Monday, 17 September 2012

Research - Theme of fictional utopias - Oz



 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the well-known 1939 film version, starring Judy Garland. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a storm. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum's writing thirteen more Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956.
Baum dedicated the book "to my good friend & comrade, My Wife", Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, George M. Hill Company, the publisher, completed printing the first edition, which probably totaled around 35,000 copies. Records indicate that 21,000 copies were sold through 1900. Historians, economists and literary scholars have examined and developed possible political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; however, the majority of the reading public simply takes the story at face value.
Born on May 15, 1856, in a frame house in Chittenango, New York, Lyman Frank Baum was the seventh child of Cynthia Stanton and Benjamin Ward Baum, an affluent oil baron. Raised in Rose Lawn, the Baum country property on the outskirts of Syracuse, Baum had a sheltered upbringing. As a child, he was extremely bashful and was diagnosed with a deficient heart. Baum spent considerable time playing with his imaginary friends and reading books. When he was 15 years old, he and Harry, a younger brother produced The Rose Lawn Home Journal.When he was 18 years old, Baum spent much time around local theaters and hoped to pursue acting. Though his father initially opposed his dream he later capitulated. Baum traveled through different states and worked at various jobs to support his acting career.
In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, daughter of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. His mother-in-law believed that Baum was idealistic and wrote in a letter that he was "a perfect baby". However, she urged him to put to paper the many tales he had related to his sons for many years. Maud Gage, a practical woman, served as a foil to Baum. She was consistent and wary of their finances, complementing her husband, an imaginative dreamer.


Sources of images and ideas
Baum acknowledged the influence of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, which he was deliberately revising in his "American fairy tales" to include the wonder without the horrors.
Local legend has it that Oz, also known as The Emerald City, was inspired by a prominent castle-like building in the community of Castle Park near Holland, Michigan where Baum summered. The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks. These bricks were found in Peekskill, New York where Baum attended the Peekskill Military Academy. Baum scholars often reference the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the "White City") as an inspiration for the Emerald City. Other legends allude that the inspiration came from the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego, California. Baum was a frequent guest at the hotel, and had written several of the Oz books there. In a 1903 interview with Publishers Weekly,[3] Baum said that the name "OZ" came from his file cabinet labeled "O-Z".


Personal life
Many of the characters, props, and ideas in the novel were drawn from Baum's experiences. As a child, Baum frequently had nightmares of a scarecrow pursuing him across a field. Moments before the scarecrow's "ragged hay fingers" nearly gripped his neck, it would fall apart before his eyes. Decades later as an adult, Baum integrated his tormentor into the novel as the Scarecrow. According to his son Harry, the Tin Woodman was born from Baum's attraction to window displays. Because he wished to make something captivating for the window displays, he used an eclectic assortment of scraps to craft a striking figure. From a washboiler he made a body, from bolted stovepipes he made arms and legs, and from the bottom of a saucepan he made a face. Baum then placed a funnel hat on the figure, which ultimately became the Tin Woodman. John D. Rockefeller was the nemesis of Baum's father, an oil baron who declined to purchase Standard Oil shares in exchange for selling his own oil refinery. Baum scholar Evan I. Schwartz posited that Rockefeller inspired one of the Wizard of Oz's numerous faces. In one scene in the novel, the Wizard is seen as a "tyrannical, hairless head". When Rockefeller was 54 years old, the medical condition alopecia caused him to lose every strand of hair on his head, making people fearful of speaking to him.
In the early 1880s, when Baum's play Matches was being performed, a "flicker from a kerosene lantern sparked the rafters", causing the Baum opera house to be consumed by flames. Scholar Evan I. Schwartz posited that this may have inspired the Scarecrow's severest terror: "There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of. A lighted match.

In 1890, while Baum lived in Aberdeen which was experiencing a drought, he wrote a witty story in his "Our Landlady" column in Aberdeen's The Saturday Pioneer, The story was about a farmer who gave green goggles to his horses, causing them to believe that the wood chips they were eating were pieces of grass. Similarly, the Wizard made the people in the Emerald City wear green goggles so that they would believe their city was built from emeralds Baum, a former salesman of china, wrote in chapter 20 about china that had sprung to life.
During Baum's short stay in Aberdeen, the dissemination of myths about the plentiful West continued. However, the West, instead of being a wonderland, turned into a wasteland because of a drought and a depression. In 1891, Baum moved his family from South Dakota to Chicago. At that time, Chicago was getting ready for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Scholar Laura Barrett stated that Chicago was "considerably more akin to Oz than to Kansas". After discovering that the myths about the West's incalculable riches were baseless, Baum created "an extension of the American frontier in Oz". In many respects, Baum's creation is similar to the actual frontier save for the fact that the West was still undeveloped at the time. The Munchkins Dorothy encounters at the beginning of the novel represent farmers, as do the Winkies she later meets.
 
Baum's wife frequently visited her niece, Dorothy Louise Gage. The infant became gravely sick and died on November 11, 1898, of "congestion of the brain" at exactly five months. When the baby, whom Maud adored as the daughter she never had, died, she was devastated and needed to consume medicine. To assuage her distress, Frank made his protagonist of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a female named Dorothy. Uncle Henry was modeled after Henry Gage, his wife Maud's father. Bossed around by his wife Matilda, Henry rarely dissented with her. He flourished in business, though, and his neighbors looked up to him. Likewise, Uncle Henry was a "passive but hard-working man" who "looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke" The witches in the novel were influenced by witch-hunting research gathered by
Baum's mother-in-law, Matilda. The stories of barbarous acts against accused witches scared Baum. Two key events in the novel involve wicked witches who both meet their death through metaphorical means.

Examples of Oz inspired art




I looked into the Oz books because of this idea of being taken from reality into another world theme. A type of world in this sense that L.Frank Baum created based on feelings of appreciating what you have and over coming your problems. The entry of getting into Oz is that of a twister which is a strong representation of a busy journey or another step for a indivisual such as emotions and experiecnes.

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