The Eye of the Populist

A Parable or not?

There has been much speculation between whether or not the children's story the Wizard of Oz was a parable with the 1900's populist movement. I believe that this parable might indeed have been intended by the author Baum maybe not consciously but the connection was still there. For example the main characters the Lion, Scarecrow, Tin man and Dorothy all represented significant populist figures. For example all these characters sought things that the real life populist thought the lion sought courage the same way William Jennings Bryan sought it to unite populism with the Democratic ideals and he was also know to have a big roar like the lion but no real bite or power. The Scarecrow sought a brain the same way that farmers were thought to be non-intelligent and they ended up coming up with many ideas to solve their problems. The Tin man sought a heart and this was a parable with the industrial workers because they felt dehumanized by the company owners and when jobs fell in the depressions they felt helpless. Also all Dorothy wanted was to return home and represented american ideals and proved loyal resourceful and determined like many americans  during hard economic times.

1)  “Paradise” by Coldplay (Populist Party Platform): The song paradise relates to the Populist Party because up until the beginning of the populist movement the farmers and the industrial workers believed that they had not received what they deserved. They believed that the rich owners were getting all of the wealth and happiness so they looked towards this new party as a way for them to get more equalities that would benefit them at least a small way. The farmers and workers looked towards populism as a small glimpse of hope towards the far away “paradise”. This relates to the wizard of Oz because in this children’s story the scarecrow, lion and tin man looked towards reaching the great Emerald city “paradise” as a way for them to get what they were after. The tin man looked for a heart because he didn't have one and the Populist Party was backed by the industry workers and laborers who were tired of having to be treated like machines in the factories.  The scarecrow went to the emerald city for a brain because just as the farmers the big corporations and the railroad industry left them out from economic gains because they kept putting the farmer down with things such as tariffs. Also the lion represented an aspect of this party because he was looking to gain courage to be a good leader and this represented William Jennings Bryan because he was the courageous determined leader of the populists. These aspects were the platform on which populism stood on and its goals it tried to achieve for a better place “paradise” the same way the characters from the wizard of Oz looked at the Emerald “paradise” city as the answer to their problems just like people and such as in Coxey’s army marched to Washington D.C to try to solve their problems.

1)  “Eye of the Lion” by Survivor

William Jennings Bryan: The song Eye of the tiger or in this case lion relates to William Jennings Bryan because it shows Bryans determination and courage. William Jennings Bryan was the major leader and representative of the populist wing in the political aspect under the Democratic Party. He was persistent in trying to get populism ahead and was the candidate for president three times (1896, 1900 and 1908). In The Wizard of Oz Bryan was portrayed as the Lion looking for courage even though neither Bryan nor the Lion needed it because they both possessed it. It is also a parallel because towards the end of the movie Oz gives the lion a medal for “extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against wicked witches”. This is a parallel because just like the Lion Bryan showed valor by trying to represent the populist and by his persistence of trying to become president and standing up against the business that had pressured previous presidents. It was also a parallel because William Jennings Bryan proved to have a great “roar” with his motivating speeches but he didn’t have the “bite” or the power to achieve what he wanted just as how the lion had a strong roar but no bite.

The reason we chose the song eye of the the tiger was because some of the lyrics relate a lot to William Jennings Bryan and populism. For example "Risin' up, back on the street Did my time, took my chances,Went the distance, Now I'm back on my feet" This part of the song represented how William Jennings kept trying to persevere in becoming president and ran four times even though he kept losing. Also in the part where it says "So many times, it happens too fast, You trade your passion for glory" can be a parallel of how presidents such as Grover Cleveland wanted glory and turned their back on the people and help the big corporations and this shows the corruption in the populist era. Another parallel can be "Still we take to the street" which was a parallel of how people began to protesting.

Extra parallels

  • Uncle Henry: Henry Cantwell Wallace was a well known farmer and editor for a leading farm magazine in the late 1800's. He was called Uncle Henry by most everyone.
  • Munchkins: The little people, the munchkins, are said to represent the common people or ordinary U.S. citizens. The Lollipop Guild is seen as representing child labor.
  • Oz: an abbreviation that stands for gold, a hot political topic of the day where people were rallying for fixed gold and silver ratios.
  • Wicked Witch of the West and East: The Wicked Witch of the East represents eastern business and the Wicked Witch of the West represents the politician William McKinley who defeated Williams Jennings Bryant during the time of the free silver silver movement.
  • Emerald Palace and Emerald City: the Emerald Palace is believed to represent the White House and the Emerald City to represent Washington D.C.
  • Wizard: it is thought that the Wizard of Oz represents Mark Hanna, who was the Republican party’s chairman, or perhaps president of the United States. In the book, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Dorothy all saw the Wizard quite differently. This symbolizes the cynicism that exists in politics due to the fact that politicians tend to change face with different people
  • Good Witch of the South and North. The Good Witch of the North represents northern workers, and the Good Witch of the South represents southern farmers. This provides a contrast between wicked industrialists from the west with the railroad moguls in the west.
  • Sited from: Symbolism of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ Wicked tour

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