self-reliance the predominant theme of the wonderful wizard of oz is self-reliance. the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion seek external magic to give them qualities they already possess but don’t recognize. when the travelers come to a wide ditch (chapter seven), the cowardly lion volunteers to try to jump over it. if he can do it, he reasons, he can get each of his friends to safety. discussing the possibility of falling into the ditch, the cowardly lion replies: “I myself am very afraid of falling. . . but I guess there’s nothing to do but try.” the lion does not realize that courage is acting in spite of fear, not acting in the absence of fear. in a scene at the end of chapter six, the reader sees both the Tin Man and the Scarecrow demonstrating the very qualities they feel they lack. the tin man accidentally steps on a beetle and begins to cry. when his tears rust his closed jaw, no one is able to decipher what his gestures can mean for the oil except the scarecrow, who immediately loosens the tin woodman’s jaws with the oil. this scene shows how emotional the tin man is and how quick the scarecrow thinks. A more mature reader can recognize that with the cowardly lion, the scarecrow, and the tin man, Baum is using irony to portray the theme of self-sufficiency.
Dorothy’s situation is a bit different because she needs a magical item (the silver shoes) to help her return home to Kansas. yet she fails to understand that she has always had what she needs as she continues to look for it in others. Another important point about the silver shoes is that Dorothy earned them by killing the Wicked Witch of the East. while she did it unintentionally, her actions resulted in the munchkins being set free, which in turn resulted in her being given the magical shoes that will allow her to get home. she was not given a way home simply because she asked for it; she was given a way home because she made life better for the munchkins.
Dorothy’s determination and decision throughout the book also attest to her self-sufficiency. she is independent and determined, and these qualities finally allow her to come home. Instead of resigning herself to living in a strange land, she refuses to give up the idea that there is a way to return home.
good versus evil the fight between good and evil is evident in the wonderful wizard of oz. there are two good witches and two evil witches. evil witches cannot protect themselves against dorothy, who is so good that she feels remorse for killing them. To make the dichotomy between good and evil perfectly clear to young readers, Baum places the good witches in the north and south, and the evil witches in the east and west.
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, good always triumphs over evil, and evil respects the power of good. The Witch of the North gives Dorothy a kiss on her forehead, and this kiss protects her from harm by the Wicked Witch of the West. when the winged monkeys are sent to destroy dorothy and her friends, one of them positions himself to attack her but sees her kiss. he tells the others: “we dare not harm this girl. . . because she is protected by the power of good, and that is greater than the power of evil.’”
baum also shows that there are cases in which a person is not entirely good or bad, as in the character of the wizard of oz. As the wizard admits to Dorothy, he’s not a bad man, just a bad wizard. Although Dorothy deeply disapproves of his willingness to deceive people, he forgives him because he realizes that he is not really bad. Baum teaches young readers that it is not possible to label real people as good or bad because, in reality, everyone has a little of both.