12 May 2011

Communism in Oz

The story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is a universal tale that can be viewed in many different lights. One of the most common ways to view the story is as an allegory for political parties. Baum himself never acknowledged that his story was based on anything besides his active imagination and his desire to create a modern fairytale, but critics throughout history have made countless connections to his story. When I read the book the first connection that I saw between the story and the real world was the idea of communism. This idea may have been emphasized by the 1939 movie as well because Ithink the movie definitely takes the communist connections within the book and emphasizes them.

Although during the time the book was written communism was not a prevalent issue, as communism grew in popularity during the 20th century people started to make connections between The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and communist views. The idea of the common people banding together and taking the place of the authority figures scared some American audiences. During the Cold War America thought that communism (i.e. the Soviet Union) was the enemy and their biggest fear was communism spreading to the U.S. Anything that even slightly resembled communist propaganda was banned in the U.S. However, in 1939 the book was made into a movie by director Victor Fleming and was hugely successful. I find this interesting because there is blatant communist propaganda throughout the film. From the shape of the yellow-brick-road to the portrayal of the Wizard of Oz, many elements of the movie reflect communist views.

In both the movie and the book, Dorothy and her companions are common working class citizens that, by the end of the story, replace the previous establishment.The traits of courage, heart, and intelligence were portrayed as the core values of a good working-class citizen at a time when so many people were living in fear of good working class citizens who simply had a different view of what society should look like.Americans banned the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for many years because they did not want their youth to be “corrupted” by communism. However, one wonders why the movie was so popular while at the same time the book was being condemned. The movie was made at the start of World War II, when different media outlets were first being used as a means to convey propaganda to the public. At the time, America did not see the communism within the movie, but when you really think about the message that the movie is sending you cannot help but see at least one aspect of communist theory.

Works Cited

Baum, L. Frank, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. New York: Dover, 1960.


  1. While I do agree that there are some factors of the story that could be viewed as communist-like, I think to say that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is communist propaganda is not accurate. You used the example of the working class coming to power as evidence of communist ideals; however, in reality, there is not a revolution by the people, and even though a few beings that might represent the working class come to power, they rule as monarchs. Thus, I do not believe that The Wizard of Oz is harboring any communist propaganda.

  2. Very interesting observations of the movie in contrast to the book. Is it possible that the main reason for the difference in communist references in the book and movie are due to their different times of creation? The topic of political association and the Wizard of Oz is very interesting and intricate. However, I think that although the book can fit into certain points views, Baum did have a goal in creating the book and that was to create a "modern fairy tale". On the other hand, the communist undertone of the people overthrowing the established government is apparent as a communist idea.

  3. As I said in my post, I do not think that Baum wrote the book with the intention of making it communist propaganda. But because of the way society saw the book as the political climate of the real world changed many people made connections between the book and communist theory. The story of the Wizard of Oz is universal and could be connected to a lot of other concepts and theories, but to me the connections with communism were the most apparent.