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Winnie the Pooh and the Meaning of Life

Updated on March 13, 2009

Think think, think think...

Chances are you've seen the show Winnie the Pooh at least once. And, chances are, you've long since forgotten about it.

You most likely watched it when you were young, maybe 4 or 5 years old. A few years passed and you began to shed your childlike behaviors. You started getting rid of things; your stuffed animals, your Barbies, your Hot Wheels. And before you knew it, you had grown up.

Recently, I found myself sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair, waiting for my checkup with the dentist. I flipped through a few magazines, but it was all the same: DOW is lowest it's been in years, suicide bombing kills twelve, stimulus bill being reconsidered, tax cuts imminent... Not wanting to sit there and twiddle my thumbs for the next half-hour, I continued to look for something, anything, that would keep me occupied. My gaze settled on a book I hadn't read in most likely over a decade: "The Sneetches" by Dr. Seuss. I had no better options, so I thought "Ah, why the heck not?"

Thirty minutes later, I was still dazed and amazed.

I had always respected Dr. Seuss for his way with words. The way he weaves and warps his words, his poetic style, even his cartoony illustrations are done with a finesse that most authors and artists only dream of. But there was something else about his writing, something I didn't quite understand until now.

There was philosophy in it. Philiosophy. In a childrens book. Ideals of equality and loving yourself for who you are. Of course, this got me thinking: what other childhood memories where more than met the eye?

And that brings me to Winnie the Pooh... 

Symbolism in Winnie the Pooh

I popped in my old favorite "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day", got out my notepad, and started watching. I watched closely, looking for any deeper meaning behind those lovable little balls of fluff. Here are my thoughts:

Winnie: Let's start with the shows namesake, Winnie the Pooh, or as I call him, "Pooh-bear". Pooh-bears favorite food is honey or, as his jars dictate, Hunny. Everything he does is in the pursuit of more honey. He eats and eats and eats, and just won't stop. I believe that he is symbolic of obesity, an extremely large problem in America. Some even go so far as to call it an epidemic. I'm not going to quote some BS statistic stating what percentage of Americans are obese. However, I can personally say that about one in every 3 or 4 people I see walk by are overweight. Heck, I used to be pretty overweight and I didn't care about what other people thought. But when I started learning about the health issues associated with obesity, I changed my ways.

Another interpretation of Pooh-bears behavior could be a representation of gluttony, one of The Seven Deadly Sins.

Piglet: Small, scared, and a little bit wimpy, Piglet seems to be a physical manifestation of fear. While many episodes end with Piglet conquering his fears or overcoming great obstacles, on the whole he is quite the pushover. It only seems fitting that he represents Americas many fears: terrorism, an economic crisis, worries of tainted food, police brutality, and a plethora of other problems. We live in an age of fear, but if we can trust our economy, if we can trust the  food we eat, if we can trust law enforcement to not abuse it's power, we just might be able to beat our fears. 

Eeyore: The pessimistic one of the bunch, Eeyore is almost always feeling down. Constantly ignored and his opinions undervalued, Eeyore tends to keep to himself. At first it reminded me of my junior high years, but them it hit me: depression. This one actually hit pretty hard, because me and most of the people I care about have dealt with extreme cases of depression at one time or another. It takes a hold of you and your life and doesn't let go. Some people get better, some people don't. But one thing's for certain: it has a huge impact on our lives.

Tigger: This one's just too easy: pride. Tigger loves himself. He has a huge ego, he's competitive, and he constantly lies about his abilities in order to inflate his ego even more. It seems that each day, people become more and more egotistical. We're completely self-centered, selfish beyond reason, and extremely vain. We care too much about what others think of us. We obsess, every second of every day, about the way people view us. Plain and simple, we are a very shallow society.

(And yes, I did use another one of the Seven Deadly Sins)

Closing Thoughts

While my interpretations might be flawed, I firmly believe that many of our childhood memories still hold some truths in our lives to this day. Even if you disagree, it's still fun to relive parts of your childhood. So pick your favorite childhood book, grab some movies you used to love, and I think you'll soon realize that enlightenment is everywhere.


