There exist very few fantasy authors in the contemporary world of literature, who are not significantly influenced and inspired by Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Similarly, no child’s library should be considered complete without Baum’s enchanting fantasy novel, rich in enduring themes of courage, resourcefulness, and loyalty, as well as unforgettable characters like the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Cowardly Lion. In view of Robles et al., the novel’s inspirational stance justifies why it continues to be a favorite to many, prompting its translation to the stage as well as film several times (112). First published in 1990, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has not only met commercial but also critical success due to its rich inspirational lessons on importance of friendship, virtue, and self-sufficiency, making it so alluring, timeless, a reason why other media has adapted it.
Through the lens of the characters and the theme of self-contradiction, Wonderful Wizard of Oz stresses the critical need for self-sufficiency. To begin with, the Scarecrow believes he does not possess brains. Similarly, the Tin Woodman complains of lacking a heart, with the Lion thinking that he is deprived of courage (Gale 5). In essence, the Scarecrow turns out to be the most intelligent character in the novel, the Lion as the most courageous and gracious, and the Tin Woodman as full of compassion. The Scarecrow’s knowledge increased with each new challenging situation. With this expansion of knowledge, came wisdom as well as the capability of judging rightly. For instance, when Dorothy feels hungry at a point in their journey and was tempted to eat apples from a tree, the Scarecrow knew what the appealing apples contained (Gale 9). His knowledge provided him with wisdom to understand that the apples should not be consumed, regardless of how appealing and appetizing they seemed. The Scarecrow acknowledges that part of being intelligent, possessing a brain, and being educated is possessing the wisdom to detect when you are personally susceptible, and consequently, avoid anything that directs you towards the vulnerability (Baum 27).
In light of this, the reader understands that the characters readily possess the traits they believe they lack, though the characters cannot notice this y themselves. The characters believe they have to seek help from the Wizard. At the end of the novel, the Wizard and his benign trickery, reveal these traits. For instance, the Lion uses his bravery and power to take his rightful position of the King of Beasts (Baum 22). Correspondingly, the Scarecrow becomes a wise ruler of the city of Emerald, thanks to his intellect. Similarly, the Tin manages to be the kind ruler of the Winkies. The implication is that all along, the three characters had what they needed within them, and did not necessitate anyone else to solve their problems or fix them. According to Gale, The coincidence also suffices for Dorothy who seeks the help of the Witch yet she was already on the silver shoes, which could have taken her home (29). Through the experiences of the characters, the author communicates that the moral of finding our inner strength is lasting and enduring, further pointing to the importance of self-sufficiency.
Baum’s clear promulgation of some customary American virtues further gives Wonderful Wizard of Oz an inspirational stance. The key virtues highlighted in the novel include modesty, simplicity, hard work, and fortitude (Robles et al. 114). The inhabitants of Emerald City and the Munchkins work cheerfully and diligently, with the people of Emerald City working despite the fact that they do not have to. What is more, the people are humble and modest. The same attributes are also evident in Dorothy, who does not use the silver shoes or the Golden Cap for selfish or reprehensible purposes. Additionally, her conduct is mannered and upright, showing palpable bashfulness and dismay at murdering the Witch of the East. Dorothy and her friends also exemplify fortitude by their steadfast determination as they travel from the Emerald City to Glinda’s castle. Despite the rough road and the common misadventures, they proceed with their journey with minimal complaints (Gale 12). Similarly, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman succeed in all their endeavors due to their brains, courage, and compassion, respectively. Notably, Baum values devotion to one’s goals. Importantly, Dorothy’s meek and sweet morality embodies simplicity. She neither despairs nor worries. She is neither selfish nor angry. Even though she is not an intellectual, hew wide-eyed and childishness nature renders her a unique and alluring heroine. Overall, through the lens of the characters, he author inspires his readers to uphold the above-described virtues.
Wonderful Wizard of Oz makes it clear how essential friendship is. This ardent friendship is seen in the relationship between Dorothy and Toto, the only friend who brings her joy and light (Baum 26). Furthermore, the even more prominent friendship is evident in the relationship between Dorothy and Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman. The three friends provide both physical and emotional support to Dorothy as she moves to Emerald City, and back to Kansas (Gale 18). For instance, the Lion carries her over a massive abyss, traversed across a river, safeguards her from numerous minions sent after them by the Witch, and protects her from the fatal poppy field. Above all, her friends advise her and give counsel to her, while also solving the thorniest problems of the journey. Robles et al. argue that while Dorothy is not their deep confidantes, they protect her and give her right directions (118). They all volunteer to accompany Dorothy on her final journey to the castle of Glinda, despite the fact that they all had other tasks to perform. In any case, Dorothy might not have gotten any far without the help of the three friends, painting the critical role of friendship in the novel.
Overall, Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has achieved both commercial and critical success, following its rich inspiring message on a wide range of subjects such as virtue, importance of friendship, as well as self-sufficiency. As a result, the novel has been widely considered alluring, a reason why other media has adapted it. As a story of worthy desire disillusioned by self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and perceived fruitless self-talk, the author communicates and stresses the critical need for self-sufficiency, arguing that self-limiting ideas are the greatest barriers to growth and development. The story hence concerns the value of the experiences of life that are critical for individual growth and development. While Baum’s novel is a children’s tale, it revolves around themes and message that apply to everyone.
Baum, Frank L. Oxford Children’s Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Oxford University Press-Children, 2015.
Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for L. Frank Baum’s” The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.
Robles, Víctor Ignacio Poblete, et al. “Dorothy’s journey from l. Frank baum’s the wizard of oz: chaos presented as an essential element in the search for the fulfilment of her object of desire.” Revista Imago 10 (2016): 111-154.