Wizard Of Oz Political Allegory

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History & English
The Wizard of Oz

Reflecting the political circumstances in America during the late 19th century, The Wizard of Oz, functions as a monetary and political allegory. Woven throughout the story, populism, the belief that regular people rather than political insiders have control over their government, and the bimetallic standard, a monetary system composed of gold or silver, are prominent themes. In The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion represent the difficulties facing many Americans during the Populist Era.
Symbolizing farmers´ issues, the Scarecrow, dressed in overalls, a straw hat, and plaid shirt holding a pitchfork searches for a brain. Poking fun at the lack of intelligence of farmers,
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Big business supported the gold standard because the value of the dollar would go up and prices would go down. Instead, farmers’ interests favored free silver in order to decrease the value of the dollar. While running for President of the United States, William Jennings Bryan gave the “Cross of Gold” speech that began the free silver crusade in support of farmers. In an attempt to build his coalition he sought support of factory workers, but they favored the gold standard and not free silver because it would decrease their pay. The Cowardly Lion’s inability to make a dent in the Tin Woodman exemplifies Bryan’s inability to make a dent in factory worker support: “He struck at the Tin Woodman with his sharp claws. But, to the Lion’s surprise, he could make no impression on the tin” (p. 51). Focusing only on free silver and ignoring foreign policy ended up being detrimental to Bryan’s campaign. In the 1900s, foreign policy with China and the Opium Wars emerged as the main issue. Corresponding to how the Lion “fell asleep” in the poppy field where opium grows, Bryan too “fell asleep” in a political sense by never focusing on this issue, and ignoring foreign policy. Ridiculed and called a “coward” by the majority of the population, Bryan, afraid to modernize his issues, stuck with the free silver mantra. To farmers, Bryan appeared courageous because he fought strongly for free silver which benefited…show more content…
The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion represent the difficulties facing many Americans during this Populist Era. Baum weaves themes from this time using metaphorical imagery and symbols to portray political figures, and those suffering from the lack of governmental policies. Diverse in many ways, the three characters symbolize farmers’ issues, mistreatment of factory workers, and William Jennings Bryan’s political career, and combined, create this
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