The Wizard of Oz – A Critical Review
Before I go off on this book – true to form – you can find the few decent quotes I discovered at the end of this post.
So – The Wizard of Oz. Yep. Being that I currently live in the land of Oz and have had a gray to color transformation myself, I was most interested in this written novel. Thankfully it didn’t take long to read the 189 pages of – umm – wonder?? Oh it’s a wonder alright. And I’ll tell you what, after reading L. Frank Baum’s “masterpiece” I do not wonder at ALL why some libraries in the early 1900s banned the book for poor quality writing! But I DO wonder why this book is considered a classic. Sure the movie helped make it famous – but the book itself – apart from Hollywood – hmm – yeah – not impressed.
There is a “Things to Consider” section at the end of this Penguin Classic (which is different from Popular Penguins mind you) and I’ve decided to consider what they suggest.
1. “Dorothy is considered by many to have all the best character traits a girl could hope to have. What do you think these are?”
Omgoodness. No, no, no, no, no. Dorothy is the absolute WORST example of what a girl or a human being should be. Dorothy is as gray and plain as the Kansas she left behind!! Not only does she have ZERO personality but she lacks courage, cries instead of finding solutions, depends on everyone else to do EVERYTHING for her, has no imagination, no curiosity, and is NOT a team player.
How about the time she was just going to walk away from her friends because oh gee that’s too bad you’re about to die but I’ve got to get to Oz so good luck!
Or how about how she kept rubbing it in to her friends “Oh that’s too bad you don’t have a heart.” “Sucks you’re not smart” or “Your new name is the COWARDly Lion – how does THAT make you feel?” Maybe if she had a heart or a brain herself she would have noticed how her friends already had that which they were seeking.
Once last point to mention, I wanted to flippin shake Dorothy and tell her to grow up! I couldn’t stand her constant crying and whining about wanting to go back to Kansas “she cried bitterly for hours and hours.” She didn’t even cry when she saw the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow destroyed! Oh but she has tears all day long about Kansas. Ever heard of just being HAPPY where you’re at? I want to go home too – but while I’m in Oz myself I’m going to make the absolute best of it.
2. What are the lessons this story taught?
Hmm … I think this story teaches that if you’re an idiot you will always be one.
Baum could have taught a powerful lesson about self-esteem and seeing yourself clearly but in the end when the wizard attempts to show the 3 characters that they already have what they desire (a brain, a heart, and courage) the characters refuse to accept it. Instead they get angry with the Wizard for not giving them what they sought. Hmm – yeah anger is definitely the right answer. And then Baum takes the easy road out and has them receive ridiculous gifts to assuage their temper and they live happily ever after – never knowing that they had it in them all along.
3. What do you think of the Wizard? Was he wrong to trick the people of Oz? Does he make up for it in the end?
The Wizard is a coward. I don’t care that he tricked the people into thinking he was a Wizard (except that it further proves he’s a coward) but I DO care about the fact that he made everyone wear goggles so they couldn’t see life for what it really was. And it bothers me that Dorothy and her friends never questioned the goggles. And after the Wizard confessed that the goggles were a big farce – it bothers me that the girl and her friends continued to wear them anyway. And after the scarecrow became king – it bugs me that he didn’t have everyone take off the goggles. So no – I don’t think he made up for it in the end.
4. What is it about the Wizard of Oz that made it a classic?
The Wizard of Oz became a classic because it used small words that were easy to understand and featured a yes-girl with no personality – things that undoubtedly appealed to the mass public in the early 1900s. Ouch – that’s harsh isn’t it? But sadly I think it’s true. And why in the world did so many things have to die? The whole book is one murder after another!
“He seized his axe, which he had made very sharp, and as the leader of the wolves came on the Tin Woodman swung his arm and chopped the wolf’s head from its body, so that it immediately died. As soon as he could raise his axe another wolf came up, and he also fell under the sharp edge of the Tin Woodman’s weapon. There were forty wolves, and forty times a wolf was killed, so that at last they all lay dead in a heap before the Woodman.
“Then he put down his axe and sat beside the Scarecrow who said, ‘It was a good fight, friend.’
“They waited until Dorothy awoke the next morning. The little girl was quite frightened when she saw the great pile of shaggy wolves, but the tin Woodman told her all. She thanked him for saving them and sat down to breakfast, after which they started again upon their journey.”
Umm – ok. So she sees FORTY headless wolves in the morning but is just like, “Oh ok let’s eat some brekky and be on our way.” And a good fight? Yeah – a fight where 40 wolves died and didn’t have a chance is REALLY good.
The next page goes on to explain how the scarecrow twisted the necks of 40 crows until they died. Really uplifting stuff here isn’t it?
Well I considered what they asked and it made me hate the book even more. I hope the next “classic” I’m about to read is a little better than this one. I can’t imagine it could be much worse …
“No matter how dreary and grey our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.” – Dorothy
“…once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart. … brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” – Tin Woodman
“… a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.” – Scarecrow
“As long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.” – Lion
“Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge.” – Wizard
“There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” – Wizardup!!