Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Eyes on Dr. Seuss

It's Dr. Seuss's birthday! Kate had a special assembly at school today, and she said their principal dressed up as the Cat in the Hat.

Dr. Seuss's whimsical artwork is certainly distinctive and probably instantly recognizable to just about everybody.  There's one particular thing about his illustrations that I noticed a while back--how often he draws characters with their eyes closed. 

I first noticed this when reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I had commented to Doug that the kids come across as rather annoyingly smug.

You've never milked a cow like this?  Obviously, you're not as cool as we are.  In fact, we are so cool that we can milk this cow with our eyes closed.  Even the cow has its eyes closed.

The closed eyes seem to indicate that a character is calm, relaxed, untroubled by the bizarre circumstances he may find himself in. Stuck in a pail? Not to worry. Balancing an umbrella on one finger? Piece of cake.

Many characters have their eyes closed when first introduced.

Mr. Brown never does open his eyes for the entire book. He seems to be a remarkably self-assured individual. Either that or he developed his unusual talent to compensate for his lack of eyesight.

Closed eyes come in clusters.

Even Knox, at the beginning of Fox in Socks, is happy and calm, until the Fox starts making things difficult for him.

He does have his eyes closed in many pictures, though, as you can see, it's rather a different kind of eye closing. The fox has that familiar annoyingly smug expression.

Not until Knox finally gets the better of the Fox at the end does he look happy again.. (Hopefully he won't trip going down those stairs with his eyes closed.)

Sam I Am and his unnamed companion are both in a good mood at the end of Green Eggs and Ham.

And of course we can't forget I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.

In closing (heh) here's a picture of Doug when he was three years old, with a copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (along with big brother Al and baby Craig).

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!


Amy B. said...

I've never noticed that before. How very strange. They do look smug.

My husband is much better than the Mr. brown in the books, of course. he can make all the sounds (including the whisper of a butterfly and thunder. He's a wonder.) But he does it with his eyes open.

Lara said...

I've never noticed that either! But I am guessing it will never escape my attention again. Maybe he didn't like the way he drew open eyes?

Heather T. said...

Oooh, nifty observation! There goes someone's Master's Thesis... *grins*

TMTCO said...

I have never noticed this! That is so interesting. It does create a sense of smugness, doesn't it? Hmph. Well, in honor of Dr. Seuss, I am smugly typing this comment with my eyes closed and my head tilted ever so slightly to the side. :)

Susan said...

I had never noticed the closed eyes, but then, I don't much care for Dr. Seuss and avoid his works. I love the photo of Doug and his brothers!

Kathey said...

I enjoyed your presentation of the closed-eye smugness. ^o^ Interesting observation. I wonder what Dr. Seuss would say about it?

Erika said...

I HAVE noticed the smug looks before and wondered WHY??? And now I know- it's because they're not worrying :)

Also I love LOVE LOVE this picture of my 3 brothers... when the family still had 3 more kids (including me) to be born. AWESOME!

Kim Jensen said...

I never noticed the closed eyes before either. I'm never going to be able to look at those books the same way again!

Annette Lyon said...

I'm with Lara. Never again will I be able to read a Dr. S book w/out looking at all the eyes. I wonder if really hated drawing them and making them closed was just easier.