Fairies and Fantasy:The Wizard of Oz part 2

swan_tower , who is smarter than me, and quite bit better educated, writes —


"You should be aware that most folklorists consider Bettelheim’s work to be a load of bunk. He’s terrifyingly reductionist, and wilfully made up psychological anecdotes to support his theories. And that’s before you take a step back to all the critiques of Freudian psychology in general. I wouldn’t recommend using him for the starting point of any analysis of a fantasy story.
"
I thank Ms Tower for informing me of Dr. Bettelheim’s reputation among folklorists — as I mentioned the other day, I read The Uses of Enchantment primarily because David Mamet recommended I do so, and while Mamet may not be a very good folklorist, he’s taught me many useful things about constructing narratives. (On the other hand, he has also taken up conservative politics. So there’s that.) I take seriously Ms Tower’s caution against Freudian analysis of stories, and if I actually understood what constitutes Freudian psychology I would endeavor to avoid doing that. I don’t pretend that this is "the" meaning of The Wizard of Oz, but I believe it is one possible meaning. The point being, this movie has lasted for generations for some reason, and continues to enchant and move audiences despite its dated appearances. There is, for instance, a convincing argument to be made about Wizard being a simple metaphor about a child’s development of wisdom in the negotiation of a confusing society. My goal here is to reduce the narrative (which I guess makes me reductionist, although I hope not terrifyingly so) to its smallest possible core, which leads me to a story that is solely about Dorothy and her fears and desires. And, since the adventure is, literally, "all in her head," her head seems like a good place to start.

Anyway:

At the start of Act II, Dorothy heads off down the Yellow Brick Road, off to see the Wizard. The Yellow Brick Road, it seems to me, is "the path," the route one follows on the way to self-actualization. Dorothy, her equilibrium lost, needs a path to get from where she is to where she needs to get to, and Glinda (who is either a kind of angel, or merely Dorothy’s better, wiser self) advises her to "follow the path." Meaning, one doesn’t have to wander around lost, there is always a path, a route others have taken before. Dorothy’s not a pioneer, she’s a pilgrim.free stats

She encounters three damaged males on her path: a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion. I’ve given some thought as to why a scarecrow, a tin man and lion, and I find I can’t come up with a good answer. A scarecrow is something that Dorothy (and Baum) would see as something very common, and a woodman would be easy enough to find, but why is he made of tin? (The backstory given in the book, which is not presented in the movie, seems ignorable at this point, a flag of convenience — it doesn’t really explain the rather surreal notion of a tin woodman.) And the lion — a cowardly lion is a perfectly logical paradox for a children’s story, but how does a cowardly lion relate metaphorically to a brainless scarecrow (which is not a paradox) or a heartless tin woodman (which just gets weirder the more I think about it)?

Regardless of the characters’ specifics, the thing that the three share is that they are each damaged, or incomplete, or underdeveloped. They each resemble, but aren’t quite, men. They have been reduced to identifying characteristics, one apiece: brainless, heartless, gutless.

They are also, of course, reflections of the three guys who work on Aunt Em’s and Uncle Henry’s farm, and perhaps all the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion really "mean" is that the men who work on farms in the Midwest in the Depression are wounded and incomplete. But if that’s their meaning, it’s not very well developed — their Kansas doppelgangers barely register as characters and are given no arcs to fulfill. No, they represent only what Dorothy needs them to — it’s her dream, after all, they are, they must be, can only be aspects of her own personality. It’s not that the Scarecrow doesn’t have a brain, it’s that Dorothy feels that she has no brain. And so forth. To back away from dime-store Freud for a moment and rope in some dime-store Indian mysticism instead, Act II of The Wizard of Oz could be seen as being about Dorothy "aligning her chakras," recognizing her brain, heart and gut as power centers that she needs to bring into being before she can achieve self-actualization.

