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Literature / Winnie-the-Pooh

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Winnie-the-Pooh is a British children's book written in 1926 by author A. A. Milne. The original book of stories was, famously, inspired by Milne's son Christopher Robin Milne and Christopher's assortment of stuffed animals, including a teddy bear that became Winnie-the-Pooh, a tiger that became Tigger, and a donkey that became Eeyore. Pooh and his friends live in a Forest inspired by Ashdown Forest in Sussex, where Milne had a cottage. (In the Disney version it is known as the Hundred Acre Wood, but in the original books the Hundred Acre Wood is just one section of the Forest.) Pooh, his friends, and his best friend Christopher Robin have many adventures.

The first book had a sequel released in 1928 titled The House at Pooh Corner. Two books of poems — When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six — include several poems about Winnie-the-Pooh and friends.


For the many adaptations of these books, go this way.

Christopher Robin Milne's original stuffed animals have been preserved and are on public display. (With the exception of Roo, who was lost in an apple orchard around 1930.)

The first book is in the public domain in the U.S. and can be read here.

Winnie-the-Pooh provides example of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: Pooh lives in a house with the name "Sanders" over it, despite none of the characters being able to read or spell very well. Piglet lives beside a sign that says "Trespassers W[ill Be Prosecuted]". Christopher Robin lives in a tree and his parents are missing. What happened to all the other humans in the area? Why did they leave?
  • Alternate Catchphrase Inflection: Discussed in "A Search is Organdized", when Winnie the Pooh asserts that when a heffalump catches someone, they say, "Ho-ho!" in a gloating sort of way. But if you hum, then they'll say it again, still in a gloating way but less sure of themselves and more surprised, then if you still hum, they'll try to say it a third time but "[turn] it awkwardly into a cough" because "it isn't ho-ho-ish anymore".
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  • Animal Stereotypes: Played straight with some characters (Tigger is just as strong and fierce as one could expect from a tiger), subverted with others (Owl appears to be the smartest animal in the forest, but he's actually a Know-Nothing Know-It-All).
  • Bad Mood Retreat: Eeyore has his Gloomy Place, where he hangs out a lot because he's often sad.
  • Beary Funny: Pooh, who is kind, naive, silly and goofy.
  • Big Eater: Pooh. He sure does love honey.
  • Big Good: Christopher Robin, the only human, whom the toy animals view as their leader.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Christopher Robin has to leave the Hundred Acre Wood for what is essentially the last time, since he is growing up and can no longer live out his childhood days in the blissful peace of the Wood. The last chapter revolves around his farewell, and last day spent playing with Pooh, who promises that he will always be waiting in the Hundred Acre Wood should he ever return.
  • Black Bead Eyes: E. H. Shepard draws most of the characters with these. Justified, as they are toys whose eyes could literally be made of beads.
  • Carrying a Cake: Pooh brings a jar of honey for Eeyore's birthday.
  • Catchphrase
  • Children Are Innocent
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Just about anyone besides Eeyore. Kanga's a bit more stable, too, if a little overprotective.
  • Counting Sheep: Pooh tries to put himself to sleep by counting Heffalumps, but every Heffalump takes a pot of his honey, and when "the five hundred and eighty-seventh Heffalumps were licking their jaws, and saying to themselves, 'Very good honey this, I don't know when I've tasted better', Pooh could bear it no longer".
  • Covered in Mud: Pooh covers himself with mud to disguise himself as a rain cloud to fool the bees while he gets their honey. The bees aren't fooled.
  • Cruel Elephant: The Heffalumps are depicted as elephant-like creatures on the illustrations. They are said to be malevolent beings, though their villainy mostly consists of stealing honey. That said, Piglet is utterly terrified of them. Fortunately for Pooh and his friends, everything indicates that they are just imaginary.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: "Don't you know what ther means?"
  • Deadpan Snarker
    • Eeyore is good at this, much more so than in the Disney version.
    • Rabbit has a couple of moments as well.
  • Distressed Dude: Piglet, in the chapter in which he's Entirely Surrounded by Water
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Piglet, Owl, and Rabbit. Played with for Kanga, Roo, and Tigger. Even Pooh is sometimes referred to as "Bear". It's pointed out in the book that his real name is Edward Bear, and Winnie-the-Pooh is just his nickname. (Christopher Robin Milne actually called his stuffed bear Edward. His father got the name "Winnie" from a popular bear at the London Zoo.)
  • Dumb Is Good: Winnie-the-Pooh, a bear of "Very Little Brain", and the sweetest, gentlest creature you'll ever meet.
