The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been known since its publication as a children’s book, but is that really appropriate in today’s society? While children are inundated with violence and death every day through video games and TV shows, when it comes to books, adults remain a little puritanical. Where are the banned video game lists or the banned movies? And yet the list of banned books grows larger every day, so how does something like The Wizard of Oz stay off it? Pure sentimentalism?
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a little girl is ripped from her home in a tornado and her house falls on top of a witch, effectively killing her. In the very introduction of the novel we have a murder. Later on in the book, Oz refuses to give anyone what they want unless they conspire together to commit another act of murder. And then, of course, we have the herds of angry wolves, a murder of crows, and a swarm of bees whose sole mission is to attempt to murder Dorothy and her band of friends. The book is riddled with stories of slavery and murder.
With all this torture and attempted murder, can this really be a book for children? The violence, when looked at objectively, is enough to turn more than a few heads. Dorothy remains the unsuspecting, innocent, simple child, but by the end of the novel she has killed two people.
All the same, can this simple story really be called something for adults or even teens to read? Dorothy’s simple logic and childish actions make it so this book couldn’t possibly be something targeted for older readers. At her most wicked, Dorothy simply throws a bucket of water on the witch, having no idea that it would be the thing to kill her. The language and the setup of the story are also very childlike– leaning more towards a fairy tale than an novel.
The only thing left to wonder is if maybe the times have just changed. If it were not for the movie and the sentimentalism behind The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, would it still be a book we give our children to read? What age group is it really appropriate for?