The fictitious Land of Oz is nothing if not merry, and this is the direct inverse of the dreary land of Kansas.

Edward Said states, “positive ideas…do more than validate “our” world. They also tend to devalue other worlds” (Rivkin 1113). If this statement was altered, perhaps with our being replaced by other and vice versa, we might obtain a better description of what Fleming was attempting to do with The Wizard of Oz. One can only postulate as to what his intentions were, but it seems apparent that an othering of the authentic world, Kansas, was taking place. The next logical step would be to analyze what effect, if any, this othering has had on society, either fictitious or real. But that is a horse of a different color, and best left for another time.

Works Cited
Said, Edward. "Jane Austen and Empire." Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1112 - 1125.

The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Travis R at March 11, 2009 10:15 AM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
3/10/09

Applying Postcolonial Criticism to Wizard of Oz

Post Colonial Critic Edward Said states in his article, “The Principles of Jane Austen and The Empire”, that imperialistic themes can be found throughout English literature. Using Jane Austen’s novel, Mansfield Park, Said points out the colonial support and imperialistic attitudes that are prevalent in the novel. Postcolonial criticism can be used to analyze all types of literature. Through using Said’s article and also postcolonial criticism as a whole, critics can understand works like The Wizard of Oz through postcolonial lenses.

According to Said, European and American culture supports colonization and the idea of imperial rule. In The Wizard of Oz, viewers can identify colonization through the castle. At the end of the yellow brick road lives the Oz, where Dorothy and her companions arrive at. Before they are allowed to enter the castle, they are required to be changed. Dorothy gets her hair curled, the lion gets brushed and adorned with a bow, scarecrow gets stuffed and patched, and tinman gets oiled and shined. Thus, they are forced to change their identity in order to be received by the Great Oz. This same colonization Said found in Mansfield Park, as Sir Thomas colonized Aruba and other locations.

Postcolonial critics use the term Eurocentrism to reference the use of European culture as the standard to which all other cultures are negatively contrasted. (Tyson). In The Wizard of Oz, one can question whether because the main character of the story, Dorothy, was a white American girl rather than of different ethnicity is a result of Eurocentrism. The choice of American Caucasian to fill her character may be due to the prevalent dominant attitude of white culture supremacy.

Further, colonialism exists within the individual (Tyson). Thus, do Tinman, Scarecrow, and Lion all contain colonialism as their missions are to change something about themselves? Tinman wants to obtain a heart, scarecrow wants to receive a brain, and lion wants to gain courage. Unhappy with the state they are in, all want to improve themselves in regards to what others have. Thus, viewers can recognize colonialism in the characters themselves and their surrounding circumstances in The Wizard of Oz.

Works Cited

Said, Edward. Jane Austen and Empire. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1112-1125.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today A User-Friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routkedge, 2006. 417-445.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 11, 2009 10:36 AM

Cecilia B
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
25th March 2009
Psychoanalytic Reading of Fleming’s Wizard of Oz
Viktor Fleming’s film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz exhibits many of Sigmund Freud’s concepts about the uncanny. For Freud, the uncanny stems from man’s unfamiliarity with the effects of the unconscious; and particularly with literature it is a device which can create a world that could be plausibly real or “purely fantastic” thus causing uncertainty (Freud 423). Considering Freud’s argument, Oz the film strongly induces the feeling of the uncanny since the Land of Oz and its strange residents both contribute to the strange and normal sensations in Oz’s viewers.
Beginning with the Land of Oz, it is a fantastical world in comparison to the drab conditions of Kansas; yet there is still a hint of familiarity in its glitzy metropolis, decaying castle, brooding forests and endless crop fields that mimic the viewer’s logical reality. More importantly as Freud would note, viewers also have an unconscious desire to escape the mundane and experience the exotic which is why Dorothy’s journey is so celebrated. With Oz being not only a Technicolor dreamscape but also close to the borders of a real and familiar world, the uncanny can thrive since it simultaneously fulfills the wish of the audience to see an extraordinary version of a viewer’s reality while still raising doubts about Oz’s existence. Because of these two factors, the creation of Oz never satisfies questions of uncertainty and creates an active environment or Freud’s ‘uncanny’.
Furthermore, the strange characters in the film evoke uncanniness and the tin woodsman in especial. For example, the tin woodsman directly alludes to Freud’s discussion about a character’s true existence since “the reader must be left in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is human or automaton” (Jentsch qtd. in Freud 421). This is indicative of the tin woodsman’s situation since he physically resembles a robot but imitates many of the familiar behaviors and actions of a human. To explicate, the tinman cries, experiences fear, talks, and sings and dances. As a result, he operates within the logical realm of human functions but still defies human appearance because he is made of tin.
Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” 1919. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin
and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell Pub., 1998. 418-429.

