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Customer Review

108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Young Person's Guide to Individuation, 28 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Mr. Happy (Mr. Men Classic Library) (Paperback)
In his third work, Mr Happy, Hargreaves takes us on a Jungian journey to the integrated self.

The story starts by introducing us to the supposedly perfect life that our eponymous hero appears to live - the tranquilized bliss and counterfeit euphoria of Happyland. Yet what is it that leads Mr Happy to wander away from an existence that, if truly flawless, should suffice to satisfy and sustain him? Why this need to venture deep into the mysterious unknown of the forest? To open a door in a tree-trunk and descend a staircase beneath the ground to the deepest recesses of the unconscious?

Here lays the crux of this exploration of analytical psychology - the defining happiness of our central character is revealed as nothing more than a persona. His name and outward appearance are a mask to the outside world and from himself. It is the very inauthenticity of this state of affairs that drives him on the voyage to seek out and confront the root of the dissonance that this generates within him.

For indeed, what does he come face-to-face with at the foot of these stairs but his own repressed sadness? This comes in the form of his miserable alter ego - physically identical, polar opposite in mood. It is only through this confrontation with the shadow that his unsustainable persona can find authentic resolution and true integration of the self be achieved. These archetypes are quite literally brought to light as Mr Happy coaxes Mr Miserable up to the surface and into view of the conscious mind in a climax of now genuine peace and bliss.

In a knowing nod to his source material, Hargreaves depicts Mr Happy as round - a shape he shares with the mandala.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Mar 2011 22:01:41 GMT
A. Stark says:
Jung but easily Freudened.

Posted on 1 Jun 2012 22:25:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Jun 2012 22:27:31 BDT
DeeAndJay says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2012 14:35:58 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 12 Jul 2012 14:36:19 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2012 13:15:58 GMT
Frank Lee says:
You could be a genius Little Miss - but then again...

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2013 12:55:00 GMT
Helen Ayres says:
Haha, Little Miss. An object lesson in Completely Missing The Freaking Point.

Also, what on earth does 'for intents and supposes' mean - do you mean 'to all intents and purposes'?

Hamilton, your reviews are hilarious and a joy to read.

If you ever stop, I shall deploy a Paddington Hard Stare in your direction ;o)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Mar 2013 17:06:12 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 21 Mar 2013 17:06:39 GMT]

Posted on 16 Oct 2013 17:13:43 BDT
Doug says:
Candidly I find the Jungian envelope, into which Mr Happy is somewhat unceremoniously stuffed, to be rather ragged at the seams.

Clearly a Levinasian lens is more appropriate here, in which the Other is not knowable, ie, cannot be made into "object by the self" via traditional Kantian ontology - indeed, first philosophy must be derived from the experience of the encounter with the Other. This epiphany of the Face-to-Face encounter - in this case the Face of Mr. Miserable - is at once sublime and contradictory - as the Other's cloying proximity and vast distance are felt equally strongly. As Mr. Miserable reveals himself in his alterity, as "the primordial phenomenon of greatness", he makes an a priori demand - that Mr. Happy (ie the self) must instantly recognise his utter heteronomy and indeed transcendence.

In the face of this, it is ontologically impossible for Mr. Happy even to commit murder. To meet the (Miserable) Other is to have the idea of ungraspable infinity, and to murder infinity is manifestly absurd. So then! If the murder of Other is impossible, then what are the alternatives for Mr. Happy in this encounter? There is only one: to devote every facet of his very Being to improving Mr. Miserable's happiness and general mental health.

In this manner, the primacy of ethics, even over existence itself, is deftly revealed by Mr. Hargreaves, and it is a sickeningly negligent review that does not explore this, the very crux of the book. Shame on you, Mr. Richardson.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2013 08:18:52 GMT
Doug, such is the genius of your Levinasian riposte that I am compelled to break my silence and acknowledge that my own Jungian analysis has been well and truly eclipsed.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2014 11:08:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Nov 2014 08:40:16 GMT
Hexameron says:
If Mr. Happy were retold as an Aesop fable called "The Two men of Eudaimonia", you wouldn't dismiss these wonderful insights so quickly. Don't you realise that what is superficially a children's story can have deeper meaning? - it's how children have been taught about morality, emotions, and the people and world around them for centuries.

That's the beauty of these reviews: whilst humorously juxtaposing a children's story with the language of philosophical thought, they actually do expose some of the deeper messages behind the Mr. Men stories. It would make a great start to a lesson on the thinking of the philosophers/psychoanalysts mentioned. Without a doubt, the best thing I've read online for a while.

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 11:58:02 GMT
Garden Bird says:
Crying with laughter - just genius, thanks!
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