Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum is a classic children’s fairy tale. Dorothy, the main character is a young orphaned girl who lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. It can be inferred that Dorothy’s adventure in Oz after a cyclone hit her house was a dream, as the author writes in the last chapter, “Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.” (Baum, 213) Aunt Em was not frantically looking for Dorothy rather she was going about and doing her regular chores, assuming that Dorothy had gone off to play. Dorothy’s dream according to Sigmund Freud in his work, “The Dream-Work,” consisted of “transforming thoughts into visual images.” (27) Dorothy’s dream was a reflection of the thoughts and desires of her subconscious.

            Of characters that accompany Dorothy on her journey, the Tin Woodman is a reflection of one of her buried desires. The Tin Woodman is going to the Wizard so that the Wizard will give him what he is lacking. “I want him to give me a heart [said the Tin Woodman].” (Baum, 88-89) In actuality, this is one aspect that Dorothy subconsciously realizes that she is lacking in. Subconsciously she recognizes the fact that she is not truly grateful to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry for taking her in. Before the cyclone hit Dorothy described her Aunt and Uncle as people that “never smiled” and “never laughed.” (Baum, 2) Dorothy projected onto the Tin Woodman her desire to gain a heart in order to learn to love and appreciate her Aunt and Uncle for what they gave her.

            The central aspect of the story is Dorothy’s journey to the Emerald City to find the Wizard of Oz. As Dorothy tells the Scarecrow, “I am going to the Emerald City to ask the Great Oz to send me back to Kansas. (Baum, 26) When Dorothy arrives the Wizard tells her “if you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must…kill the Wicked Witch of the West.” (Baum, 104) This is one of the indicators of what Dorothy’s daydream is truly about. Sigmund Freud wrote in his work, “The Material and Sources of Dreams,” that a girl regards “her mother as a rival in love by whose removal she could but profit.” (5) Dorothy was an orphan but she thought of Aunt Em as a mother figure and Uncle Henry as a father figure. In this dream the Wicked Witch is a symbol for Aunt Em and the Wizard for her Uncle Henry. Dorothy subconsciously wanted to get rid of her Aunt so that she could receive all of her Uncle’s love. This idea is expressed when the Wizard told her that he could not help her until she killed the Wicked Witch for him. Dorothy rationalized the killing in her mind by portraying her Aunt as evil.

            Sigmund Freud wrote in his work, “The Dream-Work” that “[one] endeavors to arrive at the latent dream from the manifest one.” Freud meant that one can look at the actual content of Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz and discover the true meaning behind the symbols. 

1 comment:

  1. Well done--seems that there is so much one could do with the book. But perhaps that's just the nature of highly allegorical works or at least works that can be treated that way: we can run them through almost any critical lens and we'll come up with something rich...