The Wizard of Oz: an Exploration of the Connections to the Populist Movement

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The Wizard of Oz:
An Exploration of the Connections to the Populist Movement Dorothy, as played by Judy Garland in the movie, was a young teenage girl who, when a tornado hit her house in Kansas, was magically transferred to Oz with her dog, Toto. Dorothy was seen as the Everyman who just wanted to get back to the way things used to be. She embodies what every American wants to be: loyal, strong-willed, and resourceful. Henry Littlefield identifies her, “"Dorothy is Baum's Miss Everyman. She is one of us, levelheaded and human, and she has a real problem." Hugh Rockoff of Rutgers University sees her in a similar manner, “Dorothy represents America—honest, kindhearted and plucky." Dorothy comes from an area where Populism was its strongest and therefore is connected to the average American citizen who wants to be able to stand up to the stronger power and fight for the greater good. Jack Weatherford sees Dorothy almost the same as Littlefield and Rockoff. He also believes that she was based upon the Populist spokeswoman Leslie Kelsey who was later nicknamed “the Kansas Tornado.” Even if using the spiritual journey as the meaning for The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is seen as the seeker of enlightenment or redemption. The Scarecrow is Dorothy’s first friend in Oz. He is meant to be a symbol for the western farmer. Several opinions of Kansas’ farmers were present in the late 19th century. One was brought up in the Emporia Gazette in August of 1896 when William Allen White presented the article What’s the Matter with Kansas? In this he brings about the question of when every other country in the United States is gaining in all ways, why it is that Kansas has gone in the opposite direction and has a deficit in everything. The Scarecrow characterizes the Kansas farmer because he doesn’t think that he is enabled with the characteristics that were in actuality his best. The Scarecrow did not think he was intelligent and when proposing an idea to the group he wasn’t...
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