Dr. Seuss: Master of Allegory

There is certainly some deep meaning behind this guy's words. If he were ever to ask someone to borrow a cup of sugar, he was probably actually insinuating that totalitarian dictatorships are dangerous. We're not quite sure how to make that connection in this particular case, but... we're sure it's in there somehow.

American LiteratureAll American Literature
AuthorGeisel - Theodor Seuss Geisel
Seuss - Dr. Seuss
LanguageEnglish Language
Literary TopicsAuthor Highlights
LiteratureAmerican Literature

Transcript

00:24

weapons and Neville Chamberlain.

00:29

Even if we don’t know who Neville Chamberlain is.

00:32

He’s that talented. One of Seuss’ books in particular is famous

00:37

for representing something other than just a funny-looking creature in a strange land.

00:42

In Yertle the Turtle, the main character is an allegory for a rather unsavory character…

00:49

…Adolf Hitler.

00:51

Well, they did both have a pretty hard outer shell.

00:57

Seuss never comes out and says directly that Yertle is Hitler, but let’s examine the

01:02

clues…

01:03

Yertle takes over his little country by force…

01:05

…ordering the other turtles to do crazy things like <<Yertle voice>> “Sit in your

01:09

place while I sit here and rule.”

01:13

Sounds Hitleresque to us. Adolf was never too keen on people milling around or going

01:17

about their business. Yertle also wants to rule everything that

01:22

isn’t already his…

01:23

…the cow, the mule, the cat, the house, the blueberry bush…

01:27

Really, Yertle? You can’t even let the blueberry bush go?

01:34

Every time this reptilian dictator sees something that’s greater than he is…

01:38

…like, oh… the moon…

01:40

…he freaks out and starts destroying whatever stands in his way of ruling over it.

01:44

You don’t see a lot of reasoning or logic coming out of this guy.

01:47

The two also experience a similar downfall.

01:51

Yertle goes down for his ambition…

01:53

…just as Hitler did when he overextended in Russia…

01:58

…and for mistreating the other turtles.

02:02

Not the best idea Yertle had ever had.

02:03

You don’t want to mess with bad turtle karma. With such a heavy subject underlying what

02:10

at first glance might seem to be a pretty innocent story…

02:13

…is this book in fact more for adults than it is for children?

02:17

The colorful illustrations and cutesy rhymes might say otherwise, but…

02:20

…plenty of adults watch South Park or Family Guy…

02:23

…and those shows couldn’t be any less for children.

02:27

Talking babies and dogs aside. What do you think?

02:32

Is Yertle the Turtle intended for an adult audience?

02:35

Or can it be enjoyed on a… less complicated level?

02:39

Shmoop amongst yourselves.