Analysis of Dr Seuss' "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" Choose a critical theory (Marxist, Feminist, New Historicism, or Psychoanalytic) and make an analysis according to its percepts.

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tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a very satirical, anti-commercialism story. In the commemorative, anniversary DVD there are interviews with his wife and critics who verify this. Geisel's daughter said that she can just picture her father sitting up in his home office, which so happened to be on a hill overlooking a valley, just stewing about all of the materialism and commercialization of the holidays. She said that her father just didn't like the craziness that the holidays brought with them; she said that the Grinch was her father's alter-ego, if you will. But the reason it was so successful has to be that we all feel that way at some point in life, although probably not during childhood. However, there's nothing really too deep to psychoanalyze here as far as the author is concerned. He was a normal American frustrated with materialism in America.

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Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Psychoanalytic perspective:

Sigmund Freud who was an Austrian neurologist who became known as the founding father of psychoanalysis believed that all facets of personality arise from conflict between our emotions impulses and the strivings restraints against them. According to Freud, personality consists of three interacting structures: the id, the ego, and the superego.

The id is a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that constantly strives to satisfy basic drives to survive, reproduce, and aggress. It is primarily unconscious and operates on the pleasure principle. It seeks immediate gratification. Grinch is known as heartless in who Ville. The first time Cindy Lou, a little girl meets the Grinch is when she is at the post office with her father. The Grinch scares her, and causes Cindy to fall into the mail sorting machine. To her surprise, the Grinch rescues her. However, Cindy Lou is curious and therefore investigates his early life. Grinch is known for hating Christmas. His hatred actually derived from his sad childhood. As a child the Grinch was different, he didn’t fit in, just because of his looks. His id takes over. He has an unconscious hatred. The sad childhood is the cause of his aggression. What would happen if he fit in society, if he wasn’t any different from his class mates? The Grinch would have a different balanced personality. But right now, it the complete opposite. The Grinch builds his aggression toward Christmas and everyone that is different from him. When the Grinch throws Cindy Lou in the mail machine, it shows the increasing power of the id. However, max his dog convinces the Grinch to help Cindy. Therefore, the Grinch rescues her. Max is the symbolism of good! Max represents the superego in the Grinch. Since the Grinch obeys Max and rescues Cindy, it shows that the Grinch’ personality is trying its hardest to balance out. However, the id is overpowering him. When Mayor gave Martha the ring and proposed, the Grinch was upset. When the Mayor gave a razor to the Grinch as a gift, it flipped him completely. It brought back his childhood and the ID quickly reacts. The id is taking control making him aggressive and heartless and that doesn’t let his personality balance.

            Cindy Lou-Hoo and Max is like his mentor. They represent the good in him. They are his superegos. According to Freud, superego is the part of personality that represents internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscious). Grinch also developed a stronger superego that led him to rescue the sled before it toppled off the mountain.

            On the other hand according to Freud the ego is the largely conscious, “executive” part of the personality. The ego mediates among the demands of the id, superego, and reality. The Grinch lacks this because the trauma of his childhood overpowers the id, causing the ego to not perform its job, making the Grinch’ personality imbalanced. The ego operates on the reality principle. The Grinch develops, the id is no longer in control. Grinch saves Cindy Lou Who showing the transition of his personality. He is doing things that are morally correct, like returning the gifts to the people he had despised all along. Freud proposed that the ego protects itself with defense mechanisms. These are tactics that reduce or redirect anxiety. The Grinch definitely displays Projection (disguising their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others). The Grinch projects his sad childhood on his two caregivers by pretending not to care. Deep down, he cares a lot. The Grinch also exhibits displacement (when impulses are directed toward an object other than the one that caused arousal). He exhibits this by displacing anger of nonacceptance of his childhood peers on Christmas, when Christmas did nothing to the Grinch. The Grinch also exhibits denial (refuse to perceive painful realities) when he says he can’t find time to go to the Whobilation. The truth is that The Grinch has nothing to do, it is the painful reality that the Grinch can’t face. The Grinch is lying to himself about his life. He is truthfully bored and alone.

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