Anthropomorphism and Its Influence in the Dumbo Story

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Word count 5551
Read time 20 min
Topic Literature
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US


The situation when different objects in art, literature, or cultural rites, are depicted as having human-like traits, called anthropomorphism, is typical for humanity. The film Dumbo and the book on which it is based are examples of using anthropomorphic elements in art. Throughout the action, they depict animal-sentient traits and highlight the importance of ethics in human and human-animal relations. The role of anthropomorphism is much broader: it exists in all elements of people’s behavior and resulted in the development of human culture.

Dumbo Film and Its Ideas

Film’s Plot

Dumbo is a 2019 magical realism film produced by Tim Burton; it is based on the twentieth-century child book about the big-eared elephant that could fly. The film starts by showing the train with elements from the circus, such as shots with newspapers advertising the performances. Those are hints pointing out that the circus will be the main topic of Dumbo. Holt Farrier, the main human hero, armless after World War I, arrives on the train and faces children who are happy to meet him but become very sad seeing him disabled. The Medici circus hires him to care for the pregnant elephant, Mrs. Jumbo, from their circus and care for their animals in the future. After the calf elephant is born, it is revealed that his ears are enormous, which disturbs Medici.

They decided to sell Mrs. Jumbo and hide the calf called Dumbo, the film’s main animal hero. Max Medici, the circus chief, is annoyed by Dumbo’s ears, thinking that people will not love him, despite some staff members saying they can find him handsome. Then they decided to perform while hiding Dumbo’s ears; at the same time, Holt’s children befriended him. However, in the very first performance, Dumbo reveals his ears, and Medici’s fears turn out to be correct. The spectators started to mock the animal and threw peanuts and other things at him, annoyed by his big ears. His mother becomes enraged by such wrong human behavior and causes destruction, trying to defend her calf. Holt’s children also reveal that Dumbo has magical abilities: he can fly with his big ears.

After that, the Medici circus was employed in Vandevere’s Dreamland, a prominent entertainment park in New York City. There were intentions that the Dumbo’s performances with him flying would have considerable success. However, the first exhibition was a failure: Dumbo flew to his mother, and the public became disappointed and started to lament. Vandevere was annoyed and fired the Medici circus from his Dreamland. Even more, he was enraged with the animal’s disobedience and intended to euthanize Mrs. Jumbo. When Holt acknowledged it, he argued that the Medici troop must stop Vandevere. They went to the Dreamland and rescued both Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo, distracting Vandevere and his staff. Both elephants flew away, and then the troop’s members embarked on the ship to India. The film ends by showing the successful and happy Medici circus performing: Holt’s daughter shows scientific experiments, which impresses the public. At the same time, Dumbo is shown flying in the Indian jungles among other elephants: he and his mother are happy too.

Film’s Ideas

This film is the remake of the 1941 film, which is based on the child book describing the elephant Dumbo with big ears and the mouse Timothy. They become best friends; this episode is portrayed in the film too, but it is not central there. The main idea of Dumbo is the story of human’s kindness which reveals itself in the polite and careful treatment of other humans and animals. The elements of anthropomorphism are used when portraying circus animals: their intelligence is highlighted, and their behavior is shown as having free will in its basis. It is visible when showing the circus monkeys, which show a significant level of understanding and playfulness. One can see it even more when portraying Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo, who are aware of the situation and behave almost consciously. They are cruel to those who mistreat them but lovely and kind to those who are kind to them.

The treatment of animals is another essential idea highlighted in the film. There are episodes from the very beginning: when one of the circus’s workers is rude to the elephant Mrs. Jumbo, Holt beats him in the face to force him to stop when she gives birth to the calf. Next, Dumbo, her calf, undergoes mistreatment for his giant ears, which are considered abnormal; it extremely enrages Mrs. Jumbo. Then, when Holt, his children, and other Medici Circus members defend elephants, it is clearly shown that they are grateful and help them in return.