  • The Eeyore: Trope Namer. Eeyore is perpetually sad, although he can be cheered up sometimes, like when Pooh gives him a pot for his birthday.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: All chapter titles. The first one of the first book was called "In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees and the Stories Begin", for crying out loud.
  • Exercise Excuse: In "Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle", Piglet jumps because he is nervous, then tries to cover it up by jumping more times to make it seem like he is exercising.
  • Fearless Fool: Piglet confesses to being afraid when carrying out the escape from Owl's fallen home, and is assured that makes him even more courageous.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Both Rabbit and Owl tend to act smart, but are actually just as scatterbrained as the other characters. The others still treat them as if they were the smartest.
  • Fish out of Water: Tigger in the beginning has a hard time fitting in with the rest of the animals, but eventually finds his place and the others (except for Rabbit) grow fond of him.
  • Foul Medicine: In The House at Pooh Corner, Roo is often given malt extract as "strengthening medicine", and he's said to think it tastes awful. Tigger, on the other hand, turns out to love it, and he eats it for him.
  • Framing Device: The Narrator (A.A. Milne himself) telling his son Christopher Robin bedtime stories, set in the real world where Pooh is a toy.
  • A Friend in Need
  • Functional Addict: Man, Pooh really likes honey. In one story Pooh decides to give Eeyore a pot of honey when finding out that it's Eeyore's birthday. Pooh winds up eating all the honey on the way, and giving Eeyore a Very Useful Pot instead.
  • Ghibli Hills: The Forest in which all the characters live.
  • Going in Circles: In one story Pooh thinks he is tracking the footprints of a monster, when he is actually following his own footprints in the snow.
  • Growing Up Sucks: The end of The House at Pooh Corner, when Christopher Robin has to say goodbye to his toys, since he's not allowed to do "nothing" anymore.
  • Hates Baths: Piglet. When he gets washed by Kanga, the first thing he does is look for a puddle to roll around in.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: It's somewhat impressive that a character named "Pooh" has managed to endure as long as it has with the same name, since the connotations of the word have changed a lot since the original book was printed. Probably because the toilet humor version is spelled differently. The News Quiz, however, was highly amused with a branding magazine talking about kids having "Pooh on their pyjamas, and Pooh on their facecloths". "Pooh" as an expression of contempt or annoyance still exists in the English language, even if it's not as commonly used as it once was.
    • In France, "Pooh" is how the word "Pou", meaning "Louse" is pronounced. Now, nowadays, this is inconsequential, since he's mostly known under the alias of "Winnie l'ourson", but there was a time where some "Winnie the Pooh" merchandise (mostly toys) were branded under the name "Winnie LE Pooh" (Not even "Winnie the Pooh" mind you, it really was "le pooh"). Who wouldn't want a cute plushie of Winnie the Louse?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Pooh and Piglet. (Although, seeing as the book contains nothing even vaguely resembling sexuality or romance, it's more like Asexual Life Partners.)
  • Hufflepuff House: Rabbit's friends-and-relations, who often get mentioned but don't get much characterization.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Tigger wasn't introduced until the second Winnie-the-Pooh book and is now one of the most popular and recognizable characters from the franchise.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: See Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Improbable Food Budget: Where Pooh gets the massive amount of honey is never explained (especially since the only time he's shown trying to get more, at the Honey Tree, he's not particularly good at it).
  • Intentional Mess Making: Tigger knocks over a chair on purpose after seeing Roo accidentally knock one over.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Milne's chapters all have titles like "In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place."
  • Ironic Echo: "Oh, Tigger, I am glad to see you," cried Rabbit.
  • Irritation Nightmare: In the story "Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water", Pooh's house is flooded with cold rainwater, and the cold goes into his dreams, but the dream renders it as Woozles stealing his fur while he's in the cold East Pole.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: Averted with Kanga and Roo, who, despite being kangaroos, are never implied to be Australian. Several audiobooks abide by this trope however.
