The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Brief Intro

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939), directed by Victor Fleming, is a timeless fantasy film based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel. It follows Dorothy, a Kansas farm girl, as she is swept away to the magical land of Oz. Alongside her newfound friends, she embarks on a journey to meet the Wizard and return home, learning valuable life lessons along the way.

Literary Devices Used in The Wizard of Oz

Movie SceneDevice Example
Dorothy’s arrival in MunchkinlandSymbolism: Ruby slippers represent power and magic
The tornado sequenceMetaphor: Tornado symbolizes chaos and change
Movie SceneDevice Example
Dorothy meeting the ScarecrowAllegory: Scarecrow represents wisdom without formal education
Dorothy melting the Wicked WitchIrony: Water, a symbol of life, leads to the Witch’s demise
Movie SceneDevice Example
Dorothy’s interactions with TotoForeshadowing: Toto exposes Miss Gulch’s true nature
The journey on the Yellow Brick RoadMotif: Recurrent imagery of the Yellow Brick Road symbolizes the path to self-discovery
Movie SceneDevice Example
Dorothy’s departure from KansasJuxtaposition: The contrast between Kansas (sepia tones) and Oz (vibrant colors)
Meeting the Cowardly LionPersonification: Cowardly Lion represents human traits of fear and courage
Movie SceneDevice Example
The Wizard’s revealSatire: The Wizard represents the illusion of authority
Glinda’s guidance to DorothyArchetype: Glinda embodies the Good Witch archetype, representing benevolence and guidance
Movie SceneDevice Example
The Emerald CityImagery: Vivid descriptions of the Emerald City highlight the fantastical nature of Oz
The Witch’s castleAtmosphere: Dark and foreboding setting to emphasize danger
Movie SceneDevice Example
The poppy fieldAllusion: Reference to poppies as symbols of sleep and dreams (Homer’s “Odyssey”)
Dorothy’s final realizationEpiphany: Dorothy realizes “There’s no place like home”
Movie SceneDevice Example
The Lollipop Guild’s welcomeHyperbole: Exaggerated portrayal of the Munchkins’ joy
The Wizard granting wishesParadox: The Wizard grants what the characters already possess

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies


Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismDorothy’s ruby slippers symbolize empowerment and the journey to self-discovery
EpiphanyDorothy’s realization “There’s no place like home” signifies personal growth

The Scarecrow

Literary DeviceExplanation
AllegoryRepresents wisdom and the notion that intelligence comes in many forms
IronyClaims to lack a brain yet frequently demonstrates cleverness

The Tin Man

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismHis desire for a heart symbolizes the importance of compassion
MetaphorRepresents industrialization devoid of humanity

The Cowardly Lion

Literary DeviceExplanation
PersonificationEmbodies human traits of fear and bravery
ParadoxSeeks courage despite consistently showing it

The Wicked Witch of the West

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismRepresents evil and the obstacles Dorothy must overcome
IronyHer demise by water, a symbol of life, underscores the irony of her weakness

Character Dynamics

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingToto’s actions often reveal truths about other characters
JuxtapositionThe contrasting personalities of Dorothy’s companions highlight their unique strengths and weaknesses

Thematic Analysis

Home and Identity

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismRuby slippers symbolize the power to find one’s way home
EpiphanyDorothy’s realization “There’s no place like home” emphasizes the theme

Courage and Self-Discovery

Literary DeviceExplanation
AllegoryEach companion’s journey represents different aspects of self-discovery
IronyCharacters already possess the traits they seek

Good vs. Evil

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismThe Wicked Witch and Glinda represent the classic struggle between good and evil
AtmosphereDark, ominous settings highlight the presence of evil

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismColor ContrastKansas in sepia vs. Oz in Technicolor highlights the symbolic transition
AtmosphereLighting and SoundDark, eerie music and shadows in the Witch’s castle enhance the ominous mood
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
ForeshadowingVisual CuesToto’s actions often hint at upcoming events
MetaphorVisual EffectsThe tornado’s chaotic imagery represents upheaval and change
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
AllegoryCharacter DesignScarecrow’s appearance as a simple farm tool underscores his wisdom allegory
IronyDialogueCharacters’ spoken desires contrast with their actual abilities
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
EpiphanyFraming and Close-upsClose-ups on Dorothy during her realization moments emphasize their importance
ParadoxCharacter InteractionsThe Wizard’s granting wishes scene visually contrasts with the characters’ self-sufficiency

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

  1. Dorothy’s Arrival in Munchkinland
    • Link: Munchkinland Scene
    • Breakdown: This scene introduces Dorothy to the magical world of Oz, using vibrant colors and whimsical characters to symbolize her transition from reality to fantasy.
  2. Meeting the Scarecrow
    • Link: Meeting the Scarecrow
    • Breakdown: This scene utilizes allegory and irony as Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, who claims to lack a brain but demonstrates wisdom, reflecting the theme of self-discovery.
  3. The Wizard’s Reveal
    • Link: The Wizard’s Reveal
    • Breakdown: This pivotal scene uses satire to critique the illusion of authority, with the Wizard’s true identity revealed as an ordinary man, undermining the façade of power.
  4. Dorothy’s Epiphany
    • Link: Dorothy’s Epiphany
    • Breakdown: Dorothy’s realization that “There’s no place like home” is a critical moment that uses epiphany to underscore the film’s central theme of home and identity.


To wrap up our deep dive into the literary devices in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), let’s test your understanding with a fun multiple-choice quiz! 🌟


  1. What does the tornado in “The Wizard of Oz” symbolize?
    • a) Adventure
    • b) Chaos and change
    • c) Magic
    • d) Friendship
  2. Which literary device is used when the Scarecrow demonstrates cleverness despite claiming to lack a brain?
  3. What does the Wizard represent when his true identity is revealed?
    • a) Fear
    • b) Illusion of authority
    • c) Friendship
    • d) Courage
  4. Dorothy’s realization “There’s no place like home” is an example of:
  5. Which literary device is highlighted by the contrasting colors of Kansas and Oz?

(Answers: 1-b, 2-b, 3-b, 4-c, 5-a)