Influence of Anthropomorphism

From the beginning of humanity, people tended to attribute human-like traits to non-human beings, from animals to weather. It is considered an inherited human trait that is always present (Kelen and You 23). Anthropomorphism in primitive societies led to gods, intelligent animals, and other characters typical of myths, legends, and fairy tales. Those are examples of anthropocentrism when everything is considered connected with humans. Then, it developed into religions, philosophies, and political ideologies, which helped humans know the world better and organize their societies. Modern science also evolved from anthropomorphism: it started when people tried to look at the world objectively, cleaning their view from anthropocentric biases (Dacey 1166). Still, while anthropocentrism is the result of anthropomorphism, it is not the only result.

Anthropomorphism is typical for people: when looking at the outside world and facing its process, humans think they have some reasons behind them. It is common in everyday life, especially for children and members of primitive tribes (Kelen and You 23). Anthropomorphism is used widely in films and other art; the example is Dumbo, where animals are shown as sentient beings with personalities, desires, and inclinations. It positively influences human societies as it develops empathy, cooperation, mutual understanding, and kindness in general (Manfredo et al. 6; Wang and Basso 163). In that way, along with cognitive biases, anthropomorphic thinking creates the culture and its consequences, such as religion, philosophy, ethics, social ideas, and scientific inquiry.

Reasons for Using Anthropomorphism

The ideas and influence of anthropomorphism are why it is often introduced to various art pieces, products, and other objects. There is evidence that it is natural for people to see and imply human traits in the world around them in their interactions with the world (Kelen and You 23). Today, one can specify four reasons for using anthropomorphism: for entertainment, aesthetical, political, or social purposes, which are often interconnected.


Animals are cool; people usually feel tenderness when seeing cute animals, which is one of the main reasons animal images are widely used in the media. Attractive photos and descriptions of animals increase empathy in humans and make them more sensible (Wang and Basso 155). One can easily resemble many pictures, posts, and internet memes with animals as central characters. Such content is amusing, entertaining, and thus, extremely popular and even viral.

Another side seems to be directly opposite to the former: animals are depicted as strange, alien, and dangerous. There are many stories where animals take the role of carnivorous creatures, ready to devour everybody who dares to go on their territory (Kelen and You, ch. 4). Such pseudo-horror stories are usually not really terrifying but amusing. They depict someone who goes to the wild, despite all precautions not to do this, and end up being eaten by some carnivore or, at least, virtually being eaten but managing to escape. Such images are used purely for entertainment purposes or educational ones: to show children how they should not behave.

Anthropomorphic animals are widespread in child literature: most of the examples mentioned above, with talking or dangerous animals, are written for kids. There is evidence that kids are animistic: they anthropomorphize everything around them, thinking that things are conscious, and then develop their understanding of the world based on those beliefs (Kelen and You, ch. 1). There are many nonsenses or seemingly nonsense literature and verses, such as Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky, written for children and aimed at entertaining them (Kelen and You, ch. 3). In addition to the entertainment, such literature, especially witty written, increases children’s ability to understand the world. They are also often used for education: animals from children’s books are depicted as wise and explain such concepts as mathematics or human relations. In that way, anthropomorphism is widely used in entertainment, especially in child literature, where it also has educational aims.


Along with child literature, implementing human-like traits in different objects is a common motif in art in general. Animals are often seen as graceful beings and are described in the corresponding matter; sometimes, they are depicted as primitive “child-like” creatures which can be civilized, such as in the story of Winnie-the-Pooh (Kelen and You 180). Sometimes they are shown in human form or as human-animal hybrids. In other cases, they left animals, such as in the film Dumbo. However, special attention is paid to their abilities to think, perceive information, and behave according to their free will and other conscious manifestations. Animals are occasionally shown as having supernatural or magical properties; in Dumbo, the elephant, the main hero, could fly. It is perhaps connected with the primitive perception of the animals as some mystical beings.

