Symbolism In William Jennings Bryan's 'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz'?

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During the late 1800’s, a pervasive sense of melancholy permeated throughout the forgotten, dreary Midwestern United States. While the industrial revolution boosted the economy on the coasts, Midwestern farmers were victims of deflationary debt increases, exorbitant shipping and railroad rates, a high protective tariff, and a government that for the most part ignored them.1 Desperate circumstances moved the everyday American farmers to join together and voice their grievances. Instead of seeking federal aid or economic relief, they attempted to use the power of the ballot to achieve their goals.1 The united group of farmers used the Populist Party as a springboard to launch their complaints and eventually got their candidate, William Jennings Bryan, nominated for the presidential election of 1896 by the Democratic Party. L. Frank Baum, a newspaper writer who lived in a small prairie town in South Dakota, experienced the populist wave firsthand, attending Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech in Chicago, and subtly incorporated many aspects of Bryan’s campaign into his children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.2 Despite his own claim that “this novel was written solely for the entertainment of the children of today”, several historians have discovered that the book clearly reflects the culture of the time period in which it was written.3 By symbolically representing the struggles of the everyday working man, Bryan’s political enemies, and the campaign for free silver, Baum

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