Now then: the important thing to remember about the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion is that, while each of them expound at length upon their incompleteness, none of them actually exhibit their respective weaknesses. The Scarecrow complains that he cannot think, but in the very next scene (Dorothy going for — gasp — apples, on her path to self-knowledge) easily comes up with an idea to escape the angry trees and get lunch into the bargain. Neither he nor Dorothy remarks on his clever idea, but if you watch Act II of Wizard keeping your eye solely on the Scarecrow, you notice that he’s thinking all the time, more so than anyone else. And the same goes for the Tin Man — he worries that he doesn’t have a heart, and then spends the rest of the act crying over every little thing. The Lion is a little harder to pin down — he doesn’t get very much time in Act II and bears a burden of comic relief, but the point of this is that the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion all have problems that are purely, well, all in their heads. As the Wizard will eventually point out. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’ve simply convinced themselves that they are damaged and therefore cannot cope with the world, and are frozen. The Scarecrow is stuck on his pole, the Tin Man is rusted in the woods, the Lion hides in his forest, unable to sleep from fear. They are stuckin their situations, just as Dorothy is stuck in Kansas. For them to move on, to get unstuck, they first must recognize that they have a problem (calling AA) and then move toward addressing it.

What the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion learn, eventually, is that the mind, the heart and the gut are not things you acquire, but things you already have. They must be developed before one can attain personhood, and they are developed through action. That is, one acquires a brain, Wizard says, by simply pretending that one is smart. One aquires a heart by pretending to care, and one acquires courage by pretending to be brave. It sounds simple, perhaps a little too simple, but that is, I think, the lesson of The Wizard of Oz — that one’s personality is developed through the performance of simple actions; perform the action and the personality will follow.

This ties in, of course, with the Wizard, who, we will learn, is only pretending to be a wizard, with the Munchkins, who only seem to pretend to have a municipal government, and with poor Aunt Em, who has been pretending to tolerate Miss Gulch for so long that she can no longer act toward her impulse to confront her, even in a life-or-death crisis. Action is personality, suggests Wizard, but habitual action can be a prison.

In the book, the citizens of the Emerald City wear green-tinted glasses, and it is revealed that the Wizard forces everyone to wear them. When one takes them off, one finds that the Emerald City isn’t emerald at all, just a regular city, and the Wizard is a con artist. The movie skips over this point, but it gets made anyway — the Emerald City, as we will find in Act III, obviously does not "need" a Wizard, but merely pretends to — Oz seems to be a willfully, cheerfully delusional place. Look at their work schedule — "we get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done" — setting hyperbole aside, Jesus Christ, where does all this wealth come from? It’s a model of unsustainability — no one works very hard, everyone’s happy all the time, everyone has brand-new clothes, everything is clean and shiny and colorful — this is clearly a city only of the imagination.

Dorothy and her broken, incomplete men arrive at the Emerald City (after a couple of encounters with the Witch and a brief divine intervention) and are told that no one can see the Wizard.  The irony being, of course, that the Wizard is everywhere — he’s every single municipal employee in the city.  He’s the doorman, the cabbie and the palace guard (with a flower in his rifle, thirty years before Woodstock).  We are told that the Wizard is only pretending before we even officially meet him — he spends his days puttering about the Emerald City, apparently spying on the population — more on which later.

Of course, in one of the greatest end-of-Act-II reversals ever, Dorothy arrives at the throne room of the Wizard and is told that he will not do what she wishes, until she passes a test, ie, kills the Wicked Witch.  Dragging my Act I analysis forward, this would mean that Dorothy, under the influence of her God-mind, feels that she needs to face that horrible, bitter old woman she fears she’ll become, and destroy her.  This, understandably, upsets Dorothy, who has just spent the whole act building her personality, only to find her equilibrium upset once again.  Her head and heart stick by her, but her gut takes a literal dive out the palace window.  Soon she will find herself in another dark wood, her barely-integrated personality threatened by another kind of storm, but that’s for another day.

A note on structure: I don’t know why it’s taken me 40 years to notice this, but The Wizard of Oz is beautifully paced, which I think is a big part of its enduring appeal. Each segment builds to a climax, every ten minutes or so, and each climax ends in a song (except for, of course, the twister scene, and, mysteriously, the whole third act), and each song catapults the action, literally, further down the road.

Comments

47 Responses to “Fairies and Fantasy:The Wizard of Oz part 2”
  1. mcbrennan says:

    Well–re the Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and so forth, I’ve always heard (perhaps incorrectly) that they were intended as some kind of 1890s political allegory–the Tin Man representing the industrial worker, the scarecrow being the farmer, the cowardly lion being…actually I have no idea what the lion would be. Teddy Roosevelt or William Jennings Bryan or Uncle Sam or something. No idea if Baum himself had that intent.

