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It's been a long time since I read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but Wikipedia confirms my memory of events.

When the four protagonists appear individually before the Wizard, he has a different appearance for each of them:

  • The Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman
  • The Tin Woodsman sees a monster
  • The Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire

But these are all jumbled. It was the Scarecrow who was afraid of fire, the Woodsman who could not love, and the Lion who was afraid of monsters.

Was there a purpose to this? Was it meant to imply that the Wizard was an idiot? Some other symbolism that I just didn't see?

  • 1
    Great question. I had never made the cross-connection between their fears and his shapes before! – Lauren Ipsum Nov 16 '17 at 11:00
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The Wizard wasn't just trying to frighten them; he was trying to appear mysterious and inscrutable.

The Scarecrow, who didn't have any brains, could not understand a wise and powerful woman. When he told his friends about her, the Tin Woodsman wasn't too worried; he'd been engaged before. But the Wizard appeared to him in a different shape: a great monster. So not only can the Wizard change shape, species, and gender, he can make himself into something wild which can't be reasoned with. The Lion might have been able to deal with a wild monster, being King of the Beasts, but fire can't be beaten with brute strength — and now the Wizard can turn himself in to a raw element. What hope could they have of defeating him?

In each case, the Wizard was trying to present himself as something intimidating and unknowable, with a dash of fear on the side.

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