The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Themes

  • Frank L. Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a fantastical children's story about good and evil. It pits the sweet, innocent Dorothy Gale against the Wicked Witch of the West, who kidnaps her and tries to steal her silver slippers. The Wizard of Oz falls somewhere between this dichotomy, revealing himself to be a bad wizard, if not exactly a bad person. Baum suggests that everyone has both good and bad in them.
  • Home is one of the central themes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is displaced by the tornado, taken from her home of Kansas and dropped into a fantastical world where she's lost and in peril. Though Dorothy finds friends in Oz, home still represents safety, comfort, and familiarity, and in the end she decides to go home to Kansas.
  • Friendship is another important theme in the novel. Dorothy finds friends in the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, who, like Dorothy, don't realize that they already have what they're looking for and don't need the Wizard. Together, the friends defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and complete their journey to Oz, becoming better people in the process.

Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Although Baum intended his story as an entertainment for children, it also contains a good deal of social satire offered with a gently mocking sense of humor. The gap between appearance and reality is a persistent theme in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and in many of Baum’s other books. The centerpiece of the book is the journey to the Emerald City, home of the great Wizard who can grant all wishes. Once the main characters reach the city, though, they find that it is all an illusion and that the Wizard himself is a fraud. They themselves are capable of all the real magic.

The strange landscape and the absurd events and creatures are primarily intended for entertainment, but they also convey a sense of the wondrous and magical parts of life. Readers can see the book, then, as a good-natured rebellion of imagination against the tyranny of calculating rationality. The similarities that some may see between this book and intellectual movements such as surrealism owe much to this rebellion.


(Novels for Students)

The predominant theme of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is self-sufficiency. The Scarecrow, Tin...

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