Earlier this week in class, we discussed the possibility of Oz as a sort of utopian society. But is it just a ruse? Of course there is evidence that it is indeed a utopia: the “Wizard” of Oz is thought to be a wise and all-powerful leader that the people love and respect; the city is majestic with its bright, blinding color; it is an island unto itself, as it is separated from all the other parts of the land in its uniqueness. And yet there is evidence that it could be false, that the people are just looking at their world through emerald-colored glasses (quite literally). The people may be happy, but the wizard is not a wizard and lies to the people about his true identity. He is the leader/king, but as a general rule never holds audience with anyone who has an issue: “‘Oh, he will see you,” said the soldier…‘although he does not like to have people ask to see him…” [Baum 56]. He calls himself the “Great and Terrible”, which is quite contradictory in that he wishes to be both revered and feared—quite effective in squelching any opposition. Thus, it begins to sound more like a dictatorship than an actual utopia.
The Wizard looks after the people, but makes no effort to socialize with them (“‘Have you seen Oz?’/ ‘Oh, no,’ returned the soldier; ‘I have never seen him. But I spoke to him as he sat behind his screen and gave him your message’”) [Baum 54]. The gates are locked and guarded, though the city seems friendly. Is it a utopia then or just a prison of supposed happiness? This then begs the question of what it being kept out—or in. Is it for the Wicked Witches of the East (and the late West)? Though the Wizard may seem a friendly dictator, if such a thing is possible, he does not seem to have any qualms asking a little girl to kill a witch in order to grant her wish to go home. Surely a clever man such as himself, even if he didn’t have magic, could find a way to kill the witch if there were any major danger to the city. In this sense he acts more cowardly than the Cowardly Lion. Therefore, it is my belief that though Oz has some utopian-like qualities, there is something amiss behind the curtain.
Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. N.p.: Duke Classics, 2012. EPUB.