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4 min Read
Published December 19, 2013

Four Life Virtues Brought Home From Oz: The Yellow Brick Road to Enlightenment

I remember sitting on the floor, watching the television through my partially-covered eyes, filled with anxiety and anticipation. After all, the Wizard of Oz was truly the first “horror film” I’d ever seen, and the Wicked Witch of the West was the first movie monster presented to me in childhood.

With each step Dorothy Gale took down the yellow brick road, I was petrified the horrible witch was going to be lurking around the corner. But where there is darkness, there is also light. By the end of this action-packed thriller, Dorothy overthrows the hydrophobic villain and becomes the heroine of Emerald City, releasing all that live in the Land of Oz from the horrid wrath of the Wicked Witch.

The Wizard of Oz is a favorite holiday classic, and this season, watching this movie with mature and grown up eyes, I can now see all the virtues L. Frank Baum was trying teach children in this thrilling and beautiful story. This adventure goes much deeper than just a small town farm girl trying to defeat a Wicked Witch and find her way back to the prairie lands of Kansas.

“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders” L. Frank Baum

With each step Dorothy Gale takes down the yellow brick road, she grows and learns all the problems she’s running away from are within her the whole time. However, since we are not born with life virtues, she develops them slowly, only able to truly understand them at the end of her journey. Virtues must be learned through life experiences we go through down our own yellow brick road to enlightenment.


The Virtue of Friendship

Life Virtues -- The Yellow Brick Road to Enlightenment - 1
Learning how to be virtuous can not be learned by oneself.

Virtue cannot be learned or developed all by one’s self. Each of us must have the opportunity to practice virtues we are taught by means of developing friendships. And so Dorothy begins her journey with her first friend, The Scarecrow. Just as in real life, we are all presented with people that come in and out of lives for a purpose. Sometimes they come into our life to help us, and sometimes we are there to help them.

“You’re the best friends anyone could ever have!” Dorothy Gale

The Scarecrow truly believes that his lack of brains makes him a pitiful friend indeed. In continuing their journey, they then encounter The Tin Man who feels that he hasn’t a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who feels he has no courage. However, by learning to accept each other’s differences and support each other on their quest, they prove that our weaknesses may help build closer bonds that our strengths. In weakness, we learn to rely on friendships.

Their friendship teaches diversity. By working together, they each find they have the fortitude to continue on the long and dangerous pilgrimage. Determination to follow our bliss down our own yellow brick road is not meant to be done alone.

With their common opposition of the Wicked Witch, a friendship is cultivated between these four individuals who desire to be something more than they feel they are.

RELATED: 6 Terrible Life Lessons Learned by Playing Final Fantasy.

They need each other in order to obtain the virtues they seek within themselves. We all have people in our lives that can help us accomplish our own life goals. It is up to you to accept the gift of friendship and in return your friendship not only helps yourself but you help them.


The Virtue of Intellect and Knowledge

It does seem that some people we meet do seem to talk about things they really know nothing about.
It does seem that some people we meet do seem to talk about things they really know nothing about.

“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?” It does seem that some people we meet do seem to talk about things they really know nothing about. In the book, L. Frank Baum states that we are all born with brains but it is only through life experience that brings knowledge and the more you experience, the more knowledge you obtain. There is some irony that a scarecrow lacks the ability to scare crows. In reality we all have a brain it is how you use it that allows you to gain the virtue of knowledge and intellect. The power of thoughts can be utilized to expand on your knowledge or can limit your perception of how you think things should be.

“Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.” The Wizard

To be a true free thinker, you must not only take in account of what others teach you but go beyond what you have been taught and discover your own thoughts on the matter instead of allowing someone to tell you that is the way things are. When you are a free thinker you take everything you learn with a grain of salt and learn to develop your own perceptions on the matter. It’s not that the scarecrow lacks the ability to think, he lacks the life experience and education to expand on the thoughts he already has. We can all be “Doctors of Thinkology” if we are willing to go outside what we were taught or conditioned to and pull from other resources other than what is presented in front of us. Free thinkers must question everything they are taught.

Dorothy is presented to the scarecrow not only as a friend but to teach and give the Scarecrow a new direction in his own thoughts. It’s not that the scarecrow lacks intellect but the ability to make good judgments that would make it possible for him to scare the crows. We only know what we have been taught, so when you know better you do better. The Scarecrow learns the ability to make good judgments by devising a diabolical plan to rescue Dorothy from the Wicked Witch’s castle.

RELATED: 5 Life Lessons We Can All Learn From Cats.

Life presents to us situations where we must use our brains to overcome difficult challenges. When we use our brains and thoughts to figure out a way to get ourselves or others out of trouble it is then that you begin to obtain the virtue of knowledge. Learning the right and wrong way and applying your best judgement on the matter to succeed. We are all not going to make the best decisions in our own lives all the time, but with failures in our own judgement becomes a lesson learned and directs our attention to a new road to success. There are no mistakes in life, only life lessons needed to become intellectual in our own right.


