The Wizard of Oz is a classic, a legend, and a children’s story that will never grow old. Quotes from the story such as “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my,” and “There’s no place like home,” are ones that will always pop into our heads when someone says “The Wizard of Oz. ” These are the lines that are related right away to the famous story. Dorothy’s long, adventurous trip down the Yellow Brick Road is something that everyone loves to read and watch. It is a story that touches all of us.
The 1939 MGM film interpretation of the 1900 published book written by L. Frank Baum, brought this story to life for all of those who were unable to go to the 1902 stage performance. I’ll never forget watching the movie for the first time. Seeing the screen turn from black and white, to beautiful, stunning colors was amazing. Hearing Judy Garland as Dorothy sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for the first time, left me with a lasting memory. It was as if I felt what she wasfeeling at that moment; that there was a better place…
The predominant theme of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is self-sufficiency. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion all seek external magic to give them qualities they already possess but fail to recognize. When the travelers come to a wide ditch (chapter seven), the Cowardly Lion volunteers to try jumping over it. If he can make it, he reasons, he can carry each of his friends across safely. Discussing the possibility of falling into the ditch, the Cowardly Lion responds, “‘I am terribly afraid of falling, myself but I suppose there is nothing to do but try it. ” The Lion does not realize that courage is acting despite fear, not acting in the absence of fear. In a scene at the end of chapter six, the reader sees both the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow demonstrating the very qualities they feel they are lacking. The Tin Woodman accidentally steps on a beetle and begins to weep. When his tears rust his jaw shut, no one is able to figure out what his gestures for the oil can mean except for the Scarecrow, who immediately loosens the Tin Woodman’s jaws with the oil. This scene shows how emotional the Tin Woodman is and how quick thinking the Scarecrow is.
A more mature reader can then recognize that with the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman, Baum is using irony to portray the theme of self-sufficiency. Dorothy’s situation is somewhat different because she needs a magical object (the silver shoes) to help her get back home to Kansas. Still, she fails to understand that she has had what she needs all along while continuing to seek it from others. Another important point about the silver shoes is that Dorothy earned them by killing the Wicked Witch of the East.
While she did so unintentionally, her actions resulted in the freedom of the Munchkins, which in turn resulted in her being given the magical shoes that will allow her to get home. She was not given a way home simply because she asked for one; she was given a way home because she improved the lives of the Munchkins. Dorothy’s resolve and decisiveness throughout the book also attest to her self-sufficiency. She is independent and determined, and these qualities ultimately enable her to get back home. Rather than resign herself to life in a strange land, she refuses to give up on the idea that there is a way for her to get home.