LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Tigger the Tiger Character Analysis

ImageThe character that most interested me in The House on Pooh Corner was the character of Tigger. Since he is one of my favorite characters, I was upset that be did not make his debut in the first series of Pooh stories, but was enamored by him in Pooh Corner. Tigger is a tiger-like character with an extreme love of bouncing who was modeled after one of Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals.

He is introduced in Chapter II. He appears in the middle of the night at Pooh’s doorstep and startles him. His relationships with the other characters evolve Imageduring the search for a food that Tigger could eat for breakfast. He lives with Kanga and Roo in the Hundred Acre Wood and plays a pivotal role in the stories following his introduction.

What interested me most was comparing A.A. Milne’s version of Tigger and the better-known version popularized by Disney.

Disney added several characteristics to the character to make him more distinguishable. Until I read The House on Pooh Corner I had no idea that his spring of a tail was not the author’s original invention. Disney took his love of bouncing and expanded on the idea. Disney did stay true to his relations with other characters. He is overly enthusiastic in his encounters, which makes him appeal to Kanga and Roo but annoy Rabbit.

In each adaption that followed A.A. Milne, Tigger bounces on less body parts. He originally began bouncing on four legs. He is depicted this way in Ernest H. Shepard’s illustrations. However, in the Disney version, he only bounces on his tail.

ImageTigger made his first Disney debut in 1968 in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. He has progressed from a background character to the main attraction and was featured as the star of his own film, The Tigger Movie, in 2000. While Pooh is the face and name of the series, Tigger had pulled his own fame separate from the shadow of our favorite bear. It is fair to say that Disney was able to create a more lovable Tigger while staying true to the character imagined by A.A. Milne.

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Lamb as a Teaching Tool

In Five Children and It by E. Nesbit the character that most interested me was the Lamb and his use as a character to teach morals to the other children. Lamb was the victim of a few of the children’s wishes but was also used to transform the other four siblings internally by the end of the tale.

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Lamb was the subject of a wish gone wrong when the children wished someone else wanted the child. That wish turned into everyone wanting the child and the children had to fight off kidnappers to protect their younger brother. I believe this was the first lesson used to teach the children the importance of family, and the need to protect family no matter what.

Lamb and his rapid transformation into adulthood was the second wish made that could have potentially hurt Lamb. What was puzzling to me about his transformation was his rude character and demeanor. His adult self seemed very contrasted from his siblings. When he first shifted I was under the impression he would simply become the version of himself he was meant to grow into, but judging by those who surrounded him it is my belief that this reflected a Lamb made by magic and not what he could have potentially been.

I think this wish was used to teach the children the dangers of growing up too quickly. The children attempted to take control of their own lives by wishing everything they wanted. Controlling one’s future is an adult responsibility, and I think the negative consequences that came after each wish were meant to teach the children to be patient and not rush out of childhood.

I think Lamb as a character served to teach the four children a lessen more so than just to be one of the children. His infant age from the very beginning makes him unique amongst the five. He has this sense of innocence not only because he is so young but also because he himself is the only one who does not make any wishes. He is affected by the wishes of his siblings and even when he is transformed into an adult he does not ask anything of the Psaammead. One of the reasons his absence of wishing preserves his innocence because he is not the direct cause of any of the negative consequences. He is not responsible for the unfortunate side effects of the wishes. The other siblings were forced to lose a piece of their childhood in order to resolve some of these issues they created by lying or being deceitful. This creates a greater divide between the innocence of Lamb and the others.

ImageThe only slight loss of innocence experienced by Lamb is when he transforms into an adult, Hilary or St Maur, for a day. During this time, Land is rude and even attempts to go off with a woman. However, even in this situation Lamb was not responsible for his own mistakes. In my opinion, the adult he turned into is not reflective of the adult he would have grown up to be. I believe this is so because of my earlier distinction of how different his character was from the other children. It is likely that he would have grown up similar to the others instead of the character he temporarily portrayed. My belief is that by turning back into a child he will have a second chance to maintain his childhood and grow into a child then adult more similar to the others. In this situation, Lamb will serve as a tool to teach the other children as well as himself.

