Wizard of Oz
The film Wizard of Oz is used to depict the Gilded Age period when economic, population, and industrialization expanded. The film is basically a symbolic of Democratic platform and the silver standard. During this time period, the country gold reserves decreased, leading to an economic panic. People, who made fortunes from railroad and banks, became richer while others, especially workers and farmers, became poorer. Many farmers failed to solve their economic crisis, and thus, they began to join the populist movement in hope of regulating banks and railroad. However, they failed to receive much support from workers, and Bryan weak leadership created a further downfall to the party. Wizard of Oz did a fantastic job in creating a symbolic meaning that allows the audience to understand the true reality of the Gilded Age, taking place in Kansas. Every event, person, and objects have their own specific symbols that depict the Gilded Age period and the populist movement.
Most of the events in the film are influence by the Gilded Age, allowing the audience to see the meaning behind them. At the beginning of the film, the tornado, that ruined the crops, lands, and houses, represented the Panic of 1893 that brought many farmers to an economic depression. During this time, the dollar value was low since the country was filled up with excess silver, but less gold. The song "Over the Rainbow" sang by Dorothy, the tin man, the lion, and the Scarecrow expressed the idea that everyone can improve his or her live. They can change the economic by seeking help from government and reform the railroads and banks. Dorothy, who hoped to return home, the tin man, who wanted a heart, the Scarecrow, who wanted a brain, and the lion, who wanted to be brave, represented those who wanted to reform the country and getting better lives. They represented the members of the populist movement since they all had the same motive and that was to see the Wizard of oz. Their journey on the yellow brick wall helped depict the march of General Jacob S. Coxey and the farmers to Washington D.C., represented by the Emerald City, to protest for those who were being victimize by the panic and demand for their needs.
Every character in the film creates a further connection to the Gilded Age and the populist movement, allowing the audience to understand more about the history of the Gilded Age. The tin man symbolized the industrial workers who faced the depression during the Panic of 1893. The tin man gave us a clear background of what had happened to many workers who faced the panic of 1893 because there was a currency crisis due to the decrease in gold. The workers had to work hard and continuously for money and thus were compared to machines. The scarecrow, on the other hand, was a symbol for western farmers or populist because he had no control in his farm and had no authority in politic. They were being victimized by an economic depression and alliance themselves with the populist movement in order to fight for their needs. The scarecrow mocked many of the politicians during the Gilded Age who acted as if they were smart, but in reality, they had no brain. Like the scarecrow and the tin man, the farmers and the workers were treated unfairly by the rich b like The lion, who lacked courage, created a clear symbol of the main populist leader, W. J. Bryan, because Bryan, like the lion, lacked the ability to fulfill the wishes of his populist members and failed to win president several times. For example, he failed to win the election during his campaign with William McKinley. The character lion was used to criticize Bryan leadership and his lack of talent during the populist movement. The evil witch of the east and west helped depict the large business corporations and William McKinley while the god witch of north and south represented the industrial workers and farmers. The wicked witch of east or the businesses people and bankers used the munchkins who symbolized the common and innocent citizens as their tools and slaves to make money and gain power. Wizard of oz was known as the president William McKinley, whose job was to fulfill the wishes of his people. However, he was just an ordinary person that deceived people.
The yellow brick wall was a symbol of the gold standard. During the Gilded Age, currency was a main conflict that led to inflation and brought many farmers to the economic depression. Thus, the yellow brick wall further emphasized the main issue during Gilded Age. Dorothy's silver slippers was a symbol for the populist's purpose to solve the economic depression "free and unlimited coinage of silver." The populists wanted more money in circulation so they could get cheaper credit, and they hoped to solve this currency issue by supporting unlimited coinage of silver. However, the Eastern industrialists and the federal government opposed the populist solution to the crisis. Mark Hana represented by the eastern witch was the boss of big business who aided William McKinley in his campaign against Bryan, who failed to win the election.