The day before yesterday I went to see “The Wizard of Oz” at the movie theater. I’ve loved this film since childhood as I found it so visually appealing and I totally identified with Dorothy. Like her, I felt very misunderstood and ignored, had a desire to find a happier place that was more accepting of me, and had a dog that was my best friend. Years later I found enjoyment in the dialogue of the film, such as Glenda’s witty banter and the Lion’s humor. In more recent years, I found this movie to be filled with metaphors of the human condition and our search for self.
So I went to see this film, armed with a notebook and ended up with 7 pages of notes filled with images, symbols, and circumstances that I resonated with. I won’t go into all of them, but here are a few of the more prominent items I came up with.
- Witch of the West – When Dorothy land in Oz, she is amazed and greeted with open arms. There is a sense of joy and happiness. Then The Wicked Witch of the West arrives and the mood is changed. This immediately struck me as I found the Witch of the West to represent the Ego. Ego always kills joy, and anytime I find myself even beginning to become hopeful, my Ego always steps in trying to reclaim its power over me. Once I identified the Witch of the West with the Ego, I noticed the pattern of her character always killing every hopeful or happy moment Dorothy had in the film. She even mocks Dorothy when she’s crying as she’s help captive by the Witch of the West.
- Ruby Slippers – The slippers are a symbol for the authentic self. The Witch of the West wants to take these away from Dorothy, because she knows that she will lose her power of Dorothy if she ever realized the power within them. After the whole adventure is over, it is brought to Dorothy’s attention that she always had the power to go home and just needed to use the slippers to take her back.
- Toto – Although he is small, he is a pivotal part of the film. For me Toto represents the inner child. Throughout the film he is constantly having to cause a commotion in order to get attention. Toto is mischievous, knows good from bad, is the reason why Dorothy runs away in the first place, escapes the castle and goes for help, reveals the “man behind the curtain”, and causes Dorothy to miss the balloon back to Kansas therefore putting her in the situation to realize that she always had the power to go home.
- The Wizard – Every incarnation that this actor had in this film (the fortune-teller, doorman to the Emerald City Wizard of Oz) reminded me of our inner voice/critic. He’s always the one to say, “you can’t do this, can’t do that, come back in two days, etc” He even tells all of Dorothy’s friends that they already have what they are looking for, but tells Dorothy that she needs to go home through his help.
- Dorothy’s friends – These three are probably the most obvious symbols of our self-doubt, feelings of emptiness, and fear. I wish mine could sing and dance as well as Dorothy’s did.
Of course there’s also the symbols of the Emerald City, the yellow Brick Road, the Tornado, etc. When I was attending Pacifica, I considered writing my dissertation on The Wizard of Oz and it’s parallels to the psyche and spirit. For now, this little blog will have to do.