Study Guide

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh The Gorse-Bush

By A. A. Milne

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The Gorse-Bush

That's Gotta Hurt

Ah, the Gorse-Bush. That pesky, spiny scratchy thing that seems to stick its thorns into so many of the major conflicts in the book. Taking place in the woods, the Pooh tales involve a lot of references to nature. But few particular objects are referenced as frequently as the gorse-bush.

Milne introduces it in the first chapter, when Pooh's long, clumsy fall from the tree lands him in a big thorny gorse-bush. Pooh concludes, "It all comes of liking honey so much" (Winnie-the-Pooh.1.40). The gorse-bush is the end result of Pooh's dashed dreams, the hurdle on his track to honey, the wrench in the machine, the thorn in his side (literally and figuratively).

Of course, the gorse-bush is literally a gorse-bush in all the stories, but Milne consistently associates this annoying plant with the conflicts and tension that drive his episodes.

  • As Pooh and Piglet struggle to think of a way to catch a Heffalump, Milne casually notes how they pick a few gorse prickles out ofthemselves (Winnie-the-Pooh.5.30).
  • Pooh mistakes an Ambush for another type of bad bush, a Gorse-bush, during the "expotition" (Winnie-the-Pooh.8.74).
  • Small gets lost when he crawls behind a gorse-bush (House.3.94).
  • And when Pooh and Christopher Robin arrive at the transcendent Galleons Lap in the last chapter, Milne describes how it's different than the rest of the forest, lacking "gorse and bracken and heather" (House.10.39). Instead it's covered in the soft, comfy, idyllic grass of dreams and nostalgia.

By frequently associating the gorse-bush with trouble, Milne gives the reader an automatic reference point as we go on through the story. When we see a gorse-bush, we know a storm's a-brewin'. And in the end, when our heroes go to a place with no gorse at all, we know they've ended up in an enchanted world without a cloud in sight. No, we don't mean Disney World. (The Winnie-the-Pooh ride is awesome, though.) 

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