Silly Old Bear Essay

2713 words - 11 pages


'Silly Old Bear!'; Almost every child and adult has heard this phrase before which comes from the Winne the Pooh series written by A.A. Milne. In this series of books written about Winnie the Pooh, the 'silly old bear,'; his friends, and their adventures together in the Hundred Acre Wood Forest, Milne captures the 'incomparably and enduringly, the frolic and indolence, the sweetness and foolishness, of animals which are also people(Discovering Authors).'; Many critics and people agree that Pooh is simply an ignorant little bear who is only interested in self-indulgence and is literally a 'silly old bear.'; This statement, however, is not true. Through the use of his characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories, Milne is able to present both the good and bad qualities of people that make up the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. One may even say the Pooh is a master of Taoism.
     Born a Scotsman, Alan Alexander Milne spent most of his childhood in London where he grew up to be one of the most well known British authors of his time(Dennis). Today Milne is praised for his 'accurate and sympathetic observations of child behavior, his wit, and his skill with language, especially wordplay and dialogue'; which are easily recognizable in his famous Winnie the Pooh stories(Discovering Authors). Although people today regard Milne's stories as children's stories, Milne did not intend them for children, but rather for the child within every person(Dennis). As Barbara Novak puts it, Milne's work 'captures the gaiety of a child's mind and suggests a positive attitude to life and a fresh appreciation of the smallest things(Novak).'; Not only does Milne show the positive attitudes of people, but he also shows the negative attitudes and characteristics of people which, combined, come to make up the philosophy of Taoism.
     What is Taoism? Taoism is and ancient Chinese philosophy that began during the 300's B.C. The word tao originally meant way or road. The general idea behind Taoism is that reality consists of all the individual ways and that the characteristics and behaviors of each thing in the universe make it what it is(World Book 26). In terms of Pooh and his friends, the concern of Taoism is a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life. If one has mastered these simple ways of life, he or she will live a harmonious and happy life(Hoff 5).
     Now, how does Pooh, a simple-minded bear, become a master of a Chinese philosophy? The answer, to put it simply, is just by being simple. Pooh is able to accomplish what he does by being simple-minded. In a Taoist's mind simple-minded does not mean stupid. Simplicity, called the Uncarved Block, to a Taoist is the very essence of natural power(Hoff 10,12). Working with the Uncarved Block, a person is able to enjoy the simple things in life and is able to do things spontaneously and having...

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