Different writers used anthropomorphism at various times to express their idea via sentient animal images and characters. The prominent examples are the short stories by Miguel de Servantes and the novels by James Joyce (Federici 82). In The Dialogue of the Dogs, Servantes describes two dogs talking with each other: they tell their personal stories to each other. In Ulysses Joyce’s novel, the author describes animals in a way that their distinctions from humans are blurred; he was influenced by Servantes’ stories when using this approach (Federici 85). For example, the primary novel’s hero, Bloom, talks with his cat as if it were human, showing consciousness and empathy. In Dumbo, a similar approach is used: animals’ behavior is portrayed as principally similar to humans’ one. In that way, anthropomorphism is used in literature to show animals as full-fledged characters, highlighting their sentience and common origin with humans.

The anthropomorphism usage in art is wider: many literature examples introduce human traits not only to animals but even to plants. For example, the motif of transformation into the tree is common in Latin American novels and poetry, which comes from Native American legends (Beverley and Castro-Klarén 135–136). As primitive people tended to assign consciousness to animals, volcanos, thunders, and other surroundings, they used those objects as the heroes of their myths and legends. One can understand anthropomorphism as the perception frame and the way of communication (Kelen and You 24). In that way, the art which presents human values in some explicit form or direct human traits in objects is considered anthropomorphic.


Aside from entertainment, amusement, and child literature, there are much more serious looks on anthropomorphism. Surprisingly, people with more conservative attitudes tend to buy goods with anthropomorphic traits (Chan 521). It is connected with their worldview: conservative people are more likely to rely on their feelings and be concerned about different life uncertainties. Anthropomorphizing reduces those uncertainties: they feel more comfortable and convenient when they see something humane in commodities. They can refer to such things as soulful, which are made with soul and for people.

Politicians often implement anthropomorphism of a different kind in their political agendas and agitations. They do not usually use cartoon-like art with speaking animals, but they refer to everything made for people and by people. Such discourse is anthropomorphic, as it implies human qualities in everything, from commodities, houses, and roadways to political ideologies. They are referred to as humane, intelligent, conscious, kind, and other qualities usually used to describe good people. The tendency to anthropomorphize is connected with less dominant and violent motivations and more inclination to cooperate (Manfredo et al. 6). Thus, anthropomorphism is used in political agendas to stimulate cooperation and promote democratic and humanitarian ideals.

Modern religions, philosophy, and even science are, in some way, successors of those primitive beliefs based on anthropomorphism. The ideas of humanism, human rights, and, more recently, animal rights, are based on the implication of the sentiency of humans and animals (Kelen and You, ch. 7). The idea of causing no harm to the world is, too, based on anthropomorphizing. A human considers everything as a part of something mindful and friendly and, thus, ceases to do any harm to the surrounding (Wang and Basso 163). It then develops into rational thinking, when causing damage is considered as something ineffective and wrong. This theory is the basis of modern democratic and capitalist states and societies.


As one can see, anthropomorphism has social importance: it brings specific ideas to the public. One of the main issues raised in Dumbo is the mistreating of animals. There is evidence that anthropomorphism reduces the tendency to eat meat in humans, as they start to think about animals as friends or just living beings (Wang and Basso 156). For example, they have seen small pigs and people playing with them, with cute captions. After that, they feel disgusted with the idea of eating pig meat; they even associate it with cannibalism. Interestingly enough, those results were not reproduced in the case of beef.

Recently, anthropomorphism on the web, in the form of art and internet posts, started to be heavily used by activists against the mistreatment of animals and climate change. They show that the wild world undergoes full extinction, called Anthropocene Extinction (Kelen and You, chs. 6–7). In that way, they encourage people to be more aware of their actions, and anthropomorphic ideas become the tools for raising the consciousness of humanity.

Anthropomorphism is connected with many other social ideas, such as the idea of humanism itself, not only in politics, as was already described, but in the day-to-day life of each civilized human. As people tend to humanize everything around them, they become much more empathetic and concerned about those they humanize; it follows their being kinder and more careful (Kelen and You 81). Despite being an illusion and the figment of the imagination, anthropomorphism plays a vital role in building relationships with the outer world. It is the part of human empathy which helps not cause harm to other living beings (Manfredo et al. 6). One can see that when anthropomorphizing, a person stops perceiving those things or animals as something outer; instead, it feels like some part of this person. In that way, it is no motivation for one to cause any harm, as it becomes equal to causing harm to oneself.

However, naïve anthropomorphism can be considered harmful for human inquiry: it hinders the ability to perceive reality as it is. It is perfectly illustrated by primitive societies, which create totems and deities based on their experience instead of understanding reality and how it actually works. It is suitable for the beginning, such as in children and primitive societies, as it is the initial expression of consciousness, curiosity, and the desire to explore the world (Kelen and You 189). Anthropomorphism, if not controlled, lead to anthropocentric biases which twist the way of perceiving reality (Dacey 1164). It is why, in older times, people thought that the Earth was the center of the world and humans were the top of nature.

The Main Themes of Anthropomorphism in ‘Dumbo’

Bullying as a Reaction to Dumbo

Bullying and personal abuse are some of the important social problems that can be traced in the world’s cultural heritage and work, including Dumbo. Bullying is defined as the abuse, violent dominance, or intimidation of another person by the use of pressure, compulsion, harsh taunting, or threat. The action is frequently repeated and regular, with one of the most important prerequisites being the sense (by the abuser or others) of an internal or external imbalance of power. Bullying may span from individual aggressive behavior to group abuse, also known as mobbing, in which the aggressor may have one or more “collaborators” eager to support the major bully in their negative behavior actions. Physical attack or compulsion, abusive language, or intimidation are examples of behaviors used to demonstrate dominance, and these acts may be continued against specific targets. Even in children’s cartoons, it is possible to find visual and, most importantly, life examples of bullying, which should be discussed as negative phenomenon.

As for the problem of bullying, in Dumbo‘s story, it is described and demonstrated on a fairly large scale. The main reason and factor of bullying in this work is disliking someone based on external characteristics. Bullying, which is generated and developed on the basis of ridiculing and insulting people because of their appearance, is widespread in the world. This happens since what a person sees in front of him can be quickly interpreted in words, meaning that there is no need to think about the disadvantages deeply. All the flaws and dissimilarities are obvious and observable in the first seconds of the meeting. Dumbo is a small elephant that has external features that are different from other members of his genus. Dumbo is best known for his enormous floppy ears, which let him fly through the air. The little elephant was subjected to numerous bullying and ridicule from the surrounding heroes due to its external features, namely very large ears.

In the situation of abuse based on appearance, it is possible to emphasize the peculiarity of the embodiment of people and human relations through heroes that are animals. In this scenario, the description of abusive and negative human relationships is clearly traced, which are placed in a plot frame where elephants and other animals are involved in the circus. The other elephants and animals purposefully and brutally exclude Dumbo, and he is later ‘adopted’ but tormented by the other performers. An interesting feature of these grievances and insults is that the baby elephant was the target of ridicule from the very beginning of the story. Other representatives of his family, elephants, did not doubt the need to start mocking the baby from the first moment when his peculiarity in appearance became known.

At the same time, it is valuable to mention other stereotypes that are signs of anthropomorphism. For example, gossiping elephant women, whose prototypes were women of that time who liked to gossip. The resemblance is especially evident in their clothing and image “Their elegantly caparisoned heads stand in for hats and feathers such women sportedin live-action movies” (Geist 7). Thus, they initially disliked little Dumbo because of his ears and laughed at him.

It should be noted that the big ears, at which others laughed, subsequently helped the elephant Dumbo. With the help of this physiological feature, Dumbo learned to soar in the air and fly, which other representatives similar to him could not. As for the effect and consequences of acquiring this unusual skill, Dumbo became a real sensation. What is remarkable, thanks to the ability to fly, he was able not only to glorify himself and find incredible success but also to enable his circus to significantly improve his reputation and recognition. In this case, we can conclude that the initial flaw in appearance, which became the reason for bullying, ultimately became a useful feature.

The problems of bullying, abuse, and harassment due to the appearance of the Dumbo elephant led to consequences of a protective nature. For example, it is possible to emphasize the fact that Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, did not hesitate to take the position of protecting her child from harm and bullying. Since the work itself is quite old, it describes a more conservative society with its own stable morals and concepts. In this context, it can be concluded that by protecting the object of abuse and bullying, one can easily appear in the same sphere and become a new target of bullying. However, these thoughts and warnings do not apply to the mother of the elephant Dumbo since she instantly began to react to ridicule from others. At the same time, Mrs. Jumbo protected her son from external threats, for example, bullying from the circus audience, and internal problems, for example, abuse that came from other elephants and members of the troupe.

Mother-child Relationship

Maternal love, care, as well as the relationship between children and parents is also some of the issues that are described throughout the story. It is significant to point out that motherhood was very sentimentalized in American culture before World War II. Then there was even the expression “as American as motherhood and apple pie”(Geist 5). Therefore, it could be argued that Dumbo represents the fact that American families often divorced, or children went to other cities in search of better jobs or education. In the same way that children were separated from their parents, so Dumbo was divided from his mother, but the elephant boy was able to fulfill the American dream of millions to become famous. Thus, on the one hand, the elephant boy loved his mother very much, just as any child would. Furthermore, on the other hand, it is quite possible that his separation from his mother contributed to the fact that he achieved significant success in the circus.

It is significant to remark that Mrs. Jumbo also immediately recognized that her son had an abnormal appearance, but she continued to love him. At first, this manifested itself in her playing and washing him, that is, worrying just like a normal human mother. At the same time, before her first appearance on stage, she supports Dumbo and is genuinely worried despite the others’ bullying. That is, Mrs. Jumbo experiences the full spectrum of a young mother’s emotions.

Based on Mrs. Jumbo’s reaction to the negative attitude towards her son, it can be concluded that the Dumbo elephant was largely lucky with its mother. Despite the potential threats and danger, she, protecting her baby, risked her reputation and her future, subsequently being placed in solitary confinement. The interesting thing to emphasize is that when everyone was laughing at Dumbo during the performance, Dumbo’s mother ran out on stage and began to defend him. Thus, she completely crushed everything, the stage fell, and people ran out of the circus (Isojärvi 37). This demonstrates that the mother defended her child and hurt his greatest aggressors. Such an act is comparable to how ordinary mothers protect their innocent children and is one more example of the use of anthropomorphism in the book.

In this context, it is possible to emphasize a fairly accurate embodiment of human, and most importantly, family relationships through characters who are animals. Mrs. Jumbo shows herself exceptionally well, showing an example of motherly care, love, and devotion to her child. Dumbo is first and foremost about a mother’s love for her kid. There have been a number of amazing parent-child connections in movies, but the one between Mrs. Jumbo and tiny Dumbo is particularly moving. Mrs. Jumbo is Dumbo’s greatest defender, shielding him from the ridicule of the other creatures and circus patrons. The circus is a dreadful area to reside, and Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo have nothing but each other in the world.

Dumbo reached his mother’s cage, and they cuddled with their trunks. Dumbo wanted to stay with his mother and was frightened like any child. That is, the little elephant experienced human-like emotions because babies need their mothers all the time (Ju 189). The scene where Mrs. Jumbo soothes Dumbo from the limitations of her cage is crucial to remember. Mrs. Jumbo has been jailed for retaliating against circus visitors who mocked Dumbo, and the two are now divided permanently. However, in this time, when they are together, all of life’s pain and tragedy vanish away. All that’s left is love, which can and will keep them going.