  • Karma Houdini: The first book's chapter "In which Kanga and Roo Come to the Forest", Rabbit drags Pooh and Piglet into his kidnapping attempt on Roo, and leaves Piglet at Kanga's mercy. Rabbit and Pooh quickly become friends with the two, while Piglet decides to keep his distance and stay with Christopher Robin.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The second book's chapter "In which Tigger is Unbounced" has Rabbit drag Pooh and Piglet into another vindictive scheme involving getting Tigger lost in the woods to take his exuberance down a notch. While Tigger, and eventually Pooh and Piglet easily make their way back home, a lost and traumatised Rabbit ends up rescued by Tigger.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: Pooh intends to give Eeyore a jar of honey... and then absentmindedly eats the honey. Eeyore doesn't actually like honey, but he's very happy to be given the empty jar.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Owl (making him thereby a subversion of The Owl-Knowing One) and Rabbit.
  • Literal-Minded and Malaproper: Everything, being based on children's logic. For example, the idea that Pooh living "under the name of Sanders" means that he has the word written above his door.
  • Living Toys: All of the main cast, with the exception of Christopher Robin (who is a child who owns the toys) and possibly Rabbit and Owl (who are implied to be actual animals rather than toys).
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Pooh has "You never can tell with [plural noun]."
  • Manchild: Tigger, despite being one of the largest members of the gang, is playful and irresponsible.
  • Not Where They Thought:
    • Story only. In "In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents", Piglet falls over and bursts the balloon he's meaning to give to Eeyore. He doesn't realize that the noise was the balloon popping and thinks he's blown up and been transported to the moon.
    • In "In Which a Search is Organdized [sic] and Piglet Nearly Meets the Heffalump Again", Pooh and Piglet fall into a pit and think it's a trap dug by a Heffalump. It isn't, and neither is it the pit they dug back in "In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump"— it's a separate pit called the Gravel Pit.
  • Old Windbag: Owl will often go into lengthy, boring rants about pretty much anything.
  • Once Upon a Time: "...a very long time ago, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Pooh, pretending to be a little black raincloud. In his defense, he's trying to fool insects. They aren't fooled, though.
  • Parental Bonus: Many of the jokes will go straight over your average five-year-old's head—while the adult reading the book aloud has a hard time keeping a straight face.
  • Picky Eater: Tigger doesn't like honey, haycorns, thistles, or pretty much anything Pooh and his friends offer to him. He finally settles with extract of malt, which was meant to be a strengthening medicine for Roo.
  • The Power of Friendship: A major theme. The friendship between Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet and the rest of the gang is what drives the story.
  • Primal Fear: Piglet has all sorts of phobias.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Many of the jokes in the books are fueled by these.
  • Second-Person Narration: Thanks to the Framing Device of Milne making up stories for Christopher Robin, the first chapter is told from the "you" point of view with Christopher Robin as a character. Afterward, this is abandoned.
  • Signs of Disrepair: The sign over Piglet's door, reading "Trespassers W", which he claims is short for the name of his grandfather, Trespassers William, or Trespassers Will for short. It's likely that the sign actually read "Trespassers will be shot", or, in modern times: "Trespassers will be prosecuted."
  • Smorgasbord Test: In "In Which Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast", Tigger arrives in the forest and Pooh invites him to breakfast. Tigger can talk but doesn't know what his favourite food is, so Pooh offers him honey, Piglet offers him acorns (or "haycorns" as he calls them), Eeyore offers him thistles, and Kanga offers him many different things. He doesn't like any of them until he tries some extract of malt.
  • Sneeze Interruption: Parodied when Owl says, "issue a reward" and Winnie the Pooh thinks he'd sneezed in the middle of his sentence.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Honey for Pooh. Many of the other animals also eat one food almost exclusively - "haycorns" for Piglet, thistles for Eeyore, Roo's extract of malt for Tigger, etc, although they don't match the normal foods for their species.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: This was A.A. Milne's explanation for why Eeyore is depressed.
  • Sweet Tooth: Pooh has a big appetite for honey.
  • Think Nothing of It: In the last chapter of the first book, Christopher Robin starts his speech at the party, and Eeyore starts this — before Christopher Robin manages to get it in that it's for Pooh.
  • Token Houseguest: Tigger is shown to be living with Kanga and Roo despite not being related.
  • The Village Idiot: Deconstructed. Pooh is the self-proclaimed "bear of very little brain" of the Hundred Acre Wood, and does often act the part. However the entire wood is a Cloudcuckoo Land, with others such as Rabbit and Owl who are regarded (self-enforced) as wise and sensible animals of the wood being outdone by Pooh's Simple-Minded Wisdom (of course, he rarely realises he is outsmarting anyone, and so Hