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Wizard of Oz Essay

            Frank Baum's, "The Wizard of Oz,"" has often been referred to as the first American fairytale. Despite being written in the 1890's, the book had continued success into the turn of the century due to the ethical and moral needs of Americans that were fulfilled by the fable. Many Americans at the time were startled by the new industrialization and urbanization that was rapidly occurring, fearful that traditional Victorian society would be eradicated. Baum, on the other hand, was a proponent of this new consumer society, evident by the extremely positive stance that he takes on technology. Similar to "Little Red Riding Hood,"" the novel contains a journey by an isolated heroin, Dorothy, who is accompanied by magical helpers "the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man "through an enchanted forest, where they encounter many obstacles that must be overcome to complete their objective. Baum, combining all these elements of a classic fairytale, refrains from writing about fairies and imaginary things; he focuses his attention on real world entities that the reader can relate to, which helps to provide a soothing feeling to a new, urban society. .
             "The Wizard of Oz,"" takes a positive approach toward the change from Agrarian to urban life that was taking place; Baum seems to be telling the country, "It's all good."" This stance fits in with the positive thinking movement that was prevalent at the time; many felt that thinking constructively would yield favorable results, and vice versa. In the novel, the Scarecrow acquires knowledge by "thinking- he has a brain, the Lion gains courage by "thinking- he has it, and the Tin Man grows a heart in the same fashion. Contrary to conservative ideas at the beginning of the twentieth century, Baum's concentration on the rewards of a new consumer society serves as a guilt reducer for readers at the time. The story helped relieve Americans of their sense of absence that a shortened work day and increased leisure time had helped to produce.

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