Posted by: Cecilia at March 23, 2009 12:27 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
3/23/09

Analyzing Dorothy’s Dream

The Wizard of Oz, filmed in 1939, is a movie about a young girl, Dorothy, who discovers the importance and her love of home. Living in Kansas, Dorothy resides on a farm with her aunt and uncle. In the beginning of the movie, a tornado comes through the farm, causing Dorothy to be struck unconscious with a piece of wood, beginning a long, interesting dream set in the land of Oz. Sigmund Freud composed an article, The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he explains the process for analyzing and interpreting dreams. Using his methods, viewers will be able to understand Dorothy’s dream, learning about her unconscious desires.

According to Freud, dreams are translations of the unconscious. Further, emotions and desires that are unfit for public expression are conveyed in dreams. Dorothy’s dream begins with her arrival in Oz. Eager to find her way back home; she meets scarecrow, tin man, and lion who accompany her on her journey to Oz to find help. All are traveling to meet the Wizard of Oz for different reasons—Dorothy wants transportation, Scarecrow wants a brain, Tin man wants a heart, and lion desires courage. This physical journey and characters are what Freud calls the dream content. Thus, this dream content is a symbolic meaning of what dreams are comprised of, dream thoughts. Dream thoughts are the unconscious desires that reside in Dorothy’s subconscious.

When Dorothy was in Kansas, she sings a song, Over the Rainbow. Basically, the song talks about dreams, living in another place, and looks to the future to satisfy one’s wishes of traveling and adventure. However, in Dorothy’s dream her primary mission is to find her way back home. Although in life Dorothy seeks adventure, her unconscious desires tells her that she really wishes to remain at home. The dream content is comprised of her journey, stemming from her dream thought of being content at home.

Very important elements of the dream include her three companions. It can be concluded that Dorothy’s unconscious desires are related to these characters of the dream content. Thus, their desires are her desires. Dorothy sings “Over the Rainbow” in life because she seeks adventure and really wants to live. Going back to the dream, attaining a heart, brain, and courage will enable her to fully experience life. It can be concluded that although Dorothy really wants to live life, she discovers she can do it at home, instead of “over the rainbow”.

Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. “The Interpretation of Dreams”. 1900. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 394-414.
The Wizard of Oz_ Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 25, 2009 08:43 AM

Kristin Brittain
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
3/24/2009
The Wizard of Oz and Identification
In Victor Fleming’s Wizard of Oz the assured young heroine Dorothy Gale realized there is no place like home. While Dorothy is certain on her quest for the Emerald city and positive about the wizard’s abilities she also began a mission for her companions the Scarecrow, Tin man, and Cowardly Lion. The three followers are so enamored by Dorothy’s confidence that they identify with her search and join her cause. Identification is a major theme throughout the film and according to Sigmund Freud’s article, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego “identification is known to psycho-analysis as the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person” (438). Because the three tagalongs want to be as self-assured as Dorothy the lonely trio identifies with Dorothy and claim to be missing what they know they already have. So, the four of them set off in hopes of obtaining their desires from the Wizard.
When Dorothy finds the individuals along the yellow brick road they are lonely and scared. The Scarecrow is in the midst of a corn field with crows pecking at him, the Tin Man is rusted in the woods with no one to oil him, and the Lion is cowering alone in the forest instead of being the King of the jungle. Because they are alone it is easy for them to form an attachment to the first person who will pay attention to them. Identifying with a subject is the earliest form of any kind of emotional tie. Dorothy is confident in her endeavor, and confidence is something every one of the three lack and because they are “jealous” of Dorothy’s self-assurance they all decide that they are missing something too. The Tin Man claims to be missing a heart, the Scarecrow is useless without a brain, the Lion is cowardly without any courage, and Dorothy just wants to go home. Freud termed the phrase “mental infection” to describe a “symptom” that others catch because they identify with the initial subject who’s position they desire and that is exactly what the three of them did (439).
The Scarecrow, for example, received a diploma from the Wizard to prove the intelligence that he already had. The Tin Man received a clock heart in which he can hear “tick” and the Lion received a medal for bravery. The Wizard simply gave them tangible objects to represent things they possessed all along. The three were oblivious to what they had and just focused on what they were missing. Dorothy’s confidence in her quest to obtain her desire represented their “ideal” journey and the trio couldn’t help but identify with her.


Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 438-440.
“The Wizard of Oz.” Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: kristin b at March 25, 2009 01:21 PM

Sarah Tatko
Dr. Hobbs
Eng-435
8 April 2009
Heterogeneity in The Wizard of Oz
In Lisa Lowe’s 1991 essay, “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian American Differences”, she explains how Asian Americans are often grouped into one category and thought of as homogeneous. However, there are many different sublevels to any ethnic group (Lowe 1035). This includes people from different regions of Asia or even different regions of China and Japan. There are class differences, dialect variations, generational gaps, and many others which all add the heterogeneity of the Asian American ethnicity (1039). This same concept goes for ethnic groups of a fictional nature such as the Munchkins who reside in the Land of Munchkins in the book and film The Wizard of Oz.
In the book, Baum does not go into great detail about the Munchkins living in the Land of Munchkins; in fact there are only three of them present at the time of Dorothy’s fall. Yet, he does give them a few distinguishing factors that differentiate themselves such as the men where all blue and the women where all white. This in itself breaks up the broad category of Munchkin into a sublevel. At the same time of this small example of heterogeneity are examples of false homogeneous stereotyping. Glinda calls the Munchkins slaves and uncivilized which leads the reader to believe that all Munchkins are uncivilized slaves, when in actuality they are not.
Fleming’s film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is different in its representation of the Land of Munchkins; the name even changes to Munchkinland. Fleming adds many more Munchkins to the scene when Dorothy lands and even gives them different groups to be a part of; one such group is the Lollipop Guild. This is a perfect example of heterogeneity within one ethnic group because not all Munchkins are members of the Lollipop Guild and, therefore, cannot be assumed that they all have the same background.

Works Cited
Baum, Frank L. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Project Gutenberg .
Lowe, Lisa. “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian American Differences.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1031-1050.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Sarah T. at April 8, 2009 12:32 PM

