Jacob listen to his superego. The story begins

Jacob Davoudgoleh

Cat in the Hat Essay Freud

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, a young brother and sister are stuck at
their home while it is raining outside. While their mother is gone, the two are
abruptly visited by a cat in a hat who helps the kids have fun in spite of the
rain by showing off his tricks and games to them. The boy is undergoing an
internal conflict between his desire to have fun and his superego telling him
to listen to his mother. As seen through a Freudian lens, the boy is able to
experience the fulfillment of his wish of having fun while in the process of
learning to listen to his superego.

story begins with an image of the brother and sister looking outside the window
at the cold and wet day. The young boy complains that the weather prevents them
from going outside to play and that all they could do was sit. He says to his
sister, “How I wish We had something to do!” (5). Within the first few lines,
the reader is explicitly told of the boy’s desire to have some fun on a boring
rainy day. In the beginning of the story, the boy’s superego takes a backseat
because he is bored and wants to have fun. Although it is possible to perceive
that both the boy and the girl are the main characters in the story because
both of them are bored at home, it is necessary to indicate that the story
should be seen as a fulfillment of the boy’s wish because the boy says, “How I wish.”

dream state of the Freudian narrative begins the page after the wish is stated
with a bump. The text says, “And then Something went BUMP! How that bump made
us jump!” (6), and in the illustrations, the onomatopoeia “BUMP” is drawn
coming from off the page. Up until this point in the story, the reader has
learned the context and the wish, and is now going to enter the dream state to
see the wish fulfilled. The illustration of the cat is a tall fury creature
standing like a human, wearing human apparel in a bowtie and hat, and using its
hands to open a door and hold the umbrella. The cat begins speaking and asks
the children, “Why do you sit like that?” (7). The abruptness of the “BUMP” and
of the children’s jump and the arrival of the fantastical cat signal the
entrance of the dream state.

the story, the cat is a representation of the desires in the boy’s conscious
desires. After the cat enters the home, the cat begins with its fulfillment of
the boy’s wish. The cat pronounces, “I know it is wet And the sun is not sunny.

But we can have Lots of good fun that is funny!” (7). He says to the children
that he knows some games and tricks that he will show the kids, and he states
that the kids’ mother would not mind. The reader can see that this is the
beginning of the fulfillment of the wish because neither of the children have
spoken and the cat already offers to show them his games.

the kids have any opportunity to enjoy the tricks of the cat, their pet fish
interjects to say, “Tell that Cat in the Hat You do NOT want to play. He should
not be here. He should not be about. He should not be here When your mother is
out” (9). Throughout the story, the fish is the killjoy that says that the cat
should not be there. If the story is seen as a Freudian narrative, while the
cat represents the boy’s desire then the fish’s character is a projection of a boy’s
superego that knows that he should not have fun with the cat while his mother is
not home. The imagery of the small fish stuck inside his bowl compared with the
large cat creates the contrast where the boy is listening to his desires by
having fun with the cat instead of the supergo because the fish is trapped
within its bowl.

first of the cat’s tricks that he shows the kids is called UP-UP-UP with a
fish. First, the cat balances the fish in its bowl at the top of the umbrella
handle. Then the cat confidently adds more and more objects from around the
house to balance on top of his appendages. Eventually the cat is holding up too
many things, and all the things fall, and the fish lands in a pot. The visual
of the cat balancing the fish on the umbrella handle represents that the boy’s
desire to have fun has control over and can suppress his superego telling him
that he shouldn’t be having fun. The kid is able to have more fun as the cat is
able to balance more items. But when the cat holds too many items and the fun
is too overt, the cat drops the items so that the boy doesn’t feel the guilt of
having his forbidden wish fulfilled so easily. The cat’s failure to keep up all
the items is the punishment in the narrative because the boy can’t be simply
given the fulfillment of his wish. Since the story is meant to keep the boy in
the dream state until he is ready to exit, the boy must overcome the punishment
in order to have fun. If his wish is simply fulfilled, the boy won’t feel as if
he has deserved it, but if he overcomes punishment, he can feel more satisfied
in attaining his wish, and the removed guilt will keep the boy in the dream