Furthermore, Dumbo is about loving oneself, and personal choices are used to illustrate this component. Baby Dumbo is terribly hampered by his disproportionately huge ears. He cannot move, is continuously tortured, and is continually told of how strange he is. That is until he realizes that his uniqueness is what makes him unique. Many people would benefit from understanding Dumbo’s story: everybody is unique, but it’s only through learning to embrace those distinctions that they can progress.

Dumbo as a Means of Making a Profit

The problem of monetary relationships and the use of heroes as resources in order to achieve personal results is also a problematic plot in Dumbo’s work. A fairly vivid and clear example of the consequences of such use is the constant bullying of animals, which manifests itself in their long-term use as entertainment for the public. The circus, like any other institution of recreation, culture, and mass entertainment, sees its main goal as achieving a sufficient level of profit from ticket sales, with the aim of further material prosperity.

Therefore, in order to ensure an increase in the level of income and cash flows, it is necessary to both expand the audience, become more popular, and cut costs, reducing expensive purchases. It is significant to mention that even Dumbo’s friend also uses him to enrich himself “As Dumb’s manager, Timothy is quick to capitalize on his friend’s talent, and Dumb’s success translates into material wealth: at the end of the movie he and his mother ridein their own luxury railroad car” (Geist 5). Thus, it is possible to identify such features of capitalism as the personal benefit of the circus director and other troupe members, which was due to the fact that more tickets were sold because many people wanted to see Dumbo.

There is also an element of satire in the book on 20th century America, where capitalism is gradually devouring private business, forcing the abandonment of ambition in favor of large corporations. That is, it can be noted that the circus industry was becoming increasingly popular thanks to one flying elephant (Sammond 150). However, Dumbo, at first, did not dream of fame or success. He only wanted to be treated well and have his mother come back. In the end, he had to work for the circus and the people who contributed to his discouragement, which was a glaring manifestation of the system of capitalism.

Mistreatment of Animals

The history of using animals for entertainment is not new and has been around for centuries. Today the situation is altering for the better, and numerous organizations are actively opposing such exploitation for profit. Consequently, many circuses, zoos, or other equivalent establishments have adopted a welfare-oriented image and, in some cases, have stopped using animals altogether. As for literature and cinematography, WDAS first portrayed circuses in one of its earliest films, “Dumbo,” which was an adaptation of a book. It was inspired by one of Barnum’s famous elephants, Jumbo, the most successful circus attraction in American history. It was enormous and helped Barnum’s show earn nearly $350,000 in its first weeks (Ju 190). Although the film was released back in 1941, the use of animals was an extremely burning issue at the time. It highlights some common problems but avoids excessive criticism of the animal-using industry.

However, although the circus is a place of entertainment and laughter, it has another rather dark side. It has to do with exploitation and the conditions in which the animals are kept from show to show. The “Dumbo,” through its anthropomorphism and the voice of the animals, very gently hints that they should be spared because they deserve a happy life just as much as humans do. “Dumbo” is an allegory exposing the evil and cruelty of the so-called circus freak performance, an extremely popular and lucrative business in America in the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth (Ju 192). Elephant, born with pathologically gigantic ears dragging on the ground, was a freak until he took off. He is just as ugly as the Siamese twins, dwarfs, giants, and bearded women that were popular at the time.

Of particular note is when Dumbo and Timothy drink water from a bucket in which a bottle of champagne has accidentally fallen, causing them to become drunk and see hallucinations about pink elephants. It was a rather sad piece, depicting circus puppets’ despairing and hopeless realities, drowning their sorrows in alcohol and nursing a rosy dream of a better life in their clouded imagination. At the same time, despite the cruel treatment of the animals, the film interprets the events so that the circus is even glorified a bit.