Ava Littlefield
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
16 April 2009
Dorothy: The Unexpected Heroine
Frank Baum’s publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900 was the inspiration for Victor Fleming’s production of the book in 1939. Baum’s original intention for his book was to create a “flight of fancy for the imagination” (Bussey). Fleming’s production of the book caused a great deal of speculation raising issues of feminism. Baum’s depiction of Dorothy Gale as the heroine of the story generated wide debates concerning the elevation of women and their abilities to fulfill the traditional roles of men, particularly because Dorothy is both a child and a female (Bussey). Baum’s choice to portray Dorothy as the heroine throughout his book illustrates his support of the rights of women.
Baum’s support of women right’s is not surprising considering his connection with the women in his life. Baum’s wife, Maude, possessed a number of characteristics that reflected her independent nature. Maude was a well-educated woman who assumed many of the traditionally male responsibilities of the household, including controlling the family finances and disciplining the children (Branwyn). Aside from the tremendous example set forth by his wife, Baum was greatly influenced by his mother-in-law, Maltida Joslyn Gage. Gage was co-author of The History of Woman Suffrage, along with two more notable women’s rights advocates, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Branwyn). Baum surrounded himself with women who demonstrated a strong belief in the equal rights of women. Baum’s projection of Dorothy as the rescuer throughout the story is his way of addressing the many issues that women during this time were confronted with.
Dorothy is a young girl from Kansas who unconsciously travels to the strange and mysterious Land of Oz. Dorothy’s arrival into Oz is the first glance that the reader gets of Baum’s feministic perspective. Unbeknownst to her, Dorothy’s house lands on the witch of the East. Because Dorothy is good natured, she feels guilty about the incident. The munchkins delight in Dorothy’s mishap, declaring that she has freed them from the evilness of the witch. Almost immediately, Dorothy is established as the hero, a title which is usually reserved for male characters. The rejoicing of the munchkins is abruptly interrupted by the intrusion of the Wicked Witch of the West. The West Witch holds Dorothy responsible for the death of her sister and demands that Dorothy relinquishes the ruby slippers to her or suffer the consequences. Dorothy’s refusal of the witch’s request is significant for two reasons. First, it represents her courageousness; a quality that women reportedly should not possess. She really has nothing to gain by keeping the slippers other than the fact that she has been advised by the North Witch not to. Dorothy’s refusal illustrates her heroic act of confronting frightening situations. She does not understand the importance of the slippers, but she can clearly see that her commitment to keep them in her possession is important to both the North Witch and the munchkins. Second, she puts the concerns of others before her own, which demonstrates the fact that she is unselfish, a characteristic that is often associated with the hero. For the moment, Dorothy’s actions manage to ward off the West Witch and restore peace throughout Munchkin land. Dorothy manages to rescue the munchkins from a possibly disastrous situation.
As Dorothy’s journey to return home moves forward, she finds herself the rescuer of many individuals along the way. Baum’s choice to portray the individuals that Dorothy rescues as men is an interesting twist. The reader sees a true reversal in the traditional dichotomy of the hero within the story as typically male. This decision on Baum’s part, again, reiterates his support of women as equals. Dorothy must rely on her physical strength to lift Scarecrow off of the stake that confines him. Strength is the key here, as it is not normally a characteristic that women are considered to possess. Yet, somehow Dorothy manages to free Scarecrow from his confinement. Dorothy’s reactions towards Tin Man demonstrate her capabilities of making important decisions. Rather than leave Tin Man to rust, she suggests that she and Scarecrow oil up Tin Man. Her take charge personality is not a quality that is often associated with women. Women were not expected to make decisions for themselves during this time. They were meant to be subservient and allow the men to take charge. Finally, when Dorothy, Tin Man, and Scarecrow are startled by Lion, it is Dorothy who reacts first. She slaps Lion, an action which rejects the notion that she is helpless and frightened. After rescuing Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, she convinces them to continue on her journey with her, not as her protectors, but as individuals in need of something. Their acceptance to travel with Dorothy demonstrates the notion that they see her as a leader, a title which women were rarely graced with. It is clear that she does not need them, they need her. Dorothy’s willingness to help the three of them results in her ability to “make caricatures of men into real ones” (McReynolds 87). It is because of Dorothy’s determination and courage that they all attain what they set out to achieve.
Dorothy’s determination to return home is also depicts her as the heroine within the story. Her commitment to staying focused on her task reflects her level of maturity. At the beginning of the film when Dorothy is still in Kansas, her family treats her as a child, who possesses an immature nature, however, after Dorothy is deposited into Oz, she steps up to the plate, so to speak. She recognizes that it is solely up to her to make her way home. Her behavior demonstrates her ability to take care of herself. She rejects the notion of having to rely on anyone other than herself, another characteristic that women typically do not express. Men and women assumed certain roles within society, “in which the female was certainly subordinate to the male and not upon the equality of the woman in kind” (Armstrong 575). Dorothy refuses to sit around and wait for her hero; instead, she assumes the role. She accepts the challenge that the Wizard extends to her regarding the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard informs her that he will not help her unless she brings him the witch’s broom, reiterating again, that she must rely on herself as her own rescuer. After defeating the witch and securing the broom, she returns to the Wizard, only to be disappointed with the fact that he does not possess any supernatural powers to send her home. Instead of becoming angry with him, she embraces his flaws. Dorothy sees this as another opportunity to assist others. She understands that he is “simply another man whom she can make whole by caring for wholeheartedly, and so she cares” (McReynolds 88). Dorothy’s willingness to help others serves as an interesting twist within the story. It suggests that she can fulfill the traditionally male role of the hero, while still maintaining some of feminine attributes.
Baum’s depiction of Dorothy as the hero throughout The Wonderful Wizard of Oz serves many purposes. Dorothy’s quest is inspiring to young girls. She represents a drastically new idea that women can be equally as capable as men of taking care of themselves and serving in leadership positions. She is the modernized fairy tale heroine that so many young females have learned to love. Dorothy’s position as the hero of the story allows females to join the adventurous world of males. Dorothy is the Huck Finn that so many imaginative young girls have been waiting for. Dorothy’s journey “represents the experience of woman in America in a way which not only makes that experience accessible to a male audience but also makes it attractive” (McReynolds 87). Dorothy’s adventures are as every bit as dangerous as those of the traditional male hero.
Many scholars have attempted to criticize Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz using a variety of theoretical approaches. It is difficult to believe that Baum was anything but an active advocate for the equal rights of women. Clearly, the strong and independent women that Baum choose to surround himself with suggests that not only was he a firm believer in equality of both genders, but that he also felt a certain level of responsibility to convey this message to the rest of America. Many of the female characters that Baum wrote into his novels were portrayed as heroic and capable figures. It is very likely that Dorothy Gale is an outward expression of Baum’s support of women and the fight against the injustices that women were attempting to bridge during this time.


Works Cited

Armstrong, Nancy. “Some Call it Fiction: On the Politics of Domesticity.” 1987. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell, 1998. 575.
Branwyn, Dorothy. “L. Frank Baum: Oz Historian and…Feminist.” L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992.
Bussey, Jennifer. "Critical Essay on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'." Novels for Students. Ed. Elizabeth Thomason. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Gale. ICUF. 16 Apr. 2009. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.saintleo.edu.
McReynolds, Douglas J. and Barbara J. Lips. "A Girl in the Game: The Wizard of Oz as Analog for the Female Experience in America." North Dakota Quarterly. 54.2 (Spring 1986): 87-93. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Gale. ICUF. 17 Apr. 2009 http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.saintleo.edu.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billy Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charlie Grapewin, Pat Walshe, Clara Blandick, and Terry. MGM, 1939.


Posted by: Ava at April 19, 2009 09:57 PM

Travis R
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
20 April 2009

Dorothy and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-World:
Or,
The Oppression of Rural Livelihood through the Concept of Othering

For fans and critics alike, The Wizard of Oz, set to celluloid by film director Victor Fleming, is heralded as a triumph of cinema. Débuting in 1939, not only was it one of the premier films to utilize the new technology known as Technicolor, but it also championed the kind of positive character traits—imagination, enlightenment, intrepidity in the face of adversity, and the triumph of good over evil—that any parent would wish their children to emulate. In fact, the statement could be made, and one might presume with little argument, that part of the reason this beloved children’s classic is appreciated is because of its power to instill decidedly good values in the impressionable youth. But what if this is an overly simplified glance at the surface of a film that has ideologies which span leagues beneath the surface? If Newton was right, and every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then it seems perfectly logical that what most might perceive as a means of championing humanity, a few might contrastingly see as unusual and altogether terrifying. In essence, a more sinister theme could be hidden beneath the guise of the simplistic, juvenile nature of this beloved canonical film, and a negative indoctrination of the youth, that is not at first clearly apparent nor conceivably welcome, is taking place. Louis Tyson defines the Post-Colonial term othering as the “practice of judging all who are different as less than fully human…it divides the world between “us” (the “civilized”) and “them” (the “others” or “savages”)” (Tyson 420). Through the concept of “othering,” The Wizard of Oz pits one societal ideology against another, acting as a proponent of industry, affluence, and a mechanized society, while demonizing the rustic, agrarian, and rural societies.

Where better to begin the analysis of subtle undertones in The Wizard of Oz than the beginning? As the camera fades in, the audience is afforded a glimpse of the film’s protagonist, Dorothy, and her dog, Toto, as they expediently trek toward the Gale Farm: the farm is quaint and sleepy, bland, an abode to simpletons, and, familiar to movie-going audiences at that time, awash in all the glory grayscale can achieve. The realization of this brand of living is harsh and immediately visible. For, who would wish to subside in a place like this? The alienation is complete when the audience is asked to believe this is the actual, true world. This drab depiction of rural America is regrettable. For, it is the farmland and the farmers who maintain their crops that provide the fuel to sustain the nation.

Aside from the film’s shockingly appalling vision of the rural Kansas landscape, this bucolic utopia does not seem very appealing on any front. Very little screen time is dedicated to the Gale Farm, but the time that is spent lingering around is couched in horrific and emotionally malignant events. From the very first line of the movie the audience is subjected to Dorothy’s woes, as it seems a malicious neighbor is attempting to exact unjust punishment on her dog: “She isn't coming yet, Toto. Did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? ” (Fleming). What is even worse than this viscous attack on man’s best—or in this instance, woman’s best—friend is that the law seems to be on the side of the dastardly neighbor (Mrs. Gulch) who wishes to take Dorothy’s dog away, even though Dorothy swears no wrong doing had been committed. What should one believe, then? Not only is the rural farmland an ill-suited, derelict place to live, but bucolic city officials despise dogs also? This does not seem like a utopian place to subside. To continue this line of reasoning, though, one must look at a few more events that transpire in this pastoral wasteland: Dorothy’s flight from home and the twister. By leaving her home, Dorothy realized the mistake she had made and the people she had inadvertently hurt. But even though she returned, the deed had already been done, prompting one to consider this: the only way to solve the problems of rural living is to run away. What image of country life are the film makers trying to portray here? Lastly, in one of the final scenes placed in Kansas, the audience witnesses the countryside demolished by a twister. Within minutes of being introduced to the rugged wildernesses of rustic living, the landscape is demolished by a rampant tornado. The final outlook, then, is pretty bleak. If one wishes to live a simplistic life of laborious work and additionally lead a bland existence, weather tornados, and deal with runaway children, then Kansas, and its representation of rural living, is the place to be.

The representation of farm existence might seem awful, but the audience has nothing to compare it to. For all the unsuspecting viewers know, this is what life exists of—terror. Not until events transpire that conflict with this view do suspicions concerning the inadequacies of Dorothy’s home come to light.

Through chaos, enlightenment is bred, and after the first few minutes of The Wizard of Oz, the audience begins to realize this sentiment. Upon touching down in Munchkin Land, Dorothy (an invader) and her house (the vessel used to invade) seem very out of place. She has transformed, due to the brilliance of Technicolor, into a “living” thing. Her complexion is healthy, unlike her previous pasty (rural) state and her cheeks are full of color. This is Dorothy’s first stop in a pursuit of a dream: the migration from subtle undertones to that of enlightenment—the transition from country living to that of city dwelling. Already she is bewildered, as everything in this new land is vibrant and colorful, and she is beginning to see the world, including herself, in a new light. This progression toward enlightenment is only a minor step, however. For, Munchkin Land is still located outside of the urban metropolis: Emerald City; Munchkin Land can still be considered rural country.

The Munchkins are not a sophisticated group of people. Instead, they, like those from Dorothy’s home life, lead what appear to be lives of a more simplistic nature. One should not patronize the denizens of this land, however. For it might be difficult to find a society more actualized than these Munchkins. Their basic visceral requirements must be met by some means unseen because they seem to exist well above basic wants and needs. They do, after all, have representatives of a Lollipop Guild, a luxury, it seems, beyond basic comprehension. This acquisition of basic needs by the Munchkins correlates to an infantile approach to the world. This notion may be furthered when the awe-inspiring maternal figure (the Good Witch of the North) descends into the congregated Munchkin mass by way of bubble. It is even she who wards off the evil (the Wicked Witch of the West) who wishes to harm Dorothy and the Munchkins. All of this (the motherly coddling, the infantile demeanor and even the Munchkin’s short stature) composites into another negative image of rural society: it is unsophisticated, naive, and simply not very evolved. The major difference between the core assumptions, values, and ideologies trenchant in both representations of rural society (Munchkin Land and Dorothy’s home) is the addition of color, which flourishes in Munchkin Land. Thus, one may assume that even though Munchkin Land may be considered rural countryside, it is still (if only a little) more advanced than Dorothy’s home. This might be due to its close proximity to the civilized Emerald City, for the two towns have a common connection: the yellow brick road.

The road leading to the Emerald City is heralded (by the common folk) as a road to salvation. On this yellow path—the coloring of which seems too contrived to be coincidental (yellow representing gold, wealth, and the prospect of a better life)—Dorothy will find what she is searching for: greatness and power, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. In comparison to the drab, filthy dirt roads of Kansas, it becomes difficult to deny the magnificence of this yellow brick road. The masonry involved in the construction of the road is also of import. Brick is strong, sturdy, and lasting. Brick is a foundation worth pursuing. This road gives the impression that it leads somewhere worth going, and, in fact, it does: The Emerald City—civilized, industrialized, and a wealthy metropolis. Also, where this road begins should not be overlooked, for the road to grandiose begins in rural society and departs, implying that one can only achieve greatness by leaving the agrarian landscape.

If the trek to the societal riches a metropolis has to offer is represented by wealth and power, what better harbinger than the yellow brick road? It is on this road that Dorothy travels to achieve enlightenment, which she will find not in the countryside but in the city. Throughout the film, the Emerald City is heralded as the answer to Dorothy’s troubles. Wisdom and power are located at this booming metropolis, and even the name itself, Emerald City, evokes a sense of precious rarity: the city is a unique gem located amidst rubble. Indeed, it appears the Land of Oz idolizes the Emerald City, and the personage the city holds. In fact, the people of the Emerald City appear to be held to (and hold) a higher standard. Upon first arriving, Dorothy and the gang are subjected to an intense cleansing process. This reformation’s purpose is to better prepare the group for a continuing pursuit of their dreams. The cleaning procedure perpetuates the dichotomy of rural versus urban existence, for Dorothy and the others are in an unacceptable condition when they enter the city. The grime and dirt of the country must be washed off of them before they can be taken seriously, and only after this cleansing, after they have been stripped of their past, rustic livelihoods, will they be integrated in with the urbanites. Indeed, this cleansing scene further removes the bourgeoisie (the city dwelling folk) from that of the “little guys” (the munchkins and those who reside in rural society).

At the end of the film, the audience is left to decide for itself whether Dorothy merely dreamt about Oz, or whether it actually exists. Being absolutely convinced of either view seems faulty, for not enough evidence is provided to lead to a logical conclusion. In essence, the audience is asked to trust its own imagination, and even though the existence of Oz does not seem logical, one should not dismiss its existence altogether. As a proponent of industry, this ending could be no better. For, as Dorothy lay in her bed, couched in the drab, bland grayscale of rural life, she continues to proclaim that the land of Oz, the land of wealth, beauty and commerce is real, and she saw everyone from her home life living there. As the film fades out, this is the image the audience is subjected to: the dream world is real, and if the acquisition of wonderment is what one is after, than this ethereal world is the place to achieve that end.

Of course, a few critics might suggest that if the purpose of this film is to champion industrial society and portray country life as primitive, then why is Dorothy so adamant about returning home? At the end of the film she even states she will no longer have to look past her own backyard for happiness: after all, “There’s no place like home” (Fleming). In light of this, it seems important to suggest that even though the championing of urban society can be seen as a motif in the film, city life cannot be achieved by everyone, for without farms and farmers to produce crops for food, city existence would be much more difficult. Therefore, a selective process must be maintained.

In the end, it seems imperative to look deeper than the surface of the film for its true meaning, for even though many positive social ideologies are present, accompanying them is something else entirely, something a bit more sinister. The key is to maintain a conscious awareness of the information being relayed, whether it is explicit or not, for what is said is just important as what is not, and silence can speak volumes. If a picture is worth a thousand words (and one cliché in hand is worth two in the bush), a color picture (differing from one without color) has the ability to shed new light on the essence of life. The ideologies represented in a fresh, vibrant society are more savory and palatable than those presented by a drab, unsavory culture. In the end, one might consider the implications of the othering process that subversively takes place in the film, and to what end it was practiced. Merely the what and the how has been analyzed here, leaving plenty of room for the who, where, and when of the issue. The place for that is not here, however, but perhaps those questions may be considered for future discussion. But, then again, that is merely a horse of a different color.