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      melanie 5 years ago

      i tinkthis is al a lie. i love winie th pooh & this i b.s BYEEEEEEE

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      catherine 5 years ago

      hi. im catherine and i was thinking that you are very rong!!!!!!!!!!!!!! winnie the pooh is a character and that's other meaning besides what if someone were to be reading this who is a kid and YOU JUST RUAND THERE THOUGHTS by the way im 10 years old and that hurt me

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      Marilize 5 years ago

      I think this guy is CRAZY, damn you people always think there is something around the corner its only a disney cartoon figure like micky mouse, snoopy, ect. you sould get a life lol..... really....

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      wow 5 years ago

      hate to burst everyones bubble but the original winnie the pooh wasn't made in america .. and the show hasn't been on in years ... i think u thought to much into this .. considering that this shiw was made so long ago .. i dobt disney or A. Mline had this in mind.

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      Chai 6 years ago

      I agree with izzy. I believe that Christopher Robin symbolizes Schizophrenia

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      Helen 6 years ago

      Just like to say that not only were some of the issues not around when it was written but he had no connection with america so the issues regarding the characters would not reflect america. he was an englishman who lived in the country throughout his adult life

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      DBz 7 years ago

      What all of you fail to realize is that the original Winnie the Pooh was written before most of these social issues were even issues at all. A.A. Milne, the author of the original Winnie the Pooh stories, wrote them in 1926. The Disney movies we see from more recently were made long after the original characters were created. They didn't worry about obesity, terrorism, depression or any of today's problems. This was a different time with different cares and concerns. While your interpretation is a modern day approach, the symbolism you are looking for simply isn't there or intended to be there. The stories were created for his son, Christopher Robin Milne as a way to bring his beloved stuffed animals to life. Not so much to deal with major life issues. Sorry, not meaning to try and beat you down and I know you put at the bottom of your analysis that your interpretation might be flawed, I just wanted to put my opinions down.

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      Izzy 7 years ago

      I don't think this is true completely. What i interpret the characters as are as follows.

      Winnie the Pooh- Eating disorder.

      Piglet- Phobias.

      Tiger- Adhd.

      Rabbit- OCD.

      Eeyore- Depression.

      Kanga & Roo- Living as a single parent and growing up with a single parent.

      Gopher- Speech disorder.

      so far this is what i have noticed. i don't belive it is linked to anything about America and its problems because the book was written way before our problems here in the US like the economy or obesity

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      Goerge 7 years ago

      You are wrong. I do not say this to offend you but as a fact. Of course everyone has the right to see everything the way they feel it fit. But still seeing something the way you want it to look does not make it to be so. This book does contain a lot of philosophy but on a lot deeper lvl that what you've pointed out. Coming to think of it you are half way there to not being wrong, but you still are...

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      Kaitlin Asch 7 years ago

      I am amazed on the real ideal of Winnie the Pooh. I've heard a lot of people talk about this lately, but I'm now just looking it up. This sums it up in an explanation a teenager like me can understand. So, I thankyou, and I hope to here more of these deep philosophies like this from you in the near future.

      You reader, Kaitlin Asch :)

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      Bill 7 years ago

      I see a bitr more in Pooh, and that is he enjoyment of life, his straight-forward approach to things (een though often mistaken or confused), a happy go lucky journey. He doesn't worry and get caught up with negativity. I realized this when reading "the Tao of Pooh"--not that that book was responsible for Pooh's carefree-ness, but the book helped me realize what I like about Pooh.

      A good question is, Who would you be in the story? For me it would be Pooh. Not Christopher Robin who is rather bigger than life. Certainly not complaining eeyorem, fearful Piglet, legalistic Rabbit, or reckless, impulsive Tigger, or an intellectual windbag like Owl.

      The 100 acre Wood is like paradise. The "people" there are not perfect and totally harmless, but come close. But they stick together inspite of their differences and mild flaws.

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      Jaxon 8 years ago

      What about Rabbit. He seems to be angry, and posessive. Perhaps he represents capitalism, and how our persuit for material gain (in this case, represented by "the perfect garden") turns us into antisocial jerks with nothing left but the "carrot plants" we spent all of our lives chasing people away from.