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Reasons Anthropomorphism Improves The Novel Maus

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Maus by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel about a son listening to his father’s experience during the holocaust. The story is a very serious subject, so drawing real looking humans can make people not want to read the book. This is why Spiegelman uses anthropomorphism. If a reader sees an animal, it won’t look as bad and as serious as if it was a drawing a person. The anthropomorphism is also good because the animals symbolize how cats hunt down mice. It is showing how the Germans are hunting down the Jews. Some people think that it is disrespectful to draw races as different animals, but Spiegelman still respects the event and takes it seriously. Art Spiegelman’s use of anthropomorphism helps the story because it makes the story easier to understand because the reader can easily identify the characters, it shows a harsh subject in a lighter manner, it symbolises how animals hunt down other animals.

In Maus anthropomorphism is used to symbolize how cats hunt down mice. The Germans, shown as cats, are looking for and trying to kill the Jews who are shown as mice. The drawings are used to show different races and represent the ways they act. The Jews were shown as mice because they were seen as a lesser race and weak. Art Spiegelman said, “Jews as mice—or rather rats—swarming in a sewer, with a title card that said ‘Jews are the rats’ or the ‘vermin of mankind.’ This made it clear to me that this dehumanization was at the very heart of the killing project,” (Spiegelman). This quote explains why Art Spiegelman decided to draw the Jews as mice. People believed that Jewish people were at the bottom of mankind. Mice are considered to be weak and on the bottom of the food chain, so Spiegelman drew Jews as mice because it symbolizes being weak and being a vermin to society.

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The next reason anthropomorphism helps the story is that it shows a harsh subject in a light manner. Showing people as animals makes it easier for people to read. If Spiegelman drew everyone as humans, it would be harder for younger people to read because they would see drawings of dead people. On the other hand, seeing dead mice isn’t as bad. In an article about Maus and how animals were used it says, “When his father tells the story about the hanging of 4 Jews who were dealing in the food coupon black market that grew in Nazi-constructed Jewish ghettos, Spiegelman shows the mice hung for public display,” (Demarco). This quote describes a part in the book. Seeing a drawing of humans hung would be hard for many people to see. Most people would find it disturbing. Drawing the people as mice softens the blow of the harsh reality. Drawing Jews as mice makes it easier for people to look at while still being accurate and showing what went on in real life. This is how anthropomorphism shows a harsh subject in a lighter manner.

The last reason why anthropomorphism makes the story more enjoyable for readers is that it is easy to tell the different races apart. With races as different animals, when one is drawn you can easily tell where they are from and what race they are. In the book, Vladek puts on a pig mask to blend in with the polish people. This makes it easy for the reader to tell how they are blending in and how they are not getting caught. At one point, they are realized and in the book it says, “‘There’s a Jew in the courtyard! Police!’ An old which recognized Anja from her window,” (Spiegelman 137). The woman yelling this is drawn as a pig so you know immediately that she is polish. This provides context as to why she is calling for police about a Jew because you know how polish people feel about Jews. If she was drawn as a human you would not know why she cares of if she is German. Anthropomorphism helps the story because you are able to tell all the different races apart easily based on what animal they are drawn as.

In conclusion, Maus is a book written by Art Spiegelman based on a true story about a Jewish person and how they are trying to escape the Germans. The book uses anthropomorphism to improve the story and make it more enjoyable for the reader. Spiegelman acknowledges that this is a serious subject and should not be taken lightly but anthropomorphism makes a harsh subject lighter and easier to read. Anthropomorphism helps the story because readers can easily tell the difference of all the races, makes a harsh subject lighter, and to symbolize how Germans are constantly hunting down the Jews.

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Reasons Anthropomorphism Improves The Novel Maus. (2021, September 22). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from
“Reasons Anthropomorphism Improves The Novel Maus.” Edubirdie, 22 Sept. 2021,
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