Works Cited
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Posted by: Travis R at April 20, 2009 03:32 PM

Kristin Brittain
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
4/13/09
Identifying with Dorothy: Group Psychology within The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz directed by Victor Fleming is based upon Frank Baum’s publication of the fairy tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. It is a film that explores the psychology of four select individuals traveling along in a group together on a specific journey. During her journey the assured young heroine, Dorothy Gale, realized there is no place like home. “Dorothy receives further supernatural aid and protection from three future kings of Oz the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. In addition, their destinies become inexplicably bound up with her own” (Hudlin 452). While Gale began her mission, she is certain on her quest for the Emerald city and positive about the wizard’s abilities she also began a mission for her travel companions: the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. The three followers are so enamored by Gale’s confidence that they immediately identify with her search and join her cause. Gale’s three new companions plus herself form a group on a mission to the Emerald City. Identification is a major theme throughout The Wizard of Oz and according to Sigmund Freud’s article, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego “identification is known to psycho-analysis as the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person” (Freud 438). Due to Gale’s self-assurance the three tagalongs want to be as confident as her; and, thus the lonely trio identifies with Gale and claim to be missing what they know they already possess. So, the four of them set off in hopes of obtaining their desires from the Wizard. The initial identification formed a tie between the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, towards Gale and this created the original psychology of the group. The new attachments within the foursome formed a group like mentality with Gale as the active leader.
After Dorothy sets off on the yellow brick road she finds the three individuals along the way and all of them are secluded, lonely, and scared. The Scarecrow is in the midst of a corn field with crows pecking at him, the Tin Man is rusted in the woods with no one to oil him, and the Lion is cowering alone in the forest instead of being the rightful King of the forest. Due to the fact that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are alone it is easy for them to form an attachment to the first person who paid attention to them. Identifying with a subject is the earliest form of any kind of emotional tie. This emotional tie bonded the four characters together creating a group with Gale acting as lead in command. Critic, Daniel T. O’Hara, clarifies Freud’s definition of a group:
“First, by ‘groups,’ with their ‘group feeling’ and ‘group psychology,’ Freud refers to small, spontaneously forming and then just as quickly dissolving bodies of people. […] We might term what Freud calls groups, then, Hegel calls ‘associations,’ as opposed to ‘institutions.’ For both groups and associations (as opposed to institutions) are improvised, fragile, and fleeting phenomena based on perceived common interests or feelings, whether rational or not, under the domination of a single, spontaneously arising leader/figure” (O’Hara 200).
Gale is confident in her endeavor, and confidence is something every one of the three lack and because the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are “jealous” of her self-assurance they all decide that they are missing something as well. “In a group, the individual regresses to a state in which the ego identifies with its ego ideal, as embodied in the figure of the group’s leader” (O’Hara 200). The Tin Man claims to be missing a heart, the Scarecrow is useless without a brain, the Lion is cowardly without any courage, and Dorothy just wants to go home. The Scarecrow’s, Tin Man’s, and Lion’s ego identify with Gale as their ideal ego. They are seeking Gale’s poise and purpose and thus they joined a mission to the Emerald City.
Freud termed the phrase “mental infection” to describe a “symptom” that others catch within a group because they identify with the initial subject whose position they desire and that is exactly what the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion did. “The mechanism is that of identification based upon the possibility or desire of putting oneself in the same situation” (Freud 440). They were lacking of something and were secluded but realized Gale had the ability to not only remove them from their seclusion but be the one to help provide them with whatever they lacked. The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion followed the leader and “caught” the need for more through Gale.
Take the Cowardly Lion as an example. During Gale’s initial meeting with the Lion he is chasing around her small dog Toto. At this point the Lion is enacting his position in the forest. However, Gale’s courage in standing up to the Lion and hitting him across the face over powers the Lion’s. Gale said, “Why you are nothing but a great big coward” and the Lion replies “Why yes I am a coward. I haven’t any courage at all.” The Lion is jealous of Gale’s daring courage and his ego identifies with Gale’s as his ideal. So, when Gale then asks the Lion to accompany them to see the wizard he immediately agrees. “Why don’t you come along with us? We are on our way to see the Wizard now to get him a heart and him a brain. I’m sure he can give you some courage.” And the Lion replied, “Well wouldn’t you feel degraded to be seen within the company of a cowardly Lion; I would.” Shortly afterward, the Lion joined the group and they all were off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. It takes nerve to begin a mission and set off on a quest. The Lion had courage all along but lacked the confidence to recognize his true abilities. Instead the Lion formed a tie with Gale, identified with her as his ideal, and became part of the group psychology.
The three tagalongs already possess their truest desires but they simply did not have the confidence to recognize it. Instead, they follow the leader and try to catch Gale’s “symptom” of confidence. The Scarecrow, for example, received a diploma from the Wizard to prove the intelligence that he already had. The Tin Man received a clock heart in which he can hear “tick” and the Lion received a medal for bravery. The Wizard simply gave them tangible objects to represent things they possessed all along. The three were oblivious to what they had and just focused on what they were missing. Dorothy’s confidence in her quest to obtain her desire represented their “ideal” journey and the trio couldn’t help but identify with her. “It [a tie] may arise with any new perception of a common quality shared with some other person who is not an object of the sexual instinct. The more important this common quality is, the more successful may this partial identification become, and it may thus represent the beginning of a new tie” (Freud 440). The new tie that is formed between Gale’s new friends and herself is based on their new attachment and identification to her.
The Wizard of Oz centers on a small group’s quest to obtain their desires. Through identification the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion form a tie with Gale, “identification is the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person” (Freud 438). The film follows the identification and psychology of the group through out the fantastical tale. Gale’s three companions are immediately drawn towards her confidence and their desire to have the same self-assurance and this creates an emotional tie within each and every one of them. The emotional tie the trio forms with Gale generated a group like mentality in which Gale acts as the leader figure.

