Mar 17 2014

Yertle, the one-percenter

Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was the author of many much-beloved clever children’s books. He was quite progressive in his views and many of his stories can be read as metaphors, critiques of society and war and the destruction of the environment.

Take for example this animated version of the story of Yertle the Tertle, read by John Lithgow.

It is pretty clear that this is all about the evils of the few exploiting the many. Yertle was a one-percenter before the term was even coined.


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  1. 1

    I don’t think it counts as a “Godwin”, but I seem to recall that Dr. Seuss said that Yertle was supposed to be Hitler.

  2. 2

    I do so love Seuss, and I do so love Yertle,
    My favorite metaphor-framed-as-a-turtle
    Reminding us all, what we all should have known,
    That a turtle belongs in a pond, not a throne,
    That his chair did not need to be bigger, but littler,
    (and yes, it is true, he was meant to be Hitler)
    Seuss meant what he said, and he said what he meant,
    That the turtle was Adolf, and not “one percent”
    While some billionaire asshole is worthy of shame
    It’s unlikely that Hitler and he are the same

  3. 3
    Mano Singham


    How do you manage to turn out these great rhymes so easily?

  4. 4

    @ Cuttlefish: You probably already have more of them than you could ever possibly use, but that comment definitely merits you yet another Internets.

  5. 5
    Mano Singham

    Although Seuss may have meant Yertle to represent Hitler (thanks to all those who pointed that out), he seems to be an even better symbol of the one-percenters.

  6. 6

    @ Mano: Sure, and I’ll bet that the 1%ers aren’t going to be the last group we can apply the story’s message to.

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