The Scarecrow is a character that shows his optimism even in situations with minimum available information about possible outcomes. For example, he is optimistic about two roads that he has never put his foot on and believes that “it’s pleasant down that way, too” (The Wizard of Oz, 1939). Even though his self-efficacy is extremely limited at the beginning of the movie, later, the Scarecrow shows hope by promising Dorothy to help her meet the Wizard regardless of whether he will be awarded a brain or not.
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Dorothy is optimistic about returning home and does not lose her hope even after encountering the Wizard who turns out to be a fraud. Her sense of hope and optimism is persistent throughout the movie and especially evident in the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Dorothy ranks high on the scale of self-efficacy because she strongly believes in her ability to help others and return home.
The Tin Man’s optimism and hope are evident in his willingness to pursue the goal of obtaining a heart. The character shows a significant self-efficacy by using his powers to defend those that are weaker than him.
The Cowardly Lion does not score high on the scale of optimism. He also does not have hope throughout most of the movie. Taking into consideration that he is constantly scared of everything, his sense of self-efficacy is extremely low.
It can be argued that Dorothy’s optimism is portrayed realistically. She is extremely determined to return home and in the process of pursuing her goal inspires others with her optimism. Moreover, in her journey to the Emerald City, Dorothy uses optimism as an instrument for attaining her dream.
The Cowardly Lion’s pessimism about not being brave does not allow him to notice that he displays brave behavior a couple of times throughout the movie. For instance, by jumping across an abyss with his friends on his back, the lion turns pessimism into courage. The same can be said about the Scarecrow who says that he is “not afraid of anything—except a lighted match” (The Wizard of Oz, 1939).
Taking into consideration the fact that out of four friends the Cowardly Lion was the one who did not display optimism at the beginning of the story, it can be argued that he experienced the most substantial shift in his optimistic thinking as the movie progressed. I think that by consuming a magic liquid provided by the Wizard, he was able to obtain courage which served as the impetus for the transformation of his character.
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Judging from the fact that the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion spend the majority of their time in the pursuit of things which they never had, it can be said that they are future-oriented. Dorothy and the Tin Man, on the other hand, are past-oriented because they place the strongest emphasis on returning to the status quo.
I believe that Dorothy is a character that best represents my style of thinking. Just like I am, she is future-oriented and does not lose her hope in the face of uncertainty. While being an idealist who believes in lofty ideas, she manages to rationally and methodically calculate steps necessary for returning home. However, unlike Dorothy, I can have better control of short-term objectives and use all available resources for reaching them.
The analysis has helped me to better understand the main character traits of the protagonists of The Wizard of Oz movie. It also provided me with invaluable insight into the nature of optimism.
LeRoy, M. (Producer), & Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). The Wizard of Oz [Motion picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.