A Few Conversation Starters.
Use this discussion guide to inspire in-depth thinking, and jump-start a conversation about L. Frank Baum’s classic all-American wonder tale. There’s plenty here to set your mental wheels in motion.
- Frank Baum set out to write a “modernized fairy tale.” How does The Wonderful Wizard of Oz differ from the traditional tales of, say, the Grimm brothers or Hans Christian Anderson?
- There are plenty of “wonder tales” that have not held up over time. What is it about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that makes it so timeless?
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is said to be particularly American. Is it – and, if so, in what way(s)? Baum’s imagery is clearly derived from Americana. But do Oz’s themes reflect what was going on in America during the period it was written? And if so, how?
- Baum called his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but what about the wizard? Is he really so wonderful? He tells Dorothy that he’s a bad wizard, but a good man. Do you agree? And if not, how does that influence your reading of the dynamics at play in Oz?
- How does Dorothy differ from the heroines in traditional fairy tales? Baum’s mother-in-law was a leading suffragette and well-known feminist. Do you think the feminism that was emerging in America at the time influenced Baum’s treatment of his female protagonist? In short, how would you view The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in a feminist context?
- Baum has been lauded for the psychological and philosophical insights embedded in his wonder tale. In what ways is this fantastical story psychologically and/or philosophically insightful?
- What does Dorothy learn over the course of her journey, and in what ways does she develop as an individual?
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