As one of the most referenced stories of all time, it is not uncommon to discover you are in the Land of Oz. You may long to go “over the rainbow,” find that you are “not in Kansas anymore,” direct someone to “follow the yellow brick road,” take a day trip with “the munchkins,” or be watching out for “Lions and Tigers and Bears! — Oh MY!”
Never having done so, I decided to read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I had been told it is mildly different from the film(s), and that is true. Somewhere in the middle, I started to find symbolism relevant to certain philosophies. I did a search, and it turns out there are as many different parallels for the Wizard of Oz as there are readers. This is mine.
The Yellow Brick Road: This is my journey through mid-life. I’ve come from the gray prairie of Kansas, where nothing changes, day in or day out. I was tossed from a sudden storm into a land where I recognize nothing, including the image in the mirror. Dorothy “knew very well she was only an ordinary little girl who had come by the chance of a cyclone into a strange land.”
Dorothy: I play the lead role in my own analogy. Dorothy is looking for a home; comfort, shelter, rest, family, refuge. She learns early in the story that she has taken for granted the comfort of tedium. Dorothy explains to the Scarecrow, “No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”
Toto: “It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings.” Toto is my ego; my spirit and psyche. He is my intuition that acts without thinking. He may bark and even bite, but we are inseparable. “Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz so long as Dorothy was with him.” At one point Dorothy and her companions find they are lost. “Toto found that for the first time in his life he was too tired to chase a butterfly that flew past his head. So he put out his tongue and panted and looked at Dorothy as if to ask what they should do next.”
Scarecrow: My three chums are my alter egos. Each searching for something different. My scarecrow searches for a brain; wisdom.
Tin Woodman: The second companion is found stiff from rust. He searches for a heart; passion, tenderness, empathy, humanity.
Cowardly Lion: Lastly, the Lion joins the other three, seeking courage. The Scarecrow asks the Lion, “Have you brains?” The Lion answers “I suppose so. I’ve never looked to see.”
The Tin Woodman challenges the Scarecrow on his longing for a brain. “But once I had brains and a heart also; so, having tried both, I should much rather have a heart.” After some time, the two fellows get into it.
“All the same,” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”
“I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”
As readers, we know that courage, brains, and heart are most effective when used together, so the three are devoted friends.
Obstacles: Every excursion has its obstacles. Dorothy’s is wrought with dark enchanted forests, and deadly fields of poppies. Doubts and anxiety loom about like a Wicked Witch, cackling at me and humiliating me. Using the brains, heart and courage I didn’t know I had, I ease myself through. Friends support me like Glinda the Good Witch, working magic to bolster my confidence and making me feel safe.
The Emerald City: I’ve already been to the Emerald City and it’s not all it was cracked up to be. It is not really made of Emerald. I have seen the man behind the curtain. I now know the wisdom, passion, and courage that I need to find peace already exist inside of me, or at least as much as they ever will. However, this is not the end of my journey. To find my way home, it seems I still need to kill the wicked doubt and anxiety that have tormented me all along the way.
Am I to find that once I accomplish this seemingly impossible act, it will be as simple as clicking my heels together? Perhaps . . . Perhaps.
Read more about philosophies of The Wizard of Oz
Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Desperately . . No . . Persistently Seeking . . .
A Certain Age
On Goal Setting