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The King's Stilts

The King's Stilts


by Dr. Seuss

King Birtram

Character Analysis

King Birtram is the kind of man who leaves quite the impression—and the right kind, too. If you were going into a job interview, you'd want to emulate the same traits that Birtram does. He's hardworking, disciplined, has quirky interests and hobbies, and is really great with animals.

What's not to like?

A King With a Work Ethic

Birtram is one hardworking dude. We know this from the get-go, when we see Birtram waking up at 5 o'clock (in the morning, of course) to sign papers while in the bath and when eating breakfast:

By seven every morning the King had always finished more business than most kings do in a month. (6)

The narrator lets us know that the king gets more work done each day than most rulers do in an entire month, so we know he must be seriously quick on the draw with that signature of his.

A Firm Hand

He also rules with a kind but firm hand. Even though cats (as any of us who have ever been cat owners know) can get a little lazy and complacent, the King manages them quite well nonetheless.

And it's all in the name of his people. He has to keep out the nasty Nizzards somehow. And because of this protection, the townspeople love him and respect his rule. King Birtram is honorable, does the job he's supposed to, and seems to treat everyone well.

A Seeker of Balance

Sure, he may be one seriously awesome ruler, but you know what? He's also just like the rest of us. He needs balance in order to be happy. We're not so different from King Birtram as we sit in our castles, cubicles, classrooms, or DMV waiting rooms all day, working hard and waiting for that sweet moment when we can indulge in stilt-walking, baking, crocheting or watching the latest ANTM marathon. You know, like the things that really bring us happiness and fulfillment.

Check out this description of the king at the end of a long workday:

Then the King smiled. "A hard day," he'd say, "full of nizzardly worries. A long day," he'd say. "Now it's time for some fun!"

This was the moment King Birtram lived for. When he worked, he really worked… but when he played, he really PLAYED! (20-21)

With those stilts, the king really knows how to let loose. And without those stilts, he's a big ol' mess and brings everyone down with him. It just goes to show—you have to take care of yourself in addition to working hard. Because if you don't take care of yourself, how are you supposed to take care of all the folks that live in your own kingdom (read: living room)?

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