Mr. McGlew – Yellow
November 15, 2012
The Cat and the Hat versus The Structural Theory of the Psyche When asked to describe The Cat in the Hat, one would probably tell of a wacky talking cat that helps a pair of kids to have fun on a rainy day when their mother is out. After all, Dr. Seuss’s short picture book is a well-known story for children. But this seemingly care-free tale contains hidden messages that, when combined, accurately describe the structure of the human mind. One can easily compare The Cat in the Hat to the ideas expressed in Sigmund Freud’s 1923 book, The Structural Theory of the Psyche. In this book, Freud breaks down the mind into parts, or psychoanalyzes it, and theorizes that most of the mind’s activity is unconscious. Three main ideas expressed in The Structural Theory of the Psyche are id, ego, and super-ego, which are Latin for it, I, and over-I. Id is the part of the mind that contains drives, instincts, and impulses. It has no sense of time or of the external world, so it only cares about what it wants at any given moment. In Seuss’s tale, the Cat in the Hat is the id. Although his behavior and his games displease everyone around him, he continues because he “like[s] to be here [at their house]” and believes that “[his] tricks are not bad” (Seuss 12, 27). And when the fish complains, he simply finds even more harmful games to play, such as flying kites inside of the house. The id is greedy and selfish, as shown when the cat plays “up-up-up with a fish” (Seuss 12). Even though he is holding a lot of random objects, including the fish, he claims, “I will not let you fall,” and tries to balance even more items. Of course, this game ends when all of the things and the cat come tumbling down. This fall represents a point in time in which the reality and rules of the outside world hit the id, but he ignores this realization. It sinks in, however, when the little boy kicks him out of the house. He learns that the world does not revolve around him, and soon after, he comes back to “pick up all the things that were down” (Seuss 58).Anderson 2
The super-ego of the story is the fish, who routinely warns the kids of the cat’s shenanigans. Many times, he advises the children to “make that cat go away” and “get rid of Thing One and Thing Two” (Seuss 11, 48). He is the voice of the outside world that Sally and the unnamed boy internalize. Often he says comments such as, “Oh, I do not like it!” and, “If Mother could see this, oh, what would she say!” (Seuss 39, 45). The fish and the cat often quarrel, which is fitting since cats and fish have never gotten along in reality or in cartoons. He tells the cat, “You should not be here when our mother is not,” and, “They should not fly kites in a house,” but the cat replies, “I will not go away,” and carries on with his chaotic games (Seuss 25, 27, 39). The banter between these two shows the dissension between the carelessness of the id and the morality of the super-ego.
Although he does not intervene at the beginning of the story, the little boy, who will be called Bob, is the ego of the story. The ego is the referee of the mind; it makes sure that one is psychologically balanced. At first, the cat’s tricks intrigue the boy, but as the conflicts between the Cat in the Hat and the fish escalate, Bob realizes that he has to mediate in order to regain harmony in the house. Near the end of the story, he ends the chaos by catching Things One and Two with his net and telling the cat to “pack up those things and…take them away” (Seuss 52). Because Bob is the narrator of the story, he gives an unbiased account of the clash between the id and the super-ego. Instead of interceding immediately, he observes the situation to decide who is right and who is wrong despite the fact that both the cat and the fish try to sway him by saying things like, “Your mother will not mind at all if I do,” and, “He should not be here” (Seuss...
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