    This is neither here nor there but one of the things I’ve always taken away from this movie is the sense that her time in Oz is a fleeting moment of awareness. An epiphany. Satori. I think we all want to believe there’s more to life than the grinding tedium we usually experience–and I think we all want to believe we’re super-extra-special, that all our triumphs and tragedies and friends and enemies are larger than life, especially when we’re younger. And that only in the eyes of our parents (or parental figures) are our magical adventures reduced to black-and-white drudgery, where all magic becomes humbug, all heroes just broken-down farmhands. In that regard it might be the first teenage angst film.

    But what do I know. I like your personality theory better and look forward to the next installment.

  2. lolavavoom says:

    Any bets that in 18 months we’ll see a Mamet play open off Bway starring a turnip, a fireman, and a dump truck?

  3. stormwyvern says:

    Regarding the Tin Woodman, I think you’re probably right that his being a tin man has less to do with the logic of the movie and more to do with the fact that he is a major character in the book and changing what he is would be straying too far from the source material. That being said though, you can kind of make the argument that each of them wants something that is the last thing you would expect them to want. In the film, I think you are meant to see the Tin Woodman as a kind of robot. I seem to remember that he makes some reference to being built. So he’s a machine, but he desperately wants to have feelings. The lion is a creature we generally think of as noble and brave, yet this one is a timid wimp who desperately wants courage. I can’t quite figure how the last thing you would expects a scarecrow to want is brains more than anything else. I’m not sure there’s any formula that perfectly connects all three of them aside from the fact that they all want something that they actually already possess. Does the Lion have courage already? You could say that his initial attack on Dorothy and her companions shows that he can at least act the part of being fierce so long as he doesn’t believe his opponents pose any threat to him. And since courage is even more a state of mind than brains or a heart, maybe that’s all he needs. Dorothy, of course, also fits into this formula. She wants to go home, but in reality, she is home. Ruby slippers aside, Oz is all just a dream and she has never physically left Kansas.

    Is the ultimate message of the film that pretending you have a particular quality makes it so? I’m not sure that’s the case. You point out yourself that none of these characters actually have anything wrong with them. They’re just trapped by their perceptions of themselves: “I’m a scarecrow, made of cloth and straw. People use brains to think and be smart. I wasn’t made with a brain, so I must be stupid, incapable of thinking.” “I’m a tin man. My creator left my chest empty. Human feel and love with their hearts (putting aside the brain being the actual center of emotion for the sake of the argument). I have no heart, so I must no be able to feel or love.” “I’m a lion. Lions are supposed to be brave by nature, but not me. I sse how every little thing could hurt me. So I must be missing something that would make me brave, like a normal lion.” What the Wizard ends up giving the three of them are not the physical body parts they desire (adrenal glands for the Lion?) but placebos which let them remove the mental blocks that make them think they are lacking. He gives them the outer trappings of having brains, a heart, and courage, outside recognition that they already possess these attributes. Dorothy is the only one of the four who actually wants something physical, and the only one the Wizard doesn’t end up helping, but even her desire is actually just a mental matter, as the distance between herself and her home is all in her head.

    A few differences between the film and the book that I happen to recall: in the original book, each of the four characters goes to see the Wizard separately and each one sees him as something different (which plays well into the idea of Oz as a godlike figure.) One of them sees Oz as a ball of fire and I think another sees a beautiful woman. After he’s revealed as a humbug, the Wizard shows the four heroes how he used simple parlor tricks to create each illusion that they saw. The other difference I remember is that the Wizard does actually give each of the characters something akin to what they asked for. The Scarecrow gets a “brain” made of pins and needles. The Tin Man receives a fake heart (which I seem to recall being made of silk). The Lion gets a potion to give him courage. What I can’t recall is whether there’s any indication in the book that these things are just as much placebos as the gifts given in the movie, designed to make the characters believe they have been “fixed” when they were never really broken.

    • Todd says:

      “She wants to go home, but in reality, she is home. Ruby slippers aside, Oz is all just a dream and she has never physically left Kansas.”

      Or, she wishes to “become a real person” and finds she was always that person all along, which we’ll get to next time.

      I don’t mean to say that “pretending is doing” is the ultimate lesson of Wizard, but it’s one of the lessons we learn as we go along.

