Freud's Oz: Freudian Views in the Wizard of Oz

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Freud's Oz: Freudian Views in The Wizard of Oz

The film The Wizard of Oz is definitely about the concept of returning home. This is made clear throughout the film. Dorothy's entire time in Oz is spent trying to get back home to Kansas. Then when she gets back home she tells Aunt Em that "all I kept saying to everybody was ‘I want to go home.'" This fits perfectly with the time, 1939, that The Wizard of Oz was produced. One reason was that due to the depression, many people were forced away from their homes and into cities. Another reason was that America was on the verge of entering into another war, WWII, and the threat of having to send troops away from home was very real. And, as stated by Paul Nathanson in Over the Rainbow (156), "going home is fundamentally linked, for many Americans, with growing up." With this in mind, it seems a good way of evaluating The Wizard of Oz is by Dorothy's process of growing up, her maturation. Also, since Dorothy's adventure to Oz is clearly in the form of a dream, it seems a good way of analyzing Dorothy's maturation is by looking at this dream compared with real ones, and using modern dream analogy from the Freudian perspective.

The act that spurs the entire action of the movie, according to Freudian Daniel Dervin ( Over The Rainbow 163 ), is Dorothy witnessing the "primal scene". The "primal scene" refers to a child witnessing sexual intercourse between mother and father; an moment that is both terrifying and confusing to the child. According to Dervin, this event sends Dorothy towards her final stage of childhood development ( Freud believed in three stages of childhood development ) the phallic phase. Terrified of the idea of being destroyed by father's phallus, Dorothy projects ( another of Freud's ides was that of projection, turning a feeling into something other than itself ) her fear into the form of the tornado. In deed Dervin even suggests that this tornado "may well be a remarkably apt representation of the paternal phallus in its swollen, twisting, penetrating, state which is part of the primal scene." The question then becomes, where did this primal scene take place? In the movie Dorothy has her own room, but in the book she shares a one-room house with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Understanding this background, Freudians believe that viewers subconsciously understand the cinematic setting as an appropriate one for the primal scene.

Dorothy is then taken away by the tornado, a form of her anxiety over the primal scene, to Oz. When Dorothy arrives in Oz she is able to symbolically replay the primal scene by means of smaller conflicts that Dorothy can more easily overcome. Dorothy does deal with her feelings towards Aunt Em in her dream about Oz. In Kansas it is shown that Aunt Em is unable to provide Dorothy with enough love and attention. This is evidenced by her dismissal of Dorothy's pleas for help with Toto. Since in Kansas any negative feelings towards Aunt Em are not allowed, Dorothy represses them. Now that Dorothy is in her dream world she can express those hostile feelings. Dorothy does this through splitting Aunt Em into two separate people. One representing all of the good qualities in Aunt Em, and one representing all of the bad ones. The stern, businesslike Aunt Em is made into the Wicked Witch of the West. The loving and caring side of Aunt Em is placed onto Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. The Wicked Witch of the West, the bad side of Aunt Em, is killed by Dorothy, but it is accidental. The fact that it is accidental saves Dorothy from any feelings of guilt.

Dorothy also needs to deal with her feelings towards her father ( or father figure ) in a less dramatic manner. This is done by making her father into the Wizard. According to Dervin ( Over The Rainbow 165 ), there is a connection between the Wizard and the storm in Kansas. The Emerald City could be used as an example of this because of the verticality of the bars...
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