Caterpillar Becomes Butterfly
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(permanent link) added: 2011-10-26 19:05:13 sponsor: PapercutChainsaw edited by: timharrod (last reply: 2013-01-18 10:10:08)

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Any story that involves a caterpillar will end with the caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

The metamorphosis event itself is not remarkable, since it is, of course, a Truth in Television. However, what is interesting is that the life cycle of other animals that undergo metamorphasis is not featured nearly as prominently in fiction. Why do we rarely see cartoons about tadpoles growing into frogs? Where are all the picture books about the Very Hungry Maggot?

A possible explanation is the symbolism associated with butterflies. We tend to consider them more beautiful, elegant creatures, and the idea that something as ugly and clumsy as a caterpillar can become one appeals to our imagination.

Some stories choose to follow the caterpillar's point of view as it goes through metamorphosis.

Others, however, particularly animated series, will have a young or naive character adopt a pet caterpillar, only to later "lose" it, and spend the episode worrying about it. At the end, their pet is revealed to have miraculously undergone metamorphosis in the space of twenty minutes, becoming a butterfly. The young character then learns about this wonder of nature. (This is a good episode to have if you want to pass your show off as "educational").

Examples

Literature

Film

Western Animation
  • An episode of SpongebobSquarepants parodies this. Spongebob's pet caterpillar becomes a butterfly, but Spongebob assumes that the butterfly is a monster that ate his pet, and is utterly terrified of it for most of the episode. We even get treated to Gross Up Close Ups of a real life butterfly to make it appear scary.
  • At the end of A Bug's Life, Heimlich the caterpillar emerges from a crysalis, looking exactly the same except for a tiny pair of butterfly wings that he can't even fly with. He is overjoyed nonetheless.
  • The 1967 Czech cartoon <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs9nlPJmoZE">Sametka</a>, released in the U.S. as "Caterpillar."
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