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Big Brother Oz

America invades Oz: close analysis of the Wizard

The Wizard of Oz himself is a conman who just happened to arrive in a new land surrounded by good circumstance. He rose to power because of the people’s desires to believe in someone, and not because of his own skill set. Oz is clearly commentary on government and how capitalism and greed transforms governing powers, but I wanted to shift this commentary from the Emerald City as a whole and focus solely on the mastermind behind the transformation in Oz.

ImageIn the popular 1939 film adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, the conman predicting Dorothy’s future in the beginning of the film is the same man who plays the Wizard at the end of the film. I did not see this parallel until I was older, but once I noticed I also saw the parallels between their actions. Despite the characters’ means of achieving his goals, he typically had good intentions. The conman at the beginning of the film wanted to get Dorothy to go home and tricked her into doing so. The Wizard wanted Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion to emulate the qualities they desired instead of being handed them. He also wanted Oz to flourish, and did so in the only way he knew how: introduce the people to money. These actions remind me of government protection. The whole “we are doing this for your own good” mantra that gives purpose to the idea of Big Brother in this country.

ImageWicked is a popular Broadway musical that tells the story of the witches of Oz. The story follows Glinda, a good witch, and Elphaba, who eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. In this version of the tale, the Wizard is responsible for stripping animals of their rights, but the biggest twist not seen in the original tale is that he plans to use Elphaba’s power to keep up his allusion of wizardry to the people. This technique, again, ties to the Big Brother idea of government in the U.S. Who and what exactly is controlling us? One of the problems with our government is the limited amount of transparency. The play Wicked as well as the other adaptations of Oz criticize the need for transparency in government to not only create a sense of mutual trust between citizens and those in power, but also to avoid abuse of power.

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Carroll Forever Young

What interested me most about the author Lewis Carroll was this ability to hold onto his own childhood in order to write these tales. I think part of the reason Alice was such a hit with children was because he was a child himself, and therefore knew just how much to engage the child and how much to make him or her think. In a way the “cult” of childhood entrapped Carroll, making him a permanent resident throughout his later years. This mindset of youth allowed him to think both logically and nonsensically, because children have the ability to process both even if they cannot fully understand why yet.

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However, Carroll’s imprisonment in the “cult” of childhood caused controversy amongst adults whom attempted to understand the author more clearly. I myself found questionable the fact that his friendships with young girls would end once they reached the age of fourteen. At first I considered that it was because of his child-like mentality, and once they reached a certain age he stopped being able to relate to them. They would sort of out grow him while he remained a child in his mind. However, reading about how his relationships with young girls affected his writing had me question this theory.

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This is where the “Victorian Child Cult” influences the “Carroll Myth.” The Victorians were under the impression that child nudity was an expression of innocence. Back in Carroll’s time, the fact that he possessed pictures of nude children was not as heavily questioned as it is in more modern times and still is today. It might be a product of change and our generation, but we now see Carroll more so as a questionable man than during his life or even shortly after his passing. Time has caused us to call into question the essence of the Child Cult and caused us to make Lewis out to be the bad guy. The truth is, we may never know the true nature of his relationship’s with young girls, but I do strongly believe that time and modern circumstances have caused us to question to innocence of those relationships more and more.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Drug References

This is the video that would not play during the group presentation today. I hope it gives everyone at least a good laugh.

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Pinocchio the Jackass

Symbolism of the Donkey

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Collodi’s version of Pinocchio is an obvious attempt to teach young boys, or children in general, how to be good, but the severe punishments are atypical to techniques used in many other children’s literature stories of the time. One particular punishment Pinocchio endures that puzzled me was his transformation into a donkey. Why a donkey? Why did the author choose this animal over others? What traits or characteristics does the donkey possess that would parallel the wrongs of the boys?

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In Italy, where the original tale was written, the donkey symbolized stupidity or lack of use of the brain. Depicted in the tale as well as the most recent Disney adaptation, the place where children go to escape is intended to bring out idiotic behaviors or to “make jackasses out of the boys.” In the tale, the children literally turn into jackasses (another name for donkey) when they reach a certain level of stupidity or when enough time has passed so that it is unlikely the children will ever recommit to their studies.

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Donkeys also can depict laziness, which mirrors the boy’s actions in this chapter of the story. In this case, the donkey symbolizes the desire to not do anything productive but to spend time playing and avoiding responsibilities.

