Monday, 16 February 2015

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

A timeless classic. I went into this thinking that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz would be something that is deranged and unintelligible. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. It turned out to be an excellent children book, simply written, with a lot mishap and excitement to keep the story going. I think I would've enjoyed this book more if I had read it when I was a child.

Throughout the reading, I was struck by how the characters—Tin Woodman, Lion, and Scarecrow—had low self-esteem. Each wanted something that, in my opinion, they already had. Tin Woodman wanted a heart, and yet he appeared to be the most kind-hearted and sensitive of the four. For someone who was heartless, the Tin Woodman constantly burst into tears if sorrow and regret. Scarecrow wanted a brain when he was the brainiest of the gang and always came up with plans that helped them to overcome their obstacles. On the other hand, the Lion who called himself a coward kept putting his life in the front line to protect his friends from the coming perils.  This was extremely contradictory. I kept hoping they would realize this and accept themselves for who they are but the illusion of having courage/heart/brain were too instill in them that they didn’t believe they would be happy without it.

I also liked the incorporation of puns in the text. They got me chuckled a few times. For example, when Oz removed the Scarecrow’s head and filled it with a measure of bran, he then announced that the Scarecrow will be a great man, for he (Oz) had given the Scarecrow a lot of bran-new brains. The Lion’s “That proof that he is sharp.” further alluded to the pins and needles needed to support the Scarecrow new bran-filled head.

One thing I didn't like, or uncomfortable with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was that it was littered with violence and horrific deaths. The Tin Woodman cut down the wolves’ heads (forty wolves, if I’m not mistaken) in one night, and not feeling a bit of remorse. While the wolves did come to cause them harm, for someone who was as sensitive as the Woodman, I’d expected a less display of savagery. He also cut down trees with no regards whatsoever to them. I was frankly shocked by this. The Tin Woodman’s origin was also grotesque. Cutting down each part of his body one after another and replaced them with tin, that must be extremely painful.

I don’t have much to say about Dorothy. She seemed rather flat character, with a singular goal on her mind. However, she was also the only one who was happy with her lot and recognized her friends’ worth despite their low self-value. Oz definitely was the most interesting character in the story even though he only appeared sporadically in the book. He seemed like an ingenious man who made the best of his situation. He tried his best to help people too regardless of his limitation. So, I, like Dorothy, had learned quite a few lessons from this tale. 

*All original illustrations by William Wallace Denslow.

What is your favourite children classics?


  1. A fine review Lily, I enjoyed your insight.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Joseph!