“I Think The World Is Like A Great Mirror,…”: A Look At Aunt Jane’s Nieces

“I think the world is like a great mirror, and reflects our lives just as we ourselves look upon it.  Those who turn sad faces toward the world find only sadness reflected.  But a smile is reflected in the same way, and cheers and brightens our hearts.”  So says the crippled girl, Myrtle Dean in Aunt Jane’s Nieces and Uncle John, but it could easily sum up L. Frank Baum’s philosophy of life, and Aunt Jane’s nieces embody that philosophy through their different personalities.  Patricia Doyle, the beloved daughter of Major Doyle, is an impetuous redhead with sparkling eyes, who, although quite poor, takes a positive attitude toward life.  Elizabeth de Graf is an unwanted daughter, who has a cold, untrusting nature, but will try to make the most of any situation.  Louise Merrick is a somewhat shallow, vain, society girl, but displays determination when confronted by obstacles.

Baum had an optimistic view of life even though he suffered from heart disease.  He was a doer and loved to travel and seek adventures as do the nieces and virtually every major female character in Baum’s writing.  He embodied the American philosophy that life gives you the opportunities to make something of yourself, but you must provide the initiative.  Madeleine L’Engle expressed this idea profoundly in A Wrinkle in Time:  “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”  Baum could not have agreed more.