Psychoanalysis of Cat in the Hat

This is a great sample of student writing.

A Cat, a Hat, and a Mother’s Dilemma

Children’s books, though simple on the surface, oftentimes act as an important vehicle to bring deeper, real world situations to the forefront. Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat illustrates the moral and ethical dilemmas associated with desire, and the power of the forces that act against it. On a cold, rainy day, two children sit at home awaiting the return of their mother. The visit of a strange Cat in a striped hat forces the two, along with their responsible and skeptical pet Fish, to question the difference between right and wrong, and evaluate the importance of morals against basic impulses. Sigmund Freud’s structural model of personality helps give a deeper look into the driving forces of the human mind, also known as the Id, Ego, and Superego, which, as represented by characters in The Cat in the Hat, are vital to understanding the functions of personality.

Though not a prominently present character in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, the Mother’s role acts as a crucial catalyst in the development of the story’s plot, and aids in offering resolution to an uncertainty present during its climax. When confronted by the Cat in the Hat, a physical manifestation of desire, the two children immediately jump into a series of ridiculous games and antics. However, with the presence of their pet Fish, the voice of reason, the two are forced to contend with the overarching demands of their mother, who, despite her lack of physical presence, delivers a powerful sense of right and wrong. The Fish, a representation of the Superego, or the good conscience, wills the children to do what is right, a concept driven by the absence of their mother. Throughout the storyline, Fish worries of the children being punished by their mother for partaking in reckless activities while she is out shopping. “No! No! Make that cat go away!” Fish insists, “Tell that Cat in the Hat you do NOT want to play. He should not be here. He should not be about. He should not be here when your mother is out!” (Seuss 11). In enforcing Mother’s rules, Fish displays the discipline crucial to developing the plot and illustrating the power of the superego in The Cat in the Hat.

Ironically, the actions of the mother do not reflect the impact she has on others. Irresponsibly, Mother busies herself for the day by spending it out of the house, while leaving her young children alone at home. As described by the story’s narrator, “I”, “Then Sally and I did not know what to say. Our mother was out of the house for the day” (Seuss 8). The choice to deliberately leave her small children at home alone for an extended period of time reflects Mother’s shallow decision making process. Without thinking of the consequences, she follows her Id, or her need for instant gratification, and as a result, makes a questionable decision. Like religion, Mother represents a higher power in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat but does not necessarily partake in the good judgement her character embodies.

The Id, Ego, and Superego of Freud’s structural model of personality aid in distinguishing the relevance of each of the characters in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. Mother, a character with great importance but an unsteady presence in the plot, illustrates the power of the Superego in her absence. However, Mother herself partakes in self indulgent and irresponsible behaviours of leaving her children alone for the day, representing of the Id. Understanding the context of this story can extend to the environment of a real world household. Taking responsibility for children is crucial in maintaining a safe and functional life, and raising youth to understand the relevance of morals and culpability. In addition, finding balance between the swaying influences of desire and morality can offer peace in life’s constant battle between right and wrong, in the end, making life better.

Written by mschrowe

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