      • stormwyvern says:

        “Ultimate lesson” may have been a bit too strong of a term, but I’m not sure I entirely buy it as a lesson. As you said, they already are smart and caring and possibly even courageous and thus have no need to pretend to be so. Their actions demonstrate that they have these qualities, so all they really need to do is stop believing that they are somehow defective. They don’t actually need to head down the AA path and admit that they have a problem; they need to admit that there is no problem beyond their continuing belief that they are deficient.

  4. toysdream says:

    Dorothy’s not a pioneer, she’s a pilgrim.

    Very true! In this respect it’s appropriate that the setup of Wizard of Oz resembles that of other quest stories like the Chinese “Journey to the West,” where the characters are literally pilgrims going to fetch Buddhist sutras.

    And I like your suggestion that the witches, good and bad, represent versions of the adult Dorothy. It’s definitely interesting to think about!

    As for the flaws of Dorothy’s companions, I feel like those make a bit more sense in the original book. The movie versions just seem to be ironically lacking in confidence, whereas the book versions have to develop strengths to compensate for their actual flaws – for example, the Scarecrow’s lack of brains means that he has no knowledge (having literally been born yesterday), so he has to reason everything out with his intelligence instead.

  5. Take two…

    Not to discount , just about everything is reductionist, even this comment!!!!!!!

  6. marcochacon says:

    I do not know what the characters represent–but back in the day I once ran a Gamma World game (you may not know what that is–but then again, judging from what I’ve read, maybe you do) where the characters encountered an undead traveler, a cyborg with dead power-cells, and a lion-man mutant on the road to find the fabled EM-City, a last remaining megapolis after the fall of civilization. They were pursued by one of the four evil “oil barons” who fielded jet-pack augmented gorillas as minions.

    -Marco

  7. chatoyant_1 says:

    I always thought the name “Auntie Em” was curious, of course short for Emma, but it sounds right up there with the best of Freud’s case-studies: “Auntie M” as in Aunt-Mother.

    I think what brings a certain invitation to consider the film according to a psychoanalytical reading is partly starting with the fact of the time period, and that the resulting film didn’t follow the “fantasy” rules of the time.

    It didn’t code completely in any genre to be anticipated, made safe. For the first six months it was under different directors and ideas for execution. So it was the “fantasy” that allowed to seam together many different parts, and stars and the resulting production itself was uncanny to a certain degree. It’s hard to just produce that, it had alot of chance events.

    An interesting anectdote from George Cukor is that he was brought on just before Fleming, as the film was already in preperation for six months. He didn’t last it 3 days (the producer hoped he would, but knew Cukor didn’t want to work fantasy and with kids). But before leaving he changed one thing, which is crucial to the film’s psychological distinction from what went before it: he got rid of Judy Garland’s blond wig and cute doll-face makeup and restored her down-to-earth look.

    It makes perfect sense that Cukor, the “women’s director”, saves Garland from hokey children’s movie garb, and introduces one kind of character, a more contemporary feel, the adult/girl woman and corresponding angles in, then leaving it for Fleming to take on the surrounding stage-fantasy — all that makes “Oz” so … Oz.

    Had Garland remained in doll-face the whole thing would have been a cartoon. Because she specifically doesn’t change when she goes over the threshold between let’s say, “states of mind” her character invites all the psychological readings in, certainly as she inter-relates with the different other characters – the familiar everyday around her that is just a bit transformed, and who all look a bit more “real” around her.

    It’s interesting to compare to 1933 “Alice in Wonderland” with W.C. Fields, where there is no real interest in the “Alice” character to play off the others, who are all wonderful, if not surreally, executed in their make-up.

  8. ndgmtlcd says:

    Yes, you’re right, the rythm never falters. It’s perfectly planned, pefectly cut, like the best of the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes. Except that those cartoons were only a few minutes long while The Wizard of Oz manages this for hours. It’s a little marvel of pacing and I’d never thought about it.

