Binary Oz

                                                            Good                                 Evil

                                        Glinda, Witch of the North                 Wicked Witch of the East

                Munchkins                          Monkey Demons

                                                        Scarecrow                         Fire

                                                        Tin Man                             Water

                                                        Lion                                   Loud Noises and Explosions

                                                        Toto                                   Miss Almira Gulch

                                                        Snow                                 Poppies

                                                        Loyalty                               Obedience

                                                        Courage                             Fear

                                                        Intelligence                         Cunning

                                                        Love                                   Hate

                                                        Ruby Slippers                     Ruby Slippers        hmmm...

        Notice that some of the pairings are surprising, like the opposition of snow and poppies, suggesting that we might associate the Good and its implementing virtues with the North (where Glinda's from, after all!), and Evil's manifestations with basic elements (Fire, Water), negative emotions (Fear, Hate), and the Orient (where a Wicked Witch was from).  The Muchkin-Monkey Demon opposition also suggests that the forces of Evil are Oriental and omnipresent, whereas the Good is rotund, squeaky-voiced, silly, in short, childlike.  If Oz is the dream-life of Kansas, then in Oz, adulthood is cast as growth into an oriental nightmare in which all virtues are transformed into their opposites and all heroes meet their opposing elements in doom.  Only the Return from Oz to Kansas, via Ruby Slippers which have moved from the Wicked Witch's feet to Dorothy's, can forestall the process by reminding us that childhood wasn't such a nice place after all.  It only seems so in comparison with the dream-of-adulthood in which (unless you have a handy bucket of water) you'll lose everything you love to the inexorable power of Evil.  Or am I wrong?   (Structuralist analyses often can be flipped on their heads by an astute critic.)

        In this analysis, I'm hampered by my relative lack of familiarity with the movie, having seen it only on holidays for a lark.   However, click here for a more studious exploration of binary oppositions in Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineux."