The joyous Christmas season is always accompanied by several classic holiday movies that brings out the love and warmth of the holiday season. Dr. Seuss How The Grinch Stole Christmas is among the timeless movie classics which illuminates the true meaning of christmas in a different way. This underlying message is made prominent by the antagonist character the Grinch when he, “steals christmas” by taking away all of the materialistic items that the Whos cherished above all else. This act was not done by the Grinch to make the Whos understand the deeper meaning of christmas but to hurt the people of Whoville…But why? What lead to the Grinch’s breaking point of stealing christmas? The Grinch was not born a being that simply hated christmas and despised the Whos but was a creation of their repetitive bullying and outcastation. His master plan of stealing christmas and taking revenge on the Whos was a result of one major key occurrence followed by two other scenarios which were based upon their relentless bullying of the Grinch for being different.
One child in particular bullied him the most Agustus, who later grew up and became the mayor of Whoville. The primal reason as to why Agustus bullied the Grinch so relentlessly was because the girl he had a crush on at the time Martha, had a huge crush on the Grinch. So, he made it his mission to make sure everyone knew just how different the Grinch was. With the hopes of making him feel so out of place that he would never even think Martha would like someone who looked like him “You don’t have a chance with her, your eight years old and have a beard”(Howard,Ron) said Agustus to the Grinch. But, despite his crude remark the Grinch went home and began creating an angel tree topper for Martha to give to her at his schools christmas party and was in the best of christmas spirits. However, as he got ready for school the next day the Grinch looked in the mirror and recalled the comment Augustus made earlier and began to try and shave his beard. In effect he gave himself cuts all around his face from trying to shave himself without anyone’s help. So, he put a bag over his head to hide the scars and hid behind the coat rack at school out of embarrassment and waited till the very last minute to give Martha her gift. And when he finally emerged the teacher tried not to laugh and asked why the bag was on his head and Agustus cried out, “Maybe he is embarrassed by that hideous gift”(Howard,Ron) which was followed by his classmates laughter, except for Martha. Then the teacher insisted on him taking the bag off of his head and once he did his classmates and teacher rang out with laughter once again, all except Martha who watched in horror at everyone’s mistreatment of him. After this the Grinch exclaimed as he hurdled a tree at a pile of presents “Stupid presents, stupid tree, I hate Christmas!”(Howard,Ron). After this incident the Grinch got as far from Whoville as possible and climbed all the way up to the top of Mount Crumpit and their he stayed in isolation.
This scenario was the breaking point for young Grinch in his tolerance of the Whos constant bullying. He was outcasted for looking different since he was green with a lot of hair all over his body and the other Whos looked just like humans but had pointed upward noses. The constant torment such as this scenario is what was the main foundation of the Grinch’s hatred towards christmas and the Whos. Adding on with the psychological explanation as to why the Grinch “stole christmas” is doctor Patrick Ward who states that once one reaches mid childhood, which was the stage the Grinch was in time of the particular occurance, we psychologically want love and acceptance from our peers and when someone experiences repetitive mistreatment like the Grinch did it causes “psychological wounding”(Ward, Patrick). From this type of wounding the individual typically blames either themselves for being the way that they are or those who mistreat them. When blaming oneself it leads to a low self esteem and when they blame the people who are bullying them it allows them to feel justified in hurting those who mistreated them. Dr. Ward states “The possibilities for how the Grinch was mistreated, shunned, and rejected are endless. The result, though, is always the same: shame, anger, resentment, and isolation.”(Ward, Patrick). In the case of the Grinch he experiences both shame and justified revenge, shame was alluded when he tried to shave off his beard in hopes he would be accepted by his peers but was only made fun of further and justified revenge which is why he felt it was right for him to steal christmas. Also, Dr. Ward mentions that when the Grinch went into isolation on Mount Crumpit he stewed in his hatred for the Whos and recalled all that they had done wrong to him which is what he calls “nursing your wounds”(Ward, Patrick) which is when one agrees with themselves that they are the victim of an injustice. And from this the Grinch gets further mad that since he has left, the Whos act no different and carry on with their lives feeling no remorse which fuels his act of revenge of tormenting the town.
This scenario was the breaking point for little Grinch however the breaking point for adult Grinch came at the one-thousandth Whobilation. At the christmas festival the Grinch was showered with food, clothes, and prizes since he was chosen to be the holiday cheermeister which is a huge honor. He loved being the center of the attention finally in a good way and relished in his time of glory. However the Grinch’s joyous mood came to a screeching halt by no other than his old bully, Augustus who gave a shaver as a present to the Grinch as remind to him that he is an outsider and exclaimed“The gift of a christmas shave” and the audience exploded in laughter. This “gift” was meant to remind the Grinch of the scenario of how he was ridiculed for his attempt at shaving to try and fit in and it succeeded. Along, with the memories of this traumatizing event, the mayor proposed to the Grinch’s love, Martha. However, the thing that really sent the Grinch over the edge was that fact that the mayor was trying to bribe Martha to marry him by wheeling out a brand new car. Then the Grinch stated to the people of Whoville that that’s always what anything has ever been about, are presents and relayed that in the end all of these precious presents end up in the dump. After this moment he loses it and sets fire to the town christmas tree and causes destruction in his wake. He latter goes back to his home on Mount Crumpit and concocts a plan to steal christmas.
From these scenarios that the Grinch has presented himself we can understand by using Jeffrey Cohen’s monster theories how the people of Whoville see the Grinch as a monster. Cohen’s monster theories are believed to be what makes up a monster and the ones that relate to the Grinch are the monster always escapes, the monster is the harbinger of a category crisis, and the monster dwells at the gates of difference. The monster always escapes applies to two event that happened at which when little Grinch decided to retaliate against his bullies he threw a tree at a pile of present which caused panic and chaos which lead children to run out screaming and after this the Grinch escaped to Mount Crumpit and was never seen again. Until the Whobilation where he again retaliated against the Whos and set fire to their christmas tree, an explosion, and great chaos throughout the town and which again the Grinch escaped reprimand and fled to Mount Crumpit. Both of these two situation at which he caused chaos justified or not he escaped reprimand for his actions, this is how the Grinch fits with the theory that a monster always escapes capture. The Grinch fits with the theory that monsters are harbingers of a category crisis and this is when the Grinch “steals christmas”. To the Whos christmas is a sacred holiday which is celebrated to no end and when the Grinch stole all that they believed made up christmas they were deeply saddened in the beginning and almost mournful. Lastly, the Grinch coincides with the theory that a monster dwells at the gates of difference which in fact he wholeheartedly does which is the whole reason as to why he was bullied. The Grinch is hairy and green all of which the people of Whoville are not, along with the fact that the Grinch was not nearly as excited as the Whos were about christmas and didn’t get excited about it until Matha showed interest in him which he really wasn’t excited about christmas but was excited about the attention from Martha. The Grinch fits a majority of the monster theories that Cohen proposes and explains how the Whos could view him as a monster. The series of events that lead the Grinch to turn into the monster the Whos despise was a creation of their own doing by outcasting him for his differences and bullying him because of them.
A. Cohen, Jeffrey. Monster Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
This article contains monster theories which according to Jeffrey Cohen all true monsters should have. This article helped me see how the people of Whoville can view the Grinch as a monster and how he meets a lot of the theoretical criteria of what a true monster should meet which is how I used this article in my paper.
B. Howard, Ron, director.Dr. Seuss How The Grinch Stole Christmas. November 8th, 2000. Produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. I chose to utilize this movie because it depicted specifically the reasons as to why the Grinch was so spiteful towards the Whos. This movie was helpful in understanding the reason as to why the Grinch stole christmas and I used it in my article to explain specific instances in his life that explain why the Grinch stole christmas.
C. Ward, Patrick. “Why did the Grinch Steal Christmas? A Psychological Analysis.”December 20, 2013,http://www.patrickwardphd.com/2013/12/20/why-did-the-grinch-steal-christmas-a-psychological-analysis/. Accessed 16 Dec. 2018. I chose toutilize this article because it goes through the possible psychology of what the Grinch might have gone through which would have caused him to behave the way that he did. This article was useful because I was able to better explain the effects of bullying that the Grinch had which untimitaley lead to him stealing christmas.