Illustration of the Grinch riding up a snowy slope with his dog Max.

Why The Story of The Grinch Is Still Popular After Over Five Decades

Dr. Seuss' children's story has been met with multiple adaptations and mountains of success due to the appeal of its main character.
December 18, 2021
7 mins read

The holiday season is around the corner, and most people can hardly contain their excitement — giving and getting gifts, seeing family and friends, going out to look at lights in the evenings. However, some are definitely what we call a “bah humbug” type of person, like Ebeneezer Scrooge or The Grinch, with sour faces and grumblings of negativity spoken while others are trying to be festive.

The more recent of the two iconic Christmas-haters, the Grinch is a fictional character created by none other than Dr. Seuss, the king of rhymes. Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, has produced over 60 books during his career. He sold more than 600 million copies that have been translated into over 20 different languages. He is known for his children’s books written in anapestic tetrameter, which is a poetic meter many poets of the English literary canon use. Seuss is also known for his easy-to-understand yet complex and powerful quotes.

The book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” has been around since 1957 and received its first film adaptation in 1966 — and both are still going strong today. The story also received a live-action remake in the year 2000, starring none other than Jim Carrey as the Grinch. Ron Howard directed the movie, and it was also a major success.

Every year, people pull out their DVDs or rely on various streaming services to enjoy either film adaptation. People of all ages can relate to the Grinch because we all know someone in our own circle who is that grumpy person. Children from ages three all the way to people in their 90s know this story. The movie is a favorite during the holiday season, and it is listed in many top 10 lists of Christmas movies for kids. We can’t forget about its most famous song, either; “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Boris Karloff is faithfully played on the radio every Christmas season.

The Grinch is a green, fuzzy, non-human creature with a round belly. He has a cat-like face like some of Dr. Seuss’ other characters, including a pug-like nose. He is what one would call a pessimist and a grouch, and he lives on top of a mountain overlooking the tiny town of Whoville. Everyone in Whoville is pleasant and friendly, which annoys him. The Grinch constantly talks to his only friend, his dog Max. We can see through his loneliness to find that there is more to the Grinch than meets the eye, and this might be the reason that he is closed off from his feelings. I think we can almost all relate to feeling this way at some point or another.

According to the story, the Grinch was born with a heart “two sizes too small,” which is supposed to account for his rude behavior. Although the narrator chalks up his meanness to something he was born with, I feel like this story lends more credit to the people who have had it rough — they might be more like the Grinch due to the hardships they have faced.

The Grinch hates the noises of cheerfulness Christmas brings, specifically that which pours out from Whoville. In the story, he plans to destroy Christmas and everything it stands for. He is so anti-Christmas that he will do whatever it takes to destroy it. He has been mentioned in other works of Dr. Suess’, as well, like The Hoobub and the Grinch, Halloween is Grinch Nightand “Scrambled Eggs Super! For some reason, the Grinch is popular with people — possibly because they connect with his character.

The Grinch’s nature is that of an anti-Christmas type of guy — a symbol for those who are opposed to the holiday season, just like Ebenezer Scrooge. The lack of spirit in the Grinch provides for a nice spin when he finally overcomes his bad outlook on Christmas and learns to be like those in Whoville who continue to celebrate the holiday despite not having gifts, trees or food (due to the Grinch taking it all). The Grinch soon comes to realize that the Christmas spirit resides inside. As the narrator says in the movie, “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

We can only hope that all the Grinches we know find the true meaning of the holiday season, like the Grinch did in the book and movies. While it is tough to get into the Christmas spirit some days, we need to overlook everything outside and go deep inside ourselves to find the meaning of it all.

I think we can all sympathize with the Grinch because there is a little Grinch in all of us. We can also all connect to the meaning behind the funny lines the Grinch says throughout the movie. And we can see Cindy Lou Who trying to make it all better for everyone. She just wants peace and love to reign on Christmas Day, and because of her, the Grinch finally sees it, too. While we can all agree that the Grinch is a villain at the beginning of the story, he becomes a hero toward the end when he reconsiders the meaning of Christmas. Because of Cindy Lou Who, his heart grows three times the size it was that day, and we get to see the happy ending to the story.

Angelica Rovinski, Arcadia University

Writer Profile

Angelica Rovinski

Arcadia University
English with a concentration in Creative Writing

I am a single mother of three girls. I enjoy reading, writing, bowling, camping and spending time with my family. My kids come first. I made the Dean’s List last semester.

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