  9. rennameeks says:

    Since not everyone has read the book, the backstory behind the Tin Woodsman is that he started out as an ordinary human woodchopper. He angered a witch (Mombi, IIRC), who cursed his axe, which chopped off his leg (or possibly an arm, I forget which) while he was working. The woodchopper went to a nearby tinsmith who replaced the missing body part and allowed him to get back to work. The axe, still cursed, chopped off the woodsman’s other leg, so he got a replacement. This kept happening until he was made entirely of tin. (The rules of Oz prevent anyone from dying, IIRC, so he wasn’t instantly killed when beheaded.) The Tin Woodsman was proud of his new form, as he couldn’t have any more parts chopped off, and felt indestructable. However, he lost his ability to feel (or thought he did) and dearly missed his heart. The Tin Man eventually got caught in the rain and rusted until Dorothy found him. Considering that this is the same guy who kept using the CURSED AXE until he lost all his body parts, you can imagine what kind of intelligence was at work here.

    As to why he was made of tin as opposed to any other metal, tin is still softer than most other metals, so he’s a “softer” sort of metal man, if you will. Hard, but soft. Not exactly ironic, unless in an Alanis Morissette kind of way.

    The other possible reasoning could be tied to the Tin Woodsman’s later-revealed rival, the Tin Soldier, another former human who befell the same fate as the Woodsman (replace the axe with a sword) and went to the same tinsmith. The tinsmith, however, GAVE HIM A HEART MADE OF TIN, which rattles around loudly inside of him, as it’s not fastened to anything. The Soldier, however, is less “feeling” than the Woodsman, tin heart or no. The two men have more than just tin bodies in common; they fell in love with the same human woman, who I believe was the reason they ticked off the witch in the first place, IIRC.

    So yeah, tweaking the concept of the tin soldier to get the Woodsman? It’s a possibility.

    • Todd says:

      “He angered a witch (Mombi, IIRC), who cursed his axe, which chopped off his leg (or possibly an arm, I forget which) while he was working … Considering that this is the same guy who kept using the CURSED AXE until he lost all his body parts, you can imagine what kind of intelligence was at work here.”

      I can see no possible application Freudian psychology with this character.

    • misterseth says:

      >>He angered a witch (Mombi, IIRC), who cursed his axe,< <

      It was actually the WW of the East. Mombi was the one who kidnapped Princess Ozma and transformed her into the boy Tip.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the Tin Woodman is also just a little joke on the words themselves. After all, a “woodman” is a man made of wood, but not this guy — he’s made of tin!
      –Ed.

  10. misterseth says:

    Hmmm, a lot of people have brought up the possible political allegory, but no one mentioned the Dark Side of the Moon/ Oz connection.

    More info here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_side_of_oz

  11. malsperanza says:

    Nicely done. As you say, there are other ways to read the movie, but I like focusing on Dorothy as the creator of the world she moves through. Like Harold and the Purple Crayon. Dorothy is a fabulist; perhaps we are seeing the genesis of an artist.

    At the start of Act II, Dorothy heads off down the Yellow Brick Road, off to see the Wizard. The Yellow Brick Road, it seems to me, is “the path,” the route one follows on the way to self-actualization.

    [Insert here a capsule defense of the value of Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, another much-criticized book (and author, and legitimately so), which nevertheless has influenced some brilliant thinking about fairy tales. Not to mention Jung.]

    What the movie does so well is to concretize the idea of the hero’s journey: the path is a literal path, and literally golden.

    She encounters three damaged males on her path: a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion.

    As is often true of picaresque journey stories (and stories of sentimental education), she meets many people episodically on the road, but 3 of them become companions. Frex, she meets the various Munchkins, and the apple trees and the 2 witches, and the doorman of Oz (and why, BTW, is he the same actor who plays the Wizard?). But the 3 who become her fellow-travelers are different. All the others give Dorothy information that is useful to her quest: Wake up you sleepyhead; That was her sister you killed; Wear the shoes; Follow the road; Go to the city; Don’t pick my apples; You call that long?; Bell out of order; Nobody’s ever seen the Great Oz, etc.

    Only the 3 companions know nothing. They are as lacking in information as Dorothy herself; what they have, instead, is wisdom, feeling, and fortitude. Dorothy is a little girl living in an adult (mostly male) world. As such, she has no information, and that makes her vulnerable. She doesn’t know what the law says about dogs that bite, or how to combat it. In order to survive in Kansas (and thus in Oz) she has to draw upon things other than information, and also to discover how to get the information she needs. Here again, the movie reifies these ideas as literal people: Wisom, feeling, and courage become friends and fellow questers.