The Virtue of Compassion

Love is the virtue of the heart and the heart shows that virtue through compassion.
Love is the virtue of the heart and the heart shows that virtue through compassion.

There is no heart without compassion. The Tin Man thought that because he lost the love of the munchkin girl he wanted to marry, he’d lost his ability to love. However, through this pain and emptiness, the Tin Man learned empathy. A broken heart is a common thread all humanity can share, and we learn to relate to each other through the empathy and compassion of shared heartache. Compassion brings joy, but also allows us to feel sorrow and pain. The Tin Man had become wrapped up in his lost love, focusing solely on the negative emotion. He forgot how to love. His happiness disappeared within his heart and his chest became void and hollow.

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.” The Wizard

The Tin Man was unable to express this emotion of love and happiness until Dorothy Gale came along and saved him from being immobilized and trapped in his own fear. It’s easy to get so caught up in our own pain that we put our whole life on pause. Dorthy’s friendship gave his life a new purpose, and because of his own pain, he was able to relate to her desperation. Unfrozen, he could learn to show compassion by focusing on the needs of others instead. With Dorothy’s friendship and her own compassion to help move the Tin Man in motion, she helped bring out the love he longed to feel again through the gift of compassion.

The Tin Man never lacked compassion, love, or happiness–he had simply become numb to avoid the negative emotions, thus becoming disconnected from all feelings. Compassion is the one virtue that spreads among all spiritual faiths. To show love and compassion to someone who is experiencing pain is the greatest and most priceless gift you could ever give anyone. And the reward for the gift that you give to another is returned to you by the good deeds you do. The Tin Man learns this trait by helping Dorothy Gale along her journey and becomes her protector and guardian from the Wicked Witch. The ‘Good Deed Doer” realized that by doing something good for others allowed him to feel the joy and happiness that was always within him.


The Virtue of Courage

Courage is the most challenged and tested of all virtues.
Courage is the most challenged and tested of all virtues.

Courage is the most tested of all virtues. The Cowardly Lion has heart and knowledge, but can not seem to balance the two in order to face his own fears. On the outside, the Cowardly Lion appears ferocious with a loud roar and snarling teeth, but it is only when Dorothy Gale confronts him for bullying her dog Toto that his lack of courage surfaces. He is emotional and a nervous wreck and instead of waging his tale, he uses it to wipe away his tears of frustration.

“There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. True courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” The Wizard

He seems to have lost his nerve and authority that all Lions should represent as King of the Forest. “As for you my friend you are a victim of disorganized thinking.” The Cowardly Lion is under the impression that the virtue of courage can only be obtained through the outward display of actions and does not relate courage to the morals of knowledge and the wisdom of the heart. By helping Dorothy and her friends, he learns that courage is not acquired by ones actions but through the inner self awareness of one’s heart. The Cowardly Lion already had courage–it was just a matter of when he was ready to choose to access what already resided within him.

When he helps rescue Dorothy from the Witch’s Castle, his courage comes to the surface because of the love he for his friends. Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the willingness to stand up and fight regardless of your fear. Sometimes, it takes an extra push to find what we’re willing to be courageous for.

“There’s No Place Like Home”

In the beginning of this adventure, the main characters are under the impression that they need the authority of the Wizard to obtain the virtues each of them are lacking. “Pay not attention to that man behind the curtain!” Unfortunately they uncover that the “All and Powerful Wizard of Oz” is nothing but a charlatan hiding behind a mask of smoke and mirrors. He is not a bad–just a shoddy wizard. He doesn’t have a magic word to say or conjure up to grant them the virtues they seek. Life does not work that way. Although the Wizard can not grant the virtues that each character seeks, the Wizard does help them see that virtues must be sought within their own souls. And it was the virtue of friendship that brought each of the other virtues to the surface.

When all is said and done, Dorothy learns she had the power to go home all along. In a sense, Glinda symbolizes Dorothy’s higher self, her own inner voice. The ruby slippers were the tools to use to tap into that power of her higher self.

RELATED: A Shocking Act of Kindness Ripples On In Song.

“Home is Where the Heart Is and There is No Place Like Home”

Maturity is the result of growing into our own virtues. We must learn that we all have to be accountable and take the responsibility of our own actions and can not rely solely on others to take us back home. “Home” represents the answers we seek within us and the center of our own being. Dorothy’s journey represents finding our own center.

”Home” represents the answers we seek within us and the center of our own being.
”Home” represents the answers we seek within us and the center of our own being.

We must all learn to “Know thyself.” So I wish you all luck as you travel down your yellow brick road of wisdom and enlightenment to learn life virtues we are all lacking in this journey of life.

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  • Hope Thompson


  • Trying to educate the world one SLICE OF HISTORY at a time! Hope Thompson is a freelance journalist focused on hidden history, Southern & Appalachian folklife, and Native American culture. She is a native of North Carolina and has been writing for this space for four years. She currently works in state government finance and owns a graphic design business. All my articles.

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