AP Literature Wizard of Oz Terms

Definition: An archetype is a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature

Example: The hero –> Hercules

Oz: “The second genuinely mythic image of The Wizard of Oz: the archetypical myth, one might say, of moving house”

Definition: A central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes

Example: Gollum in LOTR

Oz: “Even the shock of discovery, the wizard was a humbug.”

Definition: A short story, used by the author to bring cheer, to reminisce, to caution, or to persuade

Example: Parris and Abigail’s exchange in the Crucible

Oz: Rushdie uses an anecdote when discussing the author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum and his life story

Definition: A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought

Example: “Time will tell”, “opposites attract”

Oz: The Wizard of Oz was able to be successful despite its cliché of making what Dorothy goes through like a dream

Definition: Particular point in a narrative at which the conflict or tension hits the highest point

Example: Peeta and Katniss eat berries

Oz: “After the great dramatic climax of the confrontation with the Wizard of Oz, the film sags for a while”

Definition: A person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something

Example: Voldemort

Oz: “Dorothy is the life-force of this Kansas, just as miss Gulch is the force of death”

Definition: Antithesis is a rhetorical device in which two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence to achieve a contrasting effect

Example: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”

Oz: “When the unreal reality of Kansas gives way to the realistic surreality of the world of wizardry”

Definition: A brief and indirect reference to something of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance

Example: “Pandora’s Box”, “Garden of Eden”

Oz: Rushdie alludes to Judy Garland’s personal problems later in life which alcohol and divorces when he says “[over the rainbox]” contrasts so starkly with what he know of the actress’s difficult later life

Definition: Characterization is a literary device used throughout a work to highlight and explain details about a character in a story

Oz: Rushdie characterizes Dorothy when he speaks about how falsely impoverished she is

Conventional/Stock Character
Definition: A dramatic or literary character representing a type in a conventional manner and recurring in many works

Example: A damsel in distress

Oz: Dorothy was the hero of the fairy tale while the witch was the evil villain

Definition: A puzzling occurrence or character that is difficult to explain — sometimes seen as a mystery or riddle

Example: The Bible in Corinthians 1, 13 and 12 explain the enigma of God

Oz: The concept of Kansas in the Wizard of Oz is an enigma because even though it is a real location, the way Kansas is depicted is “no more real than Oz”

Definition: Statement summarizing the content of a book, essay, report, person, or etc. that contains all the qualities of something

Example: The journalist wrote an epitome of Catcher in the Rye for the literature section

Oz: Out of Kansas is an epitome of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz because it summarizes Oz but new material is added

Definition: A literary device in the front of a poem, quotation, or sentence placed at the beginning of a document which belongs to another: used as a summary, composition, or example

Example: The Godfather trilogy starts with a quotation

Oz: At the beginning of Wicked, Gregory Mason opens with 6 numbers of epigraph, one being from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Definition: Intended for instructions, instructive, inclined to teach or lecture others too much

Example: Fables like the Tortoise and the Hare

Oz: The story of Dorothy and Oz was didactic because it taught the reader that there is no place like home because there is no place such as home

Definition: Derived from ancient oral tradition, epics are long poems that narrate the trials and adventures of a heroic figure

Example: The Odyssey by Homer

OZ: Dorothy is an ideal epic here since she is called to an adventure that tests her bravery and wit, while battling an evil villain

Definition: Any struggle between opposing forces

Example: The Ring and Frodo

Oz: “The Power center of the film is a triangle at whose corners are Dorothy, Glinda, and the Witch”

Fairy Tale
Definition: Stories about magical and imaginary places or people, describe as idealistic or made up

Example: Cinderella

Oz: Oz contains all the fairy tale elements such as munchkins, magic, wizards, witches, and drama

Critical Theory
Definition: Addresses ways of looking of literature beyond the plot, theme, character, and setting

Example: Superficially, Animal Farm seems to be a story about talking animals when it really is a criticism of communism

Oz: The Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow represent more than just Dorothy’s friends; they represent love, courage, and intelligence

Definition: Something that is extreme, often magical, an impossible or improbable situation that usually has positive connotation

Example: Harry Potter

Oz: The Wizard of Oz is a fantasy because Oz is a mythical land

Stream of Consciousness
Definition: A method of narration that describes in words the flow of thoughts in the minds of the characters. Gives fictional characters humanity.

Example: Frankenstein

Definition: Secondary strand of the plot that is a supporting side story for any story or the main plot. Adds complexity and depth to the story.