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In the 1940 Disney film, you can see the degree to which the “curse” transforms the boys due to level of idiocy, mischievous behaviors, or the level of inherent “jackassness” depicted by the individual. The boys who were not as ill mannered kept their voices for longer or transformed at a later date all together. Those who were good in their heart and core were unaffected, such as the cricket in the Disney film whom spent a long period of time in the play land but was not affected at all. This condition of the transformation implies that the transformation was only intended to bring out what is already underneath the surface. No jackass will be displayed if one is not already a jackass by personality (clever Collodi.)

This relates back to Collodi’s underlying impression of little boys in general: they are all jackasses at some level, but some are more than others. The transformation of boys to donkeys in Pinocchio is meant to externalize the boys’ inner character.

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Critical Text Analysis of Little Red Riding Hood

Maria Tartar’s edited version of The Classic Fairy Tales sparked a new interest in me of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and the symbolism portrayed in that tale. According to Tartar, the act of Red Riding Hood getting into the bed with wolf was a metaphor for the act of losing one’s virginity. The problem with this interpretation, as pointed out by the Introduction, is that some variations have Little Red getting in the bed and some have her figure out the wolf’s tricks before she does.

Little Red Riding Hood Illustration

Little Red Riding Hood Illustration

This detail is crucial because it would signify, if the metaphor was constant across variations, that some Little Reds lost their virginity while others still protected it. If this is the case, why did some girls outwit the wolf quickly enough and keep their innocence?

According to Tartar, this was entirely a matter of choice on the part of the girl. She believes that no girl could possibly be dumb enough to believe a hairy wolf was her grandmother; therefore, it was her repressed or unspoken desire to get into bed with the wolf. This would mean that the authors who had their characters get into the bed were suggesting that each willing lost her innocence to the wolf.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

This is a strong statement on female sexuality, and a statement on how women are actively involved in the quest for sex and not merely victims sought out by men. From what I’ve read about society during the time period that most of these stories were written, this is a very risky message to send to little girls who were raised to act as objects and to be owned by their husbands. It was a progressive mind set that gave the idea that women sought out sex in similar ways as men.

This is a relatively hard topic to discuss in a children’s book, so my more simple belief is that Little Red outwitting the wolf is more of a coming of age mark that does not necessarily have to do with the act of sex, but the act of recognizing the pursuit of man. It is the age when girls start to recognize that boys are pursuing them, which comes at different ages for all girls just like it comes at a different time for Little Red in each variation. It is a time when girls lose their innocence because they begin to recognize their femininity. It is the act of women realizing the lengths men will go to get women into bed, but learning how to trick or outmaneuver them in this quest. The act of sex can still be inferred from this interpretation, but sex is not the only act that could mark the loss of innocence in the story.

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Cristina Paneque Introductory Blog

My name is Cristina Paneque and I am a senior journalism major and English minor. I am originally from Miami and was the first member of my family born in the United States. I am graduating this May and plan on attending law school next fall. Aside from academics I am very active at the University of Florida. I am the treasurer of the Study Abroad Peer Advisors in the International Center, the social director of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity, on the Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial team, and on three different dance teams at Salsa Caliente Dance Studios.

I took this course because all the other literature classes I’ve taken have focused on one geographical region, such as British literature, Latino and Chicano Literature, and Greek and Roman Mythology. In this class I hope to focus on literature for an age group but across several regions. The skills I am hoping to improve are my critical reading and evaluating skills.

The books I am most looking forward to reading are the stories in The Classic Fairy Tales because I am interested to see how these versions differ from the Disney ones, and also because the Disney stories were a huge part of my childhood. The part of the syllabus that most worries me is the reading quizzes, because there are no make-ups even for legitimate excuses. I hope to not have to miss class so I can get these points.

My idea of children’s literature is short stories that leave an impression on children’s behavior. Also, I imagine a large part of children’s literature as fantasy stories. My favorite fantasy children’s stories have always been Where The Wild Things Are and all of the Disney princess stories. I’ve never taken a class on children’s literature before, but I hope to learn more about the Golden Age, and what about this time period contributed to the production of today’s classics. I want to learn about how the economic and cultural circumstances in both Britain and America changed the content of children’s literature.

 

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