For all of the surreal fright in The Wizard Of Oz , the darkest part is a little bit of symbolism that pretty much everybody misses. What constructs it even darker is that the creators didn’t even mean to put it there — it only oozed out of their subconscious.
Even if you’ve never watched the 1939 classic, “youre supposed to” get the gist of it. Dorothy, a lonely Kansas girl who counts middle-aged farmhands and a puppy as her best and only friend, bumps her chief during a tornado and passes out. While sleeping, she has what most of us would consider a traumatizing nightmare, in which she casts herself as an unwitting murderer not once but twice — three times if you count what she did to way by wearing socks with pumps. So even before we get into the dreadful subtext, Dorothy has a fairly high body count for a rural teen. She never gets atrociously upset by this( though as a farm girl in 1939, she probably watched person get accidentally mutilated by a thresher each week or so ).
Her first episode of manslaughter happens when her mansion lands on the Wicked Witch of the East — a living, exhaling humanish person whose fatality immediately prompts a joyful carol about how she’s entirely dead and burning in Hell now.
Manslaughter# 2 happens when Dorothy accidentally throws sea on the Wicked Witch of the East’s sister, the Wicked Witch of the West. Water, it turns out, is WWW’s merely allergy, and she promptly melts. Her fatality is likewise greeted with cheers, because the only person who loved her is decomposing under a house in Munchkinland.
Joining Dorothy in her imaginary technicolor flee from justice are the three men who work on her family farm , now dressed up like freaks, and an even older man who pretended to read her luck( in his trailer !) that very day. Her option of friends are problematic in my volume, but I’ll get to that in a minute. The real trouble with The Wizard Of Oz is that Dorothy’s dream was never meant to be a dream at all. This right here is the first part of the hidden darkness we promised you a few paragraphs ago.
When L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard Of Oz , he played the story straight-out. As in, Dorothy truly did travel to Oz and satisfy a Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man, and those three pals weren’t lazy analogues for the adult humankinds in her life.( This explains why he was able to wrote more than a dozen of these books without this poor daughter getting a concussion every time out .) It was MGM, the studio behind the movie, that looked at the box office numbers behind recent fantasy movies and chose audiences required their witch and wizard narratives grounded in reality. So they settled on the tired age-old Alice In Wonderland “It was all a dream” aiming explanation.
Walt Disney Pictures
Why was this a big deal? In one two-minute scene, the studio stripped Dorothy of her entire adventure and turned her into a crazy person. Without the dreaming, Dorothy is Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and E.T. rolled into one, and she was conceived and in publication before most Americans had flushing lavatories in their homes. Without the daydream, she’s a real-deal witch slaughterer who travels on foot across a country that no one in her world had ever seen before. She builds a squad of fellow adventurers, exposes a fraudulent president, and liberates two different races of Oz from bondage. She even lives a heroin overdose.
Turn her whole story into a dreaming, and we’ve got problems. For one thing, this young girl passes out, wakes up, and blurts out that the three men who work on her aunt and uncle’s farm were with her in her nightmare. Not her aunt or uncle, simply their workers. So … the whole thing was a sexuality dreaming, right? If Dorothy was a teenage guy and dreamed about traveling on his own with three older, familiar women in the expectations of gratifying a fourth older, familiar lady, there would have been a liquid situation to deal with upon waking.
Not to mention the weird project situation that happens once that the boss’s niece proclaims that she’s been daydream about hanging out with “the mens” on “the farmers “. Even in the movie, the farmhands respond to her confession with awkward, polite laughter.
Even if we take the high road and reject the obvious, indisputable reality that Dorothy’s whole escapade in Oz was a sexual waken, there are much bigger difficulties at play with her tale becoming a dreaming sequence. The first is that everyone in the room laughs at her when she tells them where she went. When she asks, “Doesn’t anybody believe me? ” her uncle answers “Of course we belief ya” with the ebullience of a wet sock. In the next breath, Dorothy dedicates up believing her nightmare was real, cheerfully exclaiming, “But anyway, Toto, we’re home! ” She then announces, “I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again! “
The book, on the other hand, ends with Dorothy landing back home, hugging her aunt, and saying, “I’m so glad to be at home again! ” The movie ends with Dorothy professing her undying enjoy for her home like her house is a new divinity that needs her exclaimings of allegiance. Therein lies the rest of the dark, unintentional message the movie delivered to audiences of all ages around the world.
Take a step back and think about “whos” theaters at the time the movie came out, the ones watching Dorothy accept that her death-defying cavort through Oz was nothing but the side effect of a concussion, and then decide that being at home is all that matters. It may have been 1939, but I’m guessing the seats were filled with the same various kinds of people who go to household movies today: mommies and kids. But these weren’t merely any mommas. In a few short times, those mamas would be asked to do something that no generation of women had ever did before: Get out of the house and start working for the good of the country.
By 1944, there used to be over 19 million wives in American factories, shipyards, and offices, presumably riveting everything they could get their dainty hands on. But when their spouses and boyfriends and brethren came back from World War II, the ladies were sent home so the vets could have jobs. In other terms, they got Dorothyed. After reading how to build cool material and manage the home front while the men were away, wives got the message that their adventure was over and home was where they belonged. And one of the first people to give them the message was Dorothy herself.
Here’s Dorothy, the protagonist in one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters ever( and America wasn’t precisely exploding with fictional female role models at the time ), and some nameless executive not only became her whole hero’s expedition into a make-believe story in her chief, but they also landed her exactly where she started, with no lessons learned other than “STAY HOME FOREVER.”
If you loved this article and crave more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Or sign on for our Subscription Service for exclusive content, an ad-free experience, and more . i > b>