Wizard of Oz as a Fairytale

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Wizard of Oz as a Fairytale

This question is deceptive in its apparent simplicity as it raises

some problematic issues, which extend beyond the text right across

fairytale scholarship.

The term "fairytale" itself is a contentious one and is unpopular with

many folklorists (see Luthi, Warner, Luke). Often epithets like

"wondertale", "magic tale" are employed. Even in some English

translations of European works the more semantically accurate Russian

or German terms (volshebnye skazka and [zauber]Marchen) are used.

Often authorities expound at length upon is the difference between

myth and folktale and then folktale and fairytale. Space will not

allow us to open that can of worms her. For our purposes I shall use a

system Jack Zipes adopts and assume the magical folktale[1] is the

oral version and the fairytale the literary version of a tale: "The

Fairytale in the Western world is the mass mediated cultural form of

the folktale." (Zipes, Spell, 12).

This fact established we must then consider what constitutes a

fairytale. Does it possess distinctive structural, stylistic or

temporal features? What gives it its generic status and demarcates it

from other forms of children's literature? Part of this essay will

focus on these and similar questions with the aim of ultimately

concluding whether Frank L. Baum's 1900 novel The Wizard of Oz (Oz)

can feasibly rank within the generic confines of "fairytale."

Initially, though, as opposed to looking for a definitive answer as

whether Oz incontrovertibly is or isn't a fairytale, I feel it would

be more profitable to look for a correlation between traditional

wondertales and Baum's mo...

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...n The Emerald City of Oz Dorothy returns to her rightful

home and rank as a princess of Oz.

[5] If we look at a tale like Rapunzel we see a girl of 12 whose

pubertal state is indicated by her growing hair, become interested in

men ("She wasn't afraid any longer" (Grimm, 68) and she quickly

matures to procreative and beneficial sexual activity. Any punishment

she receives along the way is overcome- conflict: resolved.

[6] Prof. Swann Jones disagrees when he write: "Audiences who continue

to enjoy this story [Oz] not because they have some latent interest in

nineteenth century economic upheavals, but because they have a

subliminal empathy with a heroine who faces the challenges of

overcoming her own insecurities and anxieties and because they enjoy

the fairy-tale like depiction of the overcoming of those challenges."
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