    If her goal in the movie is a) to get home (= discover the meaning and value of home); and b) to save Toto from the snare of the Law, she has to acquire the necessary information and the adult skills to implement it.

    Oddly, the movie ends without any clear resolution of Toto’s legal problem. We are left to assume that everyone is so happy that Dorothy is alive that they won’t let Miss Gulch kill the pup. Or something. It hardly matters.

    I’ve given some thought as to why a scarecrow, a tin man and lion, and I find I can’t come up with a good answer.

    One of the things I like in the movie is that it makes no effort to explain this–or, for that matter, the flying monkeys wearing bellhop uniforms, the fact that evil witches are made of brown sugar, or anything else. Once we are in Dorothy’s head, the logic of dreams operates and that’s that. This gave me great joy as a child and I still admire it now. So many movies (especially those aimed at kids) explain everything, backstory everything; it takes real artfulness to allow viewers to supply their own connective tissue without merely lumping together an incoherent, unjustified set of snippets.

    (Dorothy going for — gasp — apples, on her path to self-knowledge)

    Small aside: I’ve always wondered if the crabby talking apple trees were a source for Tolkien’s Ents.

    • Todd says:

      Yeah, Toto is left hanging at the end of the movie. I can almost see him poking his nose up into the frame and saying “um, it’s nice that you’ve realized there’s no place like home and all, but I’m going to be dead tomorrow. FYI.”

      What, Joe Campbell was discredited too? I have to get out more often.

      • malsperanza says:

        I don’t know if Campbell is thoroughly discredited–he has many defenders, but he’s certainly much-debated: Pop-folklore, pop-psych, shallow thinking, casually lumping together totally unrelated cultural traditions because they exhibit some superficial similarities–especially when doing so helps him make his points, etc. He tried to develop a single overarching theory of myth, which is a very 1960s kind of enterprise.

        But I daresay he has done more to make the interpretation of myths and fairy tales interesting to the general public than anyone since, uh, Bettelheim. He was also accused of antisemitism–mainly, I think, because he had very little to say about the Holocaust.

        FWIW, Mircea Eliade (whose work on myths is by far my favorite), was a Fascist in Romania in his youth. Go figure.

      • misterseth says:

        Yeah, Toto is left hanging at the end of the movie. I can almost see him poking his nose up into the frame and saying “um, it’s nice that you’ve realized there’s no place like home and all, but I’m going to be dead tomorrow.

        Of course, Miss Gulch could have been killed by the cyclone…

    • Anonymous says:

      Winged Monkeys

      In the book, the Winged Monkeys are enchanted, enslaved to whomever wears a golden cap — the wearer of the cap gets three wishes that the monkeys must fulfill.

      This part of the story is only slightly apparent in the movie, in a scene in which the king of the monkeys shakes a golden cap at the Wicked Witch of the West. He’s basically telling her that she’s down to her last wish, but there’s no way you can understand this without knowing the book. In the movie, you just think, “Why is he shaking a hat at her?”

      –Ed.

      • malsperanza says:

        Re: Winged Monkeys

        I didn’t know that–interesting! I think I read at least a few of the Oz books as a kid, but clearly they made no impression on me because I don’t remember any of the details. What I admire so much in the movie is that it leaves lots of open spaces for the viewer’s own imagination to participate in the storytelling, but not at the expense of clarity or coherence. I think this is one reason why it is so resonant.

        In the movie, you just think, “Why is he shaking a hat at her?”

        Well if you’re me, you don’t get that far. You just think: Why do those monkeys have wings? And also, why are they blue? Or else, you don’t ask. You just think, Oh! Now there are blue monkeys with wings that fly in formations reminiscent of WW II bombers. Later there will be a purple horse, and Dorothy will get her hair done.

        Another big question: What exactly are the Winkie Guards singing when they march over the bridge? According to the screenplay, it’s “O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!” But in my mind, as a child, it was more menacing, and also weird, a sort of mondegreen chant that I heard as “Go We Know! We Go Low!” Scared me silly.

      • Todd says:

        Re: Winged Monkeys

        I just watched the movie a couple of days ago, for the fortieth time or so — and still have no memory of a monkey shaking a golden hat at anybody. On the other hand, I did notice the monkey’s haircuts this time around — two hours styling time a day, at least! It’s one thing when the lackadaisical Munchkins have the wacky, lacquered hair, but monkeys? They’ve got work to do, maintaining the witch’s castle and kidnapping farmgirls, they can’t spend all day at the hair salon. Although I suppose they could do each other’s hair, which would cut down on the total amount of time spent in hair treatment, but we’re still talking about a lot of monkey-hours lost on hair-time, not to mention the massive amounts of product being consumed.