Works Cited
Freud, Sigmund. “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 438-440.
Hudlin, Edward W. "The Mythology of Oz: An Interpretation." Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature 25.4 (1989): 443-462. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Canon Memorial Library,
Saint Leo, FL. 13 Apr. 2009 .
O'Hara, Daniel T. "'The Aesthetics of Minor Affects': The Other Modernity." Boundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture 34.1 (2007): 197-205. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Cannon Memorial Library, Saint Leo, FL. 13 Apr. 2009 mzh&AN=2007400616&site=ehost-live>.
“The Wizard of Oz.” Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.


Posted by: Kristin at April 20, 2009 04:23 PM

Travis R
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 435
20 April 2009

Dorothy’s Pursuit of Phallic Glory: Defining Penis Envy in The Wizard of Oz

In Coppelia Kahn’s essay on Feminism, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, she brings to light some interesting notions concerning penis envy. Kahn’s concept of penis envy differs extensively from Freud’s ideal, and looking at penis envy from a Feminist viewpoint can bring to light some interesting musing. This musings, it seems, becomes all the more fascinating when applied to Victor Fleming’s film version of The Wizard of Oz.

Coppelia Kahn puts a Feminist twist on penis envy, as she describes a female’s search for independence: “Because she is of the same sex as her mother and thus is more profoundly attached to her than the boy is, she desires a penis as a crucial sign of difference…She wants a penis, then, insofar as she wants to detach herself from her mother and become an autonomous person” (Rivkin 828). Dorothy’s trek through Oz can be viewed as her pursuit for detachment from her Aunt Em, and her search for greater independence. This can originally be seen when Dorothy first runs away from home. She attempts to assert her independent nature but quickly regrets it and returns to the farmhouse and an unsavory situation. Perhaps, then, Dorothy’s trip to Oz can be viewed as a second attempt at achieving her independence.

According to traditional values, Dorothy’s demeanor in Oz is not one of a sensible nature. She takes charge of her destiny and sets off on the path to the Emerald City as a lone interloper in a strange land. Along the way, she assists three denizens of Oz who are dealing with their own psychosis. The gender of these characters is important, for it is Dorothy (the youngest of the group and the only female) who takes charge and leads the others on their joint pursuit of enlightenment. Dorothy also shows her newfound independence, her masculine disposition, when she slaps the cowardly lion for his hysterical outburst. This physical display of aggression prompts the supposedly bravest of the accompanying men to proclaim: “Well, you didn't have to go and hit me, did you? Is my nose bleeding?” (Fleming). This line showcases Dorothy’s dominate male persona; a persona that is present even in the face of the other men. In the end, it is also Dorothy who takes charge and throws the bucket of water on the Witch, liberating the peoples of Oz and raising her own status to about the level of deity.

As the credits roll, however, the audience is left unawares as to whether Dorothy succeeds in fully claiming her autonomy. Back at the Gale farm, the brief family reunion the audience is privy to does not reveal such information. Though, if the strong character she presented throughout the rest of the film is any indicator, it would seem that she did, in fact, detach herself from her mother figure, and in that instance, she proudly displayed her newly acquired penis, or, at least, the autonomy and independence her newly acquired penis symbolizes.


Work Cited
Kahn, Coppelia. "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle." 1985. Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 826 - 837.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.

Posted by: Travis R at April 20, 2009 07:01 PM

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