The opening shows a circus ringmaster with a whip chasing a tiger; however, in the first scene, anthropomorphic storks deliver newborns covered in blankets to other animals held in captivity. The cages are quite small; nevertheless, their inhabitants feel relaxed and comfortable, some of them are smiling, and others are resting quietly. Furthermore, there are no lures or other unnatural forms of behavior from which real animals in captivity suffer. Moreover, during the parade, a gorilla accidentally breaks the cage’s bars, growling at the crowd. She is shocked by the breakage and obediently replaces them; the gorilla is happy to be in the cell and does so willingly. “It means that the wildness is merely a performance and that its natural state is domestication in a cage” (Stanton 173). The animals cannot be called enslaved; they are just part of the production.

The greatest and most obvious suffering is reserved for the main, but at the same time, the least anthropomorphic character because only he and his mother cannot speak. Therefore, they express everything, not in words but in certain emotions, such as crying. The separation of mothers and their cubs is common in almost all industries where animals are used. The moment of detachment is the most heartbreaking that touches so much that one loses the desire to support cruel establishments that continue to destroy animal families for profit (Ju 195). It demonstrates that animals have feelings, and they need to be heard. The humans in the film are much less evolved, which is a characteristic of anthropomorphism. They have no names and are mostly represented as shadows.

In addition to making an overt statement about animal rights, Dumbo also compromises the entire circus industry. It reveals the dark side of the circus, from the owner, who intends to use Dumbo, the elephant at all costs, to the humiliation and pain the animals experience when forced to perform ridiculous stunts. “After Dumbo is demoted to a clown and forced to jump a great distance off a springboard, the human clowns excitedly decide to make his jump even higher” (Stanton 177). Therefore, it became even more dangerous in order to impress the public. It goes to show that people do not care about the animals’ feelings; they do not consider the pain they cause.

Furthermore, Dumbo ends with a happy ending, but not a triumph in the global sense of the word. The elephant becomes a star, the mouse becomes his impresario, and they sign a high-paying contract with Hollywood. Circus life for Dumbo did not change fundamentally but only improved in quality. Thus, one cannot conclude that the film completely romanticizes the circus or the zoo since it also shows scenes of abuse. At the same time, Dumbo has not left it, and the text also eliminates some of the most common problems of using animals in entertainment, such as training.

In part of the paper, the main theme of anthropomorphism in “Dumbo” is established that the separation and cruel treatment of animals in the entertainment industry are among the key moments of “Dumbo.” Thus, the plot is comparable to actual historical events that took place before World War II in America. It is also possible to trace the emotions and feelings that are inherent in animals from humans. That is, the plot represents the exploitation of animals that people use for enrichment.


The film Dumbo is an example of using anthropomorphism in depicting the animals’ behavior. They are depicted as sentient creatures playing, defending their children, and consciously interacting with humans. They are kind to those who are kind to themselves and vengeful to those who harm. Circus members make free their elephants in the film’s finale, and they are shown happy, reunited with their wild relatives. Humans are delighted too: they continue their work in a circus while behaving with animals ethically and showing not only animal performances but, for example, scientific experiments conducted by Holt’s daughter.

In general, anthropomorphism is the inherited property of human beings: it affects all dimensions of life. It is not initially the belief, although it can be expressed in the form of worship. Instead, it is the quality of every person, the side effect of high consciousness level. It is widely used in art and literature for different purposes: children’s entertainment, pure aesthetics, and conducting the ideas of ethical relationships with the world. While anthropomorphism can lead to anthropocentrism and biases connected with it, it also stimulates the development of human consciousness. As people see sentient traits around them, they tend to become more ethical and understand their surroundings better. The development of anthropomorphic views resulted in modern religions, cultures, and philosophies, and cleaning them from anthropocentric biases resulted in contemporary science.

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EssaysInCollege. "Anthropomorphism and Its Influence in the Dumbo Story." January 4, 2023.