Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Wizard of Oz

No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."

This, I am ashamed to say, is the first time I have ventured to read The Wizard of Oz, and not just look at the movie. It seems to be the theme of the summer; reading books I probably should have long before now! So, hooray for Lost and the book club, and new horizons.
I really liked this book, and can say that even though it didn't actually appear on the show, it certainly has a lot of ideas that are relevant. For reference I am using the book The Wizard of Oz~ L. Frank Baum (complete and unabridged) ISBN 0-812-52335-0. I'm going to look at a few key themes here: Comparisons to the Losties, Comparisons to Ben and the Others, and Comparisons to Jacob.

The Losties:
The first idea to look at is that any of the flight 815 survivors could be compared to Dorothy, as she literally came into Oz by falling from the sky.

  • Her house crash landed and ended up killing a not-so-nice witch for which she is congratulated. Flight 815 didn't necessarily fall on top of anyone and rid the place of an evil, but there were certainly people aboard that probably had questionable morals, and were cleansed (for lack of a better word) of them by the crash. The survivors didn't have a house fall on them, but in their fall from the sky, something in them changed. We can see an examples of this in Kate, Charlie, and Eko (just to name a few).
  • Kate, until the crash was really out for her own survival and took whoever was in her way down or got them killed. She is now very much worried about the well being of those around her (specifically Jack and Sawyer). Charlie, through the crash and island survival, was able to conquer his drug addiction. Eko was able to confront his brother, his past, and move out of the world not apologizing for anything, but being cleansed in a way by accepting his faults and knowing that he has not led a good life.
  • On the flip side, the island seemed to make the bad side of others come out, like Ben, Locke (could be argued, but I think he's up to no good), and any of The Others really. Take your pick. While not technically bad people, since coming to the island they have been encouraged to do bad things in the name of science, and survival.

Ben and The Others:
The character of Ben is reflected throughout the book in several areas. Firstly, when we meet him on the island he calls himself Henry Gale and purports to have fallen onto the island in a hot air balloon. I'm pretty sure I don't need to delve into that much further as it's cut and dry right out of the book.

  • Right in the story it mentions that the wizard can see all that goes on in the land of Oz. I thought that this particularly related to Ben as he sees all through his monitors and cameras.
  • At one point in the story Dorthy is granted an audience with Oz because she has been marked by a kiss from the good witch. Are Ben and Locke somehow marked and that is why they are allowed to see Jacob? Perhaps killing your own father marks you in a way which allows you to meet and/or see Jacob?
  • From chapter 11: "Everyone seemed happy and contented and prosperous." Ben has created a strange vibe in his version of Otherville. Almost like everyone is going through life with this illusion of happy. Carrying on with a book club, keeping a community. Even Jack, when he briefly joined Otherville was somewhat included in this with his infamous game of football.

The character of Oz pretty much screams Jacob. There are just blatant flat-out comparisons that can be made, and I think the easiest way to look at them is to just go ahead and list them:

  • (p. 13) No one knows what Oz is, no one sees him. As far as we know, only Ben has seen Jacob, and now Locke as well.
  • (p. 68) Oz never lets anyone come into his presence. It's the same with Jacob and the others.
  • The actual Emerald City is all an illusion. Nothing there is really emerald colored, it's just an illusion put on by Oz when he makes everyone strap on green glasses. Otherville is also an illusion. Especially the rugged, ripped up clothes, tent city that we first think is Otherville.
  • (p. 71) To those who are not honest, Oz appears terrible. Could honest translate to good? Perhaps that is where the whole good and bad lists come from in Lost. Only the "good" can see Jacob for what he is and not something terrible?
  • (p. 120) Oz is a ventriloquist and can imitate bird and beast. Could this be where Smokey is coming from? The mind of Jacob, or some sort of projection (either from his mind or from a machine) that he controls?
  • (p. 132) Oz can't go out because people will know that he has deceived them. Could this be why Jacob is holed up in a shack in the woods? Is Jacob the illusion, and the real controller is hiding, and afraid of being discovered?

Final Bullets:

  • (p. 34) We meet the tin man and he tells the story of how he came to be made of metal. His story begins with the removal of his legs, which he replaces with tin ones. Eventually his whole body is replaced and he is left without a heart. This story reminded me of Locke and how his legs were repaired. Also, for Locke, it seems that the more he goes through the more jaded his heart becomes.
  • (p. 80) Dorothy is told by Oz that she can go home if she kills the wicked witch. She becomes disheartened because she can't kill anything. I thought this also reflected the story of Locke and how in order to see what he wanted, he had to kill his father. He was also unable to and so was Dorothy. She only succeeded because she accidentally killed the witch. Lock was similar in that he just got someone to do the dirty work for him.
  • (p. 96) Dorothy could have become a slave because she doesn't know the powers that she has (ie. the hat that calls the winged monkeys and the silver shoes). I thought this was very reflective of Walt, in that he seems to have extreme abilities but has no idea of this until the others take him and poke at him for a while.
  • (p. 150) When Dorothy encounters the China Country she discovers that if she's not careful she will break everything there including the people. One little china woman says, when asked if they just couldn't be mended, "...but one is never so pretty after being mended you know." This really made me think about all of the Losties that have been mended in different ways, and really haven't been the same since. This is certainly not all of them but just a few that come to mind:
        • Locke (legs)
        • Jack (Kate stitched up his back)
        • Sawyer (shot)
        • Charlie (hanged/drowned)
        • Ben (tumor removal)

Final Final Bullets :D :

  • Each character in the story eventually got what they wanted because of Dorothy (Lion=courage, Tin Man=heart, Scarecrow=Brain, all of them ruled lands, even the munchkins got rid of the wicked witches). All if their desires were filled by this stranger that fell from the sky. I think that Ben is hoping, even though he fears the Losties a little, that all of his desires will be filled by the people that fell from the sky in flight 815.
  • Throughout the story Dorothy just wants to go home. Even though home is very depressing, and not really that happy at all. Her entire journey is to leave this beautiful land where she could live like a queen if she wanted to and get back to dreary Kansas. Some of the Losties are reflective of this. Jack in particular, really hasn't got that much to go back to, yet his desire to return home seems to drive him into loads of trouble and sticky situations.

Next Month: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass


maven said...

Very good job, Ange, as uaual! We've got to get you to call into the podcast!

I agree that the Losties are, collectively, Dorothy-like. They landed in this strange land and they just want to go home (most of them). They will do anything to find a way home. We might find out that their "Kansas" might just not be what they expect (like Jack) as we enter Season 4 and maybe more flash forward.

I see Ben as "The Man Behind the Curtain"...leading those in Oz (Otherville) and trying to keep them content and happy. He seems to be all powerful and people do seem to consider him their Wizard.

Ange said...

Maven: I agree that the others do consider Ben their wizard. Although, I'm not sure how content and happy he wants them to be. Frankly, I'm staring to feel like if someone doesn't have something he needs, he really could care less how happy they are. Even with Juliet, he needed her, and kept her trapped there pretty much, even though she wanted desperately to go home.

I loved what you said about Kansas. It's funny how when you're away from home, you imagine it as a lot better than it really is. Also, for sure Jack didn't expect what he got when he got home...whatever it's going to evolve to show us.

2costa said...

bens mom was pretty dorthy like when she appeared outside the sonic fence. The person that got killed in desmonds timetravel with ms hawkings had the legs like the dead witch in the movie. AS fenris pointed out jacob was the man behind the curtain, but ben fits too where as jacob is the curtain. Weather plays a big part in both. Bens magic box is like when the wizard gives all the people their hearts and courage and what not. ToTo could be seen as vincent. I liked the south park take on wizard where they went to canada and saddam was the man behind the curtain

Amused2bHere said...

Ange, you did a great job. I really hope you are free for the podcast this Tues. Your comments make a great addition to the discussion!

I thought the story of the Tin Man's origin was particularly interesting. He once was human, but piece by piece lost his humanity until finally he had no heart. Sure sounds like Ben.

Ange said...

Costa: I liked what you said about Ben becoming Oz while Jacob is the curtain. You know, I also think I might like to have another look at Toto being like Vincent. It's funny, but I never even thought of that.

Also, Ben's magic box certainly is just like the wizard...right down to asking Locke to kill someone to get his reward (like Dorothy).

Amused: I'm going to try my best to at least be in the chat room for the podcast. I'm still not sure I can talk live though (I know it's so silly).

The thing I found the most interesting about the tin man, other than his story (which is pretty horrifying if you think about it), was the piece by piece thing. He went from being so in love, to an "Oh well, I'll go cut trees," attitude so quickly. I like how you compared him to Ben. I was thinking Locke, but Ben really works with that one. It was Ben's father that gradually broke off the pieces of him, and left him heartless and mended.

capcom said...

Great summary and comparisons again Ange!

I think too that it could be said as for the mending part, that the Losties' "opportunity" on the island could mend their past selves, but even though they have the choice to become different people on the island, their past is still their past and they can't really become totally "whole" again. They still have to bear the scars of their pasts, like the glue on the breaks that would hold the broken china people together. A good example would be Sawyer, who in spite of being with a totally foreign group of people who did not know him at all, he carried his entire load of baggage and attitude with him and put forth that persona to his fellow castaways, when he could have started out as a nicer person, but didn't.

The contrasting conundrum of the idea of staying on the island vs. going back home to their bleak existance is a big issue of this show. That's a very good link to WWoO as well Ange!

2costa said...

the tinman thing reminds me of the origin of darth vader, how he was all in love with padme, then started losing his humanity piece, by piece, and also luke started on that path by losing his hand in empire then becoming so dark in jedi. I agree ange that locke is the tinman, because boone was the first one he was forced to sacrifce to the island, so thats a dorthy thing too. After "fall up the stairs fall down the stairs" it was pretty much a jerk move to let boone go up into that plane. I wonder if locke legs thing is partly phychosymatic. It was interesting how locke was using the electro-stimulant on his legs in his first flashback, sort of like keeping the muscles ready for him to walk again, or else his muscles would have been so atrophied he couldn't walk on the island even if he was healed

Ange said...

Capcom: I love what you said about starting new on the island but their pasts are the glue marks in the breaks. I think that Jack is also shaping up to be a good example of this. As we find out more about his past, going to Phuket, seeing his marriage dissolve, and seeing what he has become in the "future". He certainly isn't the gallant doctor we met in season 1 and 2...but he sure wants everyone to think he is.

Costa: LOVE love love the Darth Vader reference! And what you said about Locke's legs is very true. I wonder if he *is* having future flashes, and was having them before the island but didn't quite know it. Another example of this would be his doing all of the survival training.

2costa said...

Hey ange click on my avitar and go to my blog doesn't this picture of charlie scream dark jedi?