Example: Romeo and Juliet and their family rivals

Definition: a 20th century art form in which an artist or writer combines unrelated images or events in a very strange and dreamlike way

Suspended Disbelief
Definition: A willingness to suspend and criticize faculties, believe the unbelievable, sacrifice of reason and logic for the sake of enjoyment

Example: Black and white films

Definition: Using an object or action that seems something more than in literal meaning

Example: “A new dawn” can mean a new day, signifies a fresh start

Definition: A relationship in which there is correspondence or similarities in pairs

Example: “The symmetry of the play, which opens and ends with a speech by a female character”

Oz: “The wizard’s ineffectualness is one of the film’s many symmetries, rhyming with the feebleness of Dorothy’s folks

Definition: The subject of talk, a piece of writing, personal thoughts, or an exhibition, a topic

Example: Rite of Passage in Hunger Games, mythology is Lightning Thief

Oz: Good vs. Evil, Good having geographic boundaries, human characteristics, some for bad (quest for power, enslavement of people)

Definition: Any literal or rhetorical device, such as metaphor or irony, that consists in the case of in other than their literal sense

Example: Metonymy and Metaphor

Definition: The sense that what one reads is “real,” or at least realistic and believable

Example: For instance, the reader possesses a sense of verisimilitude when reading a story in which a character cuts his finger, and the finger bleeds. If the character’s cut finger had produced sparks of fire rather than blood, the story would not possess verisimilitude.

Oz: She is not really but “unreally” poor.

Definition: Indifference to or rejection of religion or religious considerations

Example: schools, anything out of a church

Definition: A play on words or use of a similar sounding word to mean something else

Example: Guerrilla warfare is more than just throwing a banana

Definition: A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound

Example: Iambic Pentameter

Definition: Originally indicated the reliance on feelings as a guide to think, but common usage defines it as an appeal to hollow, unaccompanied emotion, at the excuse of reason

Example: Dog dies on scene

Definition: The place or type of surrounding where something is positioned or takes place (Culture as well)

Definition: The use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose/criticize people’s stupidity

Example: A modest proposal, Huck Finn

Oz: watches an amazing dance number featuring scantily clad nautch girls prancing on the keys of a giant typewriter. The director explains that this is no less than the Typewriter of Life, and we are all dancing out “the story of our Fate” upon that mighty machine. “It’s very symbolic,” the journalist suggests. The director, simpering, replies: “Thank you.”

Rite of Passage
Definition: A ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone’s life

Example: Katniss Everdeen

Oz: The journey from Kansas to Oz is a rite of passage

Definition: Correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when used at the ends of lines of poetry

Definition: The hero of the story, the one saving the day – the main character

Definition: Description of how real a piece is, or how much a piece conform to real world physics and natural laws

Oz: “The unreal reality of Kansas gives way to the realistic surreality of the world of Wizardry”

Point of View
Definition: The narrator’s position in relation to the story being told. The author engages a mode of narration to let the readers “hear” or “see” what takes place in a story

Example: Hamlet

Oz: “I watched the film from the child’s – Dorothy’s – point of view. I experienced with her, the frustration of being brushed aside by Uncle Henry

Definition: A character serves to highlight attributes of another character, by providing a contrast

Example: Draco to Henry, Squidward to Spongebob

Oz: Glinda, the “good witch”, has wimpy, dull characteristics while the wicked witch has more depth to her personality. Rushdie explains the contrasts on page 21

Imaginative Truth
Definition: An intuitive type of truth separate from rational or religious truth, which is conveyed by poetry and other art forms. Also referred to as creative non-fiction. Authors write about the real world + truth but in a creative way

Example: Tim in TTTC

Oz: “Shortly before my father’s death in 1967, he claimed to have found a copy, moldering in an old file, but despite my pleadings, he never produced it. I’ve often wondered about this incident. Maybe he never really found the story

Definition: The main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised so presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence

Oz: Rushdie will only analyze the plot/subplots, but also finds holes in them.


Definition: A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, typically involving supernatural beings or events

Oz: The Wizard of Oz explains the social phenomenon of rowing up and the mythical characters in the story

Narrative Voice
Definition: How the narrative is presented or conveyed to the reader

Oz: The author’s pervasive tone on the connection between the Wizard of Oz and his childhood


Definition: The syntactical reversal of the normal order of words and phrases for emphasis or stylistic effect in order to satisfy a measure in a poem

Oz: Somewhere over the rainbow

Definition: a recurring symbol, an element, subject, idea, or concept that takes on a figurative meaning. Its consistent presence contributes to a theme or establishes a certain mood

Example: “Big Brother” in 1984

Oz: “We see the beginning of what will be a recurring visual motif… when we see the house, the theme of simple geometry is present once again; it is all right angles and triangles. The world of Kansas, that great void, is shaped into “home” by the use of simpler, uncomplicated shapes.