Populist Allegory Essay, Research Paper
The Populist Party came about in the late 19th century, at which time farmers were suffering from declining agricultural prices. Many believed that the federal government’s currency policy favored eastern banks and industrialists at the expense of farmers and workers. Delegates from farm and labor groups met at Omaha in 1892 and formed the Populist Party, also known in some states as the People’s Party . Its platform called for the free coinage of silver and plenty of paper money, among other popular reforms. The Populist presidential candidate in the 1892 election was James B. Weaver. The Populist
Party dissolved after the Democrats adopted free coinage of silver and nominated William J. Bryan for presidential candidate in 1896, at which time agrarian insurgency had declined due in part to rising farm prices. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz helps support a populist allegory by depicting and representing different people, things, and happenings that occurred in the Populist Era.
The Gold Standard is represented through the yellow brick road. In the late 1890 s, one of the largest concerns of the United States was currency. If the government stopped coining silver and went back to the gold standard, then gold would be used to back the currency. The citizens demanded gold in exchange for Federal Reserve Banks 1933 because the country was facing a severe depression. This caused commercial banks and both of the Federal Reserve banks to close down. Federal Reserve Act caused a change only to allow the Federal Reserve Banks to hold gold. McKinley supported the Gold Standard Act of 1900 that required all United States paper money to be backed by gold.
Moreover, the silver slippers are represented as silver coinage. Most Democrats had supporting the coinage of silver (which would have mildly inflated the currency), however, Cleveland refused to support this idea, giving the nomination to William Jennings Bryan. He called for unlimited coinage of silver at a rate of sixteen parts of silver to one part of gold. Bryan also wanted the government to get involved in labor strikes and more federal power for the Interstate Commerce Commission against the railroads that earned
public distrust for their rebate and kickback policies for large companies.
The farmers of the Midwest are represented by the scarecrow. The scarecrow was afraid of fire, just like the farmers of the Midwest. They needed the aid of water when fires occurred or they risked their whole life being ruined. The crow that picked at the scarecrows straw could very well be the government itself, suggesting that the government needs to relieve the farmers.
All of the above examples prove that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz may be
intended as a populist allegory. The whole movie gives has several representational values all throughout the movie, which may also provide further proof that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was intended to be a populist allegory.