  12. selectnone says:

    The irony being, of course, that the Wizard is everywhere — he’s every single municipal employee in the city. He’s the doorman, the cabbie and the palace guard

    I’ve never noticed that at all – thanks for pointing that out!
    (I’ve not seen Oz in a very long time though, perhaps it’s actually quite obvious)

  13. swan_tower says:

    I don’t know about “smarter” — I’m the one who keeps coming around here to learn from your story analysis. 🙂 You just happened to land on a patch of turf where I am well-educated indeed.

    For the record, I don’t think the flaws in Bettelheim render your analysis of The Wizard of Oz any less interesting. I just had a knee-jerk reaction of “OH HELL NO” when I saw his name come up as your starting point. 🙂 I think I’m more persuaded by this interpretive lens when it sticks to more general notions like “the Wicked Witch represents an image of adult femininity” than when it gets specific on the level of “Toto represents Dorothy’s id,” but that’s probably my distaste for Freudianism more than anything else; as far as story analysis goes, I tend to find Jungian imagery more useful to think with. There are good points in here, though, about her three companions, and the nature of the Wizard.

  14. jtron says:

    Look at their work schedule — “we get up at twelve and start to work at one, take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done” — setting hyperbole aside, Jesus Christ, where does all this wealth come from?

    The poppy fields, man!

  15. sewsweet says:

    i dont know if this is a rehash of what has already been said about the psychoanalysis. i saw the tin man/scarecrow/lion/witch/glinda as projected aspects of dorothy that she either desired to have or desired to escape from. keep in mind this is also a coming of age story, dorothy is learning about who she is becoming, as she changes from child to young lady.

    scarecrow has no brain – dorothy fears becoming moronic, not taken seriously. as you get older you get smarter, and dorothy fears or just dislikes being seen as immature

    tin man has no heart – dorothy does not want to become heartless and insensitive. she thinks that becoming an adult is about putting away your feelings, when really its just about keeping them in check. i believe she also fears that she’ll lose some of that drama that comes with being a high strung pre-teen

    lion has no courage – dorothy wants to be able to stand up for herself and what she wants. as a child she is not respected or taken seriously because of her age, but she wants to aquire this. i think this is why the lion is created as a mammal, closer genetically than a tin man or a scarecrow, which are not ‘real’ creatures. dorothy probably most identifies with the lion, is always scared. note how she whines about toto througout the whole first act? thats her fear.

    as for the witches, i think glinda is the idealized woman that dorothy wants to eventually become (beautiful, virile, intelligent, brave, sensitive) and the wicked witch is the woman dorothy does not want to become (ugly, barren, cruel, cowardly, insensitive)

    also i redesigned the costumes 🙂

  16. dougo says:

    Lion/scarecrow/tin man = animal/vegetable/mineral.

    After that, I got nothin’.

  17. jvowles says:

    How about this one:

    They represent three different approaches to dealing with the rough stuff out there in the world.

    The Scarecrow handles his fear by feigning stupidity and weightlessness. He hides his intelligence and thus can take a beating and roll with the punches. He can pretend to be too stupid to understand the consequences, and talk himself into feeling no pain. But real passion — or fire — puts the lie to his mental shields.

    The Tin Woodman is armed and armor-clad; he chooses weapons and armor to face the challenges, to shield his squishy interior. He’s far from heartless, as his frequent emotional outbursts reveal. But the downside to his armor plating is that he can become too stiff to move. He puts up a barrier that is just as limiting to him as it is useful in shielding him from blows.

    And the Lion first appears as a bully — he deals with fear by roaring and being scary, but the front quickly dissolves the moment there’s any resistance, which he deals with by running away. He becomes brave, and fierce, only when others are in danger.

    From them Dorothy integrates her heart, mind, and gut, as you suggest — but in dealing with the scary problem of life, she learns that rolling with the punches, shielding yourself, putting up a brave face, and running away only go so far; the more useful traits are using your wits, relying on your moral compass and empathy, and being selfless.