**Note: These are wartime propaganda cartoons, and his depictions of the Japanese are very unflattering**
His books for children often contain political ideas and themes, some more explicit than others. The Lorax explicitly promotes environmental awareness and conservation, "The Sneetches" clearly addresses issues of discrimination and anti-Semitism, and the tyrannical Yertle the Turtle was even depicted with a Hitler-esque mustache in early editions of the book, and Seuss himself stated: 'I couldn't draw Hitler as a turtle ... So I drew him as King ... of the Pond ... He wanted to be king as far as he could see. So he kept piling them up. He conquered Central Europe and France, and there it was.' ("Dr. Seuss at 75: Grinch, Cat in Hat, Wocket and Generations of Kids in His Pocket". The Washington Post May 21,1979, qtd. in Wikipedia).
There are many more examples of Seuss' use of political and social themes. Sarah Milroy's article "Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Subversion" (Globe and Mail November 22, 2003) provides a concise review of some of the major themes in his work.
His opposition to racism, environmental degradation and Cold War politics (see The Butter Battle Book) are admirable and his use of Freudian concepts of Id, Ego and Superego in the Cat in the Hat books is appealing and clever. However, critics have noted that his work is also marked by seeming lack of interest in women or girls. Alison Lurie notes in her essay, "The Cabinet of Doctor Seuss", the "typical Seuss hero is a small boy or male animal; when girls appear, they play silent, secondary roles." Lurie also points out that when female characters are fleshed out, it is often in a negative context, such as the bird Mayzie, who traps Horton into sitting on her egg while she flies off to Palm Beach, and the greedy and vain Gertrude McFuzz, who eats so many magic berries to increase the size of her tail that she renders herself unable to walk (New York Review of Books, December 20, 1990 ).
If you're interested in finding out more about Seuss' writing and art from a cultural or educational perspective, you might enjoy one of the following articles. ***Username & password needed for home access. See a friendly GBS Librarian for details.***
Ingalls, Zoe. "The Cat in the Hat, The Butter Battle Book, and other Soupcons of Seuss!" The Chronicle of Higher Education. 28 Jul 1993. Platinum Periodicals. ProQuest. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.
Juchartz, Larry R. "Team Teaching with Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein in the College Basic Reading Classroom." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 47. 4 (Dec. 2003 - Jan. 2004): 336-341. JSTOR. Web. 25 Feb. 2010
Wolosky, Shira. "Democracy in America: By Dr. Seuss." Southwest Review 85.2 (2000): 167-183. Platinum Periodicals. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.
Other interesting websites:
Art of Dr. Seuss
Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss
The Political Doctor Seuss (PBS Independent Lens)