the cat drops all of the items, the fish points out all of the things that have
dropped and broken, and reiterates to the cat, “You SHOULD NOT be here When our
mother is not” (16). The fish continues his role as the superego here in
telling the cat the he should go away. Since the cat drops all of the items,
the fish begins winning the battle between the boy’s superego and desires. Before
the cat’s first trick, the fish says, “He should not be here When your mother
is out!” (9).  Now the fish is saying
“our mother”. This change in language compounds the idea that the superego is
winning because the mother would belong to the fish only if the fish is one
with the boy. The cat responds by saying that he likes to be there and
announcing, “I will NOT go away. I do NOT wish to go! And so … I will show you
Another good game that I know!” (17). The cat’s rebuttal to the fish is the
censorship in the story. In the beginning of the book, the boy wishes to have
fun, but if the cat leaves, then the boy can not continue to have fun. However,
if the cat is the one that doesn’t wish to leave – in other words, to end the
dream – then the boy doesn’t carry the burden of asking to continue the fulfillment
of his forbidden wish.

cat comes back with his second trick, FUN-IN-A-BOX. Released from the box are
Thing One and Thing Two who are there to play with the children. Thing One and
Thing Two shake hands with the children, and then proceeded to fly their kites
inside of the house. The fish protests the arrival of the Things, and warns
that the Things should not fly kites inside the house because they will bump
things with the kites. As foreshadowed, the Things knock over many things
around the house with their kites. Finally, the boy says, “I do NOT like the
way that they play! If Mother could see this, Oh, what she would say!” (26).

Thing One and Thing Two come to continue to fulfill the boy’s wish. In the
cat’s second trick, the reader sees the fun go wrong again as the kites hit all
the items in the house. After the cat’s first trick, the boy is not ready to
exit the dream state because he is still listening to the part of him that
wants to fulfill his wish to have fun. After the cat’s second wish, the boy is
ready to exit the dream state because he has learned his lesson to adhere to
his mother’s wishes and he begins to listen to the superego.

after the boy declares that he does not like the way that the Things play, the
fish sees Mother on her way home and says, “What will she say? Oh, she will not
like it To find us this way?” (27). Once the boy begins to listen to the fish
and not enjoy the tricks of the cat, the boy is ready to exit the dream state
because he has learned to follow what he knows is right and not only what he
desires. Mother’s entrance signals the end of the dream state, so after the boy
has learned this lesson, mother can be on her way home. The fish’s language
backs this idea up because the fish asks what Mother would do when she finds
“us”. Again, the use of first person plural indicates that the fish is one with
the boy.

the only thing left for the boy to exit the dream state was to clean up to
comply with the dream state. The fish tells the boy, “You will have to get rid
of the Thing One and Thing Two!” (28). Since the fish is a reflection of an
element of the boy’s mind through the Freudian lens, the fish’s command to the
boy means that the boy himself has realized that he needs to get rid of them
and end the fun. Whereas before, the fish was trapped in the bowl and then the
pot, now the illustration shows the fish released from the pot. The bowl and
the pot symbolized that the fish was trapped and unable to persuade the boy,
but now that he is free, the boy will listen to the fish. So when the fish is
released and tells the boy that to get rid of the Things, the boy will listen.

boy chases around the Things and catches them with a net. He then tells the
cat, “Now you do as I say. You pack up those Things And you take them away”
(30). The cat sadly packs up the Things and leaves. Although the both the boy
and the girl are present for each part of the story, this part shows that the
narrative is just the boy’s dream state. First, the boy stands up to face the
cat, the representation of his desire, and tells him to do as “I” say. This
moment indicates that the boy is overcoming his own desire to have fun in order
to listen to what he knows is right and follow what Mother would want. The
dream being about the boy is evidenced by the depiction of the boy using the
long net to catch the Things with his sister standing behind him. The images
show that the boy has to do the work himself in order to be ready to leave the
dream state.

the cat is gone, the boy can’t leave the dream state quite yet because the
house is still messy. Now that the boy has learned his lesson to follow what
his mother would want of him, his desire shifts to having the house clean
before Mother gets home. Since the cat represents the boy’s desire, the cat
comes back to abide by the boy’s new desire and he shows the children his last
trick which uses his machine to put everything back into its place. As soon as
the cat is done cleaning, the boy has had his wishes fulfilled of having fun
and then of complying with the wants of his Mother. The boy is able to exit the
dream state because he has grown by learning the lesson to listen to his Mother
and superego instead of blindly following his desire.  Once the cat has cleaned up, the boy
re-enters the real world and the mother comes home.  


Works Cited

(Pen-name), Dr Seuss. The
Cat in the Hat. 1957.




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