Seuss Marx the Spot

Posted: May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

When we think of Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, we think of his whimsical children’s books. In his life time, he has written and illustrated 44 books that have encouraged generations of children to love to read and expand their vocabulary (Radical p3). However, what many don’t know about Dr. Seuss and his books is that most of them were inspired by his political ideals that developed during his years as a political cartoonist for the PM, a New York publication (Gustafson p1). He started cartooning in after graduating from Darthmouth College in 1925 (Radical p3). He got his start writing and illustrating humorous articles to different magazines such as Judge, the Saturday Evening Post and others. His career as a children’s author didn’t start until 1937 when he wrote And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (Radical p4). When he transitioned from writing to adults to children, his messages stayed the same. He wrote about what he believed in, despite who his audience was. He went on to weave his political ideals into more than 40 of his children’s books (Gustafson p1).

Dr. Seuss was much more than a cartoonist. He was a moralist and political progressive whose views suffuse his stories. “His books consistently reveal his sympathy with the weak and the powerless and his fury against tyrants and oppressors. Many Dr. Seuss books are about the misuse of power…His books teach children to think about how to deal with an unfair world” (Radical p3). Dr. Seuss wanted to create books that were both fun and educational in more ways than one, and they were. Dr. Seuss worked with children, and treated them as equals. He never bossed them around and instructed them what to do when faced with injustice. His approach was more enlightening in that his stories worked their way to prompt the reader to think about how they should handle civil conflicts. Dr. Seuss gives the reader the power to determine how the story should end, because only they can create change. While generations of activists acclaim their current political views are not directly linked to their early exposure to Dr. Seuss, they also do not doubt that his messages played a role in sensitizing them to abuses of power (Radical p3).

When analyzing literature, it is important to use the traditional historical approach. This methodology declares that critics should place a work in its historical setting, paying attention to the author’s life, the time period in which the work was written and the cultural milieu of both the text and the author” (Bressler p169). By viewing Dr. Seuss and his books in this perspective it is easy to see the massive impact of Marxism on both the author and his stories. Dr. Seuss wrote during a time of extreme stress politically, socially, economically and culturally. From the 30’s in to the 90’s Seuss devoted his career as both a writer and an illustrator to creating change needed to better humanity, a change that is vital to all Marxists. Seuss drew cartoons that used bitter humor to attack those that abused power.

Seuss worked to sharpen his political messages, cartoons and satire while working for PM in the 40’s, a paper he enjoyed working for very much because it “was against people who pushed other people around” (Radical p4). Dr. Seuss devoted sections of the paper to unions, women’s issues and civil rights. He was one of the few editorial voices to go against the US military racial segregation, where he used his cartoons to challenge racism, union-busting and corporate greed that divided the country and hurt the war effort (Radical p4).  Dr. Seuss was a Marxist with drive. He devoted his time and life to educating and advocating for society, willing to write in every form in order to create the change needed for society to flourish. His artistry best served society and promoted social betterment by creating literature where art and societal concerns intersect (Bressler p170).  His art was a gift to society.

Various Hidden Political Messages:


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