There are many ways in which one can read literary texts. One can interpret them at face value, or one can read various things into them. For instance, did you know that the stories about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends comprise an allegory of male sexuality; in fact, a very old-fashioned one. With the exception of Kanga, all characters are male, and they each represent different aspects of male sexuality and associated desires, inhibitions, fears, prejudices, etc. The stories also include a typically male (albeit ancient) bipolar view of female sexuality: the caring Madonna (Kanga) and the always-accessible whore (the honey pot).
1. Winnie-the-Pooh is the personification of male (adolescent) sexuality. He is not quite sure what he wants, or even who he is. His actions are often hampered by his fears or his ignorance. Winnie-the-Pooh is in fact a symbol for the penis.
2. The Honey Pot, Winnie-the-Pooh’s favourite thing, represents the male fantasy of a vagina. It is the ultimate objectification of female sexuality. It is passive, will-less, and locked up in a safe place until male lust (i.e. Winnie-the-Pooh) wants a piece of it. As such, the Honey Pot is also a symbol for the whore.
3. Piglet is the unwilling virgin. He is the little kid who wants to be a big kid, like all his friends. Piglet represents the young adolescent’s frustrations and insecurities about never being sure if the others think he’s a grown-up or if they know he’s just a kid pretending to be a grown-up.
4. The Owl represents pretence. He wants to be wise. He tries very hard to appear wise. In fact, he has come to live the image he has created for himself. He is the guy who wants wants everyone else to think he knows all about what to do with the girls, but in reality he is just the same fumbling fool as the rest of us.
5. Eeyore is downbeat, cautious, self-pitying. He is always holding himself back, never allowing himself to enjoy things. He wants new experiences (i.e. date girls), but he is never likely to do so, because he fears what it might lead to. Eeyore is the personification of repressed sexuality.
6. Rabbit is that annoying acquaintance we all know, who is convinced that he is more experienced and mature than anyone else. He is different from the Owl, who knows his limitations but hides them, while Rabbit has no self-awareness at all. He wants to be in charge of all things around him, because he knows best, even when he doesn’t. In the bedroom, Rabbit is the one with the whip, always in fear of loosing control.
7. The Heffalump represents everything that our mothers warned us about, such as bad company, unhealthy living, strangers in cars, etc., as well as their consequences, like unwanted pregnancies, naughty diseases, and so on. Still, we’re all curious animals, and we’re strangely drawn to the Heffalump, perhaps because it is so taboo. The irony of the Heffalump is, of course, that it is no independent danger at all, but a part of our own beings. In fact, the search for the Heffalump represents all those trials and errors we make as young adolescents looking for love, identity, and adulthood. Hence the Heffalump is a symbol of puberty, or more specifically, an escalating awareness of our own sexuality.
8. Kanga represents the teenage mother. (Roo is her child.) Kanga is a mother because she wasn’t afraid of the Heffalump, or at least not afraid enough. But even so, she is a responsible mother. In fact, Kanga is a symbol for the Madonna. Her main role in the story is to control Roo’s unlimited lust for life, clearly in a vain attempt to stop him from repeating her mistake(s).
9. Roo, Kanga’s baby, is the fearless, life-enjoying optimist. He is totally without inhibitions and fears. He represents all our desires for constant adventure and joy. He is like a stereotypical hippie advocating free, boundless sex. He is always willing to jump into anything, as long as it looks fun. And if it doesn’t look fun, he’ll jump into it anyway.
10. Tigger is a wannabee adventurer who wants to enjoy life, but is too dumb to understand what or why things happen the way they do. As he lacks Roo’s naive self-confidence, he also lacks the courage to go all the way. He is the insecure boy who wants to hit on the pretty girls, but always gets cold feet in the last moment (eminently exemplified in stories by Tigger climbing into the tree and freezing). Tigger represents unfulfilled sexual desires, which makes him the eternal masturbator (symbolised by his constant bouncing up and down).
11. Christopher Robin is the only genuinely asexual character in the story. In a way, he is God. He gave life to all the characters. He is the moderator of their lives. He feels for them and cares for them. He is the benevolent, respectful leader we all wish we had.
I hope you can still enjoy Winnie-the-Pooh.
(Apologies to Bruno Bettelheim.)