As a child, whenever The Wizard of Oz aired on television, it was a special occasion in our house. It was the one night of the week we could stay up past our bedtime. I would sit close to my mom so I could quickly hide my face at the first sight of the Wicked Witch. No matter how many times I saw The Wizard of Oz, she still scared me each and every time! And, every time Dorothy felt like she would never get home, I pressed a little closer to my mom. I think I needed that reassurance that I was home and safe. Clearly, “there’s no place like home” is one of The Wizard of Oz’s life lessons that resonate.
In August, The Wizard of Oz celebrated the 80th Anniversary. I had to stop and think about that. 80 years! After 80 years, I wondered what could The Wizard of Oz still teach us today?
So, I snuggled with my kids. I popped in an old DVD and settled in to see what life lessons this childhood favorite still offered for someone my age.
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Needless to say, I watched the movie with a different perspective. The Wizard of Oz offers a number of life lessons and I thought I would share just a few, with a little tongue-in-cheek commentary! These aren’t earth-shattering. Rather, these Wizard of Oz life lessons are sweetly sentimental.
The Wizard of Oz Life Lessons
#1 Face Your Fears
The plot is simple – Dorothy wants to go home and to do so, she has to see the Wizard. This 16-year-old girl has to travel across a strange land. Alone.
Yes, she’s definitely not in the safe environment of her home. She’s most certainly not in Kansas anymore. Still, despite this, Dorothy sets off, facing her fear head-on. And wearing a fabulous pair of shoes.
But, a word of advice. If you’re dropped in an alternate universe, maybe don’t take the word of a sparkling pink witch traveling in a bubble.
#2 Lend a Helping Hand
Along the way, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and a Lion. Each time, she stops and lends a helping hand. Her new friends all want something to make them a better version of themselves. A brain, a heart, and courage.
Dorothy invites each of them along, promising the Wizard would help them too. She could have left them behind. She could have simply wished them along and skipped away. Instead, she gave them hope. As a result, she also makes three new friends.
Of course, be careful when extending your hand to a tree…
#3 Have Your Friends’ Back and They Will Have Yours
Speaking of making friends…..Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion continue down the Yellow Brick Road towards Emerald City. Along the way, they endure apple-throwing trees, an appearance by the Wicked Witch, and a field of poisonous poppies.
When one fell behind, the others helped him or her along. Whether it was the Scarecrow slipping and sliding or the Tin Man rusting due to tears, they worked together as a team.
So, you can also turn enemies into friends when you melt their evil overlord.
#4 Never Apologize for Defending Yourself or Others
Inevitably, Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion confront the Wicked Witch. In an effort to keep the Scarecrow from going up in flames, Dorothy grabs a bucket of water. She throws the water onto the Scarecrow but also splashes the Wicked Witch, causing her to melt.
Dorothy practically falls all over herself to apologize. This always bothered me. Girl, the Witch was trying to burn your friend to death and keep you locked in a tower. I say good riddance!
Speaking of water…..If you’re a villain whose weakness is water, maybe don’t keep buckets of the stuff lying around? Just saying.
#5 You Don’t Need Anyone to Validate Your Worth
Perhaps the more serious Wizard of Oz life lesson for me was that Dorothy and company really didn’t need the Wizard. Throughout the entire film, the Scarecrow showed a surprising amount of strategic thinking for someone without a brain. The Tin Man clearly felt emotions as he cried at nearly every turn. And the Cowardly Lion pressed forward in the direst of circumstances, showing great courage through his fear.
Thus, their worth was always inherent. Those qualities they wished for? They already had it. Perhaps that is the overall lesson but one I think lost in the fanfare of the Wizard’s awesome “powers.”
Dorothy, on the other hand, was clearly manipulated. Glinda knew all along that Dorothy could go home by simply clicking her heels. Maybe not such a good witch?
While certainly not earth-shattering, these few Wizard of Oz life lessons are striking from a modern perspective. Especially when you consider that the film was released towards the end of the Great Depression.
Still, they resonate even with a little snark! The Wizard of Oz remains one of my favorite movies, filled with sweet messages of love, friendship, and the firm belief you can always go home!
Where to Watch: You can rent/buy on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, or iTunes. You can also own it on Blu Ray or DVD.
What are your favorite memories involving The Wizard of Oz? What Wizard of Oz life lessons are your favorite?
(Photo Credit: Warner Bros.)