Monday, October 24, 2005

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Kyler Robinson

Perhaps the most famous section of The Republic of Plato, The Allegory of the Cave has the universal theme of drawing out knowledge that can be seen in many current movies and literature. Coming out of the darkness into knowledge of the “real world” is something that perhaps everyone wants to achieve, from ignorance to knowledge. The famous story The Wizard of Oz encompasses this idea as the various characters are searching for things that they don’t fully understand and ultimately come to understanding.
Dorothy is the first character who finds herself pushed into the shadows by the munchkins. Trying to return to Kansas she is told that the only way is to return is to follow the yellow brick road to the wizard of Oz. The munchkins, like the people in the shadows, talk about their perceived dances of what is real and talk about it as reality. Although ultimately she has the power to return with just the ruby slippers, it is the clouded concepts of reality that persuade Dorothy to go to the wizard.
In a similar fashion the scarecrow is searching for a brain because he is told that he does not have one. While this example could be misconstrue as similar to the allegory in that he wants knowledge, it is instead that he has a brain but the shadow reality in the Oz society that makes him believe otherwise. The tin man and lion also go through similar transformations where they believe that they are lacking important components only because their shadowed reality makes them believe in that manner. The shadow is continued to be spread even by Dorothy where she tells the fallacy that the wizard of Oz can solve any problem.
But we see that these are all untrue with the unveiling of the man behind the curtain. As Toto pulls down the curtain, all of these fallacies are shattered and each of the characters are brought out of the shadows into the bright light of the fire. Like the person who felt pain from withdrawal from the shadows, each panic slightly and are lost with nothing to follow.
While the wizard of Oz turns out to be a counterfeit, he never the less saves the day, pointing out the shadows that they followed and bringing them out into the light. He points out that the scarecrow must indeed have a brain. The tin man must also have a heart as he cares for his newfound companions and the lion demonstrated courage against the wicked witch of the west. Each character has the traits that he was missing in the misguided reality of the shadows cast from the fire and they see that the light and truth only when the come directly to the fire.
While the wizard of Oz is the one who uncovers these fallacies it is also crucial to note that he is indeed a part of the problem, the puppet master who casts the shadows. Though in reality he is a little, old man, he makes himself into something much larger through the use of the wizard, who makes a false reality for the people to fall into. When his bluff is uncovered we see his puppetting skills also come with knowledge attached to it.
The Republic of Plato is related to so many things in society both past and present. Just as remarkably its influence reaches from policy making decisions to pop culture. While each of the characters come out of the shadows in The Wizard of Oz a powerful statement is made with the smartest character creating the shadows for society to follow. This all knowing figure would likely have continued his influence in society, corrupting minds with false ideas had it not been the group in their quest to find the wizard. In this ironic twist it seems that we to must ask whether the quests that we follow are dictated by the shadows of an ultimate puppet master who casts shadows or if they are guided by the light of truth.


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