The Wonderful Wizard of Ounce

Today, gold is considered as the most precious metal in the world. Indeed, most people perceive gold as an element of financial and individual freedom. This is simply because gold is equated with money as it is one of the most expensive commodities in the world. Therefore, when one is in possession of gold, he is not only rich but is able to buy personal freedom. Surprisingly, in his book The wonderful Wizard of Ounce, Frank Baum depicts gold as an instrument of oppression. This paper analyses the political satire that is evident in the story using various topics. Moreover, the paper critically analyses the parallels that can be deduced from the Dorothy’s yellow stick and Odyssey in comparison with the politics of 1890’s populism. In addition, various monetary reforms that portray political satire of the time form the fundamental basis of the analysis.

Ounce is Depicted as an Allegory

Baum uses an allegory to show the populism and vibrancy of America in the dawn of the new century. He addresses issues related to politics and events that took place in the late 1880s as well as in early 1890s. This period was marked by formation of Populist Party in the United States. He, however, provides a basis upon which he criticizes the Populist movement. Thus, political satire is evident as it is brought out in form of an allegory in relation to the characters in the play. This is especially observed where the lampoon’s feminism is associated with the suffragette movements. In this case, the story of Oz has a clear connection with the politics of 1890s. He argues that “the politics were far too consistent to be coincidental” (Baum, 1991:22). By the late 1980s, there was a wide spread in currency usage in form of gold and silver especially in academic and political circles (Dighe, 2002:89). Notably, populists and other proponents of the Free Silver Movement highly advocated for development of unlimited coinage of the white metal. This was aimed at inflation of the money supply. As a result, they would be able to exploit farmers and small businessmen forcing them to borrow money in order to pay their debts.

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Dorothy of Kansas

Dorothy being the protagonist in the play is used to show political satire on monetary populism in the late 1800s. During this period, populism was spreading in the Midwest and the South. Kansas was the center where most of these activities took place. From here, the concept of populism spread to other parts of the world such as the United States. For instance, Populist governor was elected in the State Assembly in the Senate. In the story, we come across the Twister who carried Dorothy. He is a symbolic representation of the populism. The wind of populism spread across various nations during this period (Baum, 1991: 15). The Free Silver Movement in the world is represented as a satire by the writer. The writer states: “as Dorothy embarks on the yellow brick road, Toto trots behind her, just as the prohibitionists soberly followed the populists”. This signifies the Populist political satire of the 1890s as well as its radical movement.

Baum and His Witch Projects

Dorothy is flown in her house by a Tornado and come to land in Oz. The witch of the East, who is described to be wicked, is killed instantly by the house. Satirically, the witch is a representation of the financial industrial interests of the populists. Moreover, it symbolically signifies the political allies whose main target was gold. These were especially the populists. Populists were highly influential such that they saw presidents as helpless individuals who did not recognize the essence of gold and silver during this era.


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