Book Title: Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Are you interested in books filled with evil witches, mysterious wizards, or even magical creatures? If you are, then I highly recommend this book to you.
This book I am going to introduce is one of my literary favorites. Its spectacular plot and timeless characters have kept me enthralled, appealing to me for so many years. I’m sure some you might have heard of it since it is one of the most groundbreaking books in American literature. It is called ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ or ‘Wizard of Oz’ for short. It was written by L. Frank Baum, an American author of children’s books, and was originally published in 1900, a little bit more than a hundred years ago!
‘Wizard of Oz’ chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the enchanted Land of Oz. Dorothy is an orphan raised by her Uncle Frank and Aunt Em in the bleak landscape of Kansas farm. She has a little black dog Toto, who is her sole source of happiness in the gray, lonely prairie. One day, the farmhouse, with Dorothy and Toto inside, is caught up by a tornado and falls in a field in Munchkin Country, the eastern quadrant of the Land of Oz.
The falling house lands on the evil ruler of the Munchkins, the Wicked Witch of the East, evidently killing her. After that, The Good Witch of the North comes with the Munchkins to greet and thank Dorothy for ending the rule of the evil witch.The good witch then gives Dorothy the SilverShoes (believed to have magical properties) that the Wicked Witch had been wearing when she was killed and tells Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz to help her return to Kansas. On her way to the city, she meets the Scarecrow,the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. She encourages them to journey with her and Toto to Emerald City and convinces them that the Wizard can also help them get what they want: The Scarecrow wants a brain; the Tin Woodman wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion wants courage. Together, they then overcome various deadly obstacles on the way and arrive at Emerald City in the end.
After reading the title of this book, you might think that the book is about an extraordinary and powerful wizard, but in fact, the main character is actually just a meek and boring girl from a rustic Kansas farm, Dorothy. In my opinion, she is most definitely not your run-of-the-mill damsel in distress. As a matter of fact, I think Dorothy is a very courageous and strong-willed girl due to the fact that in the book, she faces numerous horrifying sights that ordinary children of her age will never have to see in their lives without freaking out. For instance, Dorothy never shows any signs of fear when she encounters the Wicked Witch of the West at the climax of the book, instead she single-handedly defeats her calmly by throwing a pale of cold water on the evil witch, eventually melting her. That is why I think she is a perfect role model for shy and timid children who depend too much on their parents nowadays.
On the other hand, I think the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion all lack self-confidence. In the book, they actually embody the classical human virtues of intelligence, caring, and courage respectively, but their own self-doubts keep them from finding their true potential. The Scarecrow believes that he has no brains though he comes up with clever solutions to several problems their journey; the Tin Woodman believes that he lacks a heart, but is moved to tears when unfortunate events befalls on anyone of them; the Cowardly Lion believes that he has no courage even though he is consistently brave on their journey. At the end of the novel, to convince the characters they have the qualities they desire, the Wizard places an amalgamation of bran, pins and needles in the Scarecrow’s head to inspire intellect; gives a silk heart to the Tin Woodman to inspire love; and a potion to the Cowardly Lion to inspire bravery.
One of my most favorite parts of the book is when Dorothy and her friends find out the ‘Wizard of Oz’ is a fraud. It is revealed that the Wizard does not have any magical powers at all and is just an ordinary old man who has journeyed to the Land of Oz from Omaha long ago in a hot air balloon. Everyone in Emerald City then thinks he is a powerful wizard since they know only wizards or witches are able to fly. I found this segment of this book particularly entertaining because it provides the book with a wonderful twist. At first, I assumed that the Wizard of Oz would just use great magic to transport Dorothy and Toto back to Kansas. But instead, Baum brilliantly created the fact that the Silver Shoes that Dorothy has been wearing all along can take her anywhere she wishes to go, hence, allowing her and Toto to return to Kansas finally.
There are many features that make ‘Wizard of Oz’ the phenomenal success it is today. First of all, Baum managed to make this book both extravagant and easy to read at the same time, appealing strongly to children of all ages. The accompanied illustration also provided a pleasant compliment to the text, bringing the story characters to life and imprinting vivid impressions to children’s minds. Secondly, the mere fact that Baum managed to borrow the conventional features of a fairy tale (witches and wizards) and combine them with the well-known things in his readers’ lives at that time (scarecrows and cornfields) is highly laudable. This not only allowed the book to be highly readable for young children, but it also gave children the opportunity to discover magic in the mundane things in their everyday lives. It would indeed be strange if a normal child will not enjoy the story.
In general, I think ‘Wizard of Oz’ was an exceptionally well-written literary masterpiece. Its sensational story and meaningful message has warmed me to the bone, greatly distancing itself from the average book of today, and for that, I thank L. Frank Baum for taking me to this bright and joyous adventure.