The Grinch, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Different

The Grinch, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Different December 24, 2018

Ron Howard’s 2000 film, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the live action adaptation of the book/animated film by Dr. Seuss of the same name), is in its lighter moments an hilarious tribute to the creativity and ingenuity of a dear fan of the Seussian genre, and in its darker moments a heartbreaking reminder of what society does with what is different, misunderstood, and ultimately nonconforming. 

Although his origins aren’t specified in either the original animated or the live-action film, they are irrelevant.

The Grinch is different; that is all that is emphasized. 

This difference is especially marked by a physical trait others mock him outright for: he is hairy. He cannot help this, but that doesn’t matter. They mock him for his hairiness, then mercilessly mock him for trying to shave it off. And even when he is praised by them later in the film after accepting the Holiday Cheermeister of the Year Award (try saying that five times fast), his same tormentors mock him again by giving him the same razor they laughed at him for using. Even in this society’s “acceptance”, it is perfectly acceptable to mock him if everyone else is having a good laugh at it. 

I found a strange but copacetic connection between this fury green hater of Christmas and the unforgettable monster created by the idiotic, selfish, and narcissistic Frankenstein (from the horror novel by Mary Shelley). Both are creatures who are not answerable for their creation, neither having any say in the matter (what creature does?), and who are punished for their very existence. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the Grinch in Howard’s film is mocked, ridiculed, ostracized, and ultimately becomes the outcast of the only society he’s ever known simply because he is different than others. 

The Grinch vents this terrible hurt and anger in an irrational and pathological hatred of the Christmas season and holiday, while Frankenstein’s monster turns to stalking, violence, and murder. Both creatures are creations of the society that cradled them—Frankenstein being a man driven to insane lengths to prove his intelligence in a baffling attempt to play God, and the Grinch’s own family and “friends” shunning and turning their backs on him for associating a glitzy attachment to a holiday with the bullying and mockery he endured as a child. 

It is not a far leap to see these same parallels in the world we still live in, though this Grinch film was made 18 years ago. After all, a seven year-old girl thirsted to death a couple weeks ago and voices are still clamoring that she was “illegal”, another word for different, so she therefore had it coming. 

Society may preach for conformity, but it secretly craves the different.

Frankenstein never does get his revenge on his monster, but still expends his entire life’s energy to the purpose to the point of madness; the Grinch (after experiencing a changing and healing of heart) becomes the beloved figure who helps the Whos see the true meaning of Christmas (yes, it’s schmaltzy but go with me here) and becomes loved for what made him different in the first place. 

Perhaps in some future life, off this blasted mortal coil, we can find ourselves embracing the Different for the blessing it is, and not casting it away for the fear it causes. 

There is a blessing in the “difference”; after all, Christ was different. He was also the bearer of the greatest weight of the world, making Atlas’ burden appear light. But, in the end, He became the living embodiment of the Light of recompense, revelation, resurrection, and healing, all while still remaining the difference that drives us all whether we are aware of it or not. 




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About Jennifer Riley
Jennifer Riley is an emotional writer, engulfing people in her tidal wave of life experiences and interpretations. She’s a bad Catholic, a good sinner, and a pernicious writer who tries to find who she is to herself and to God through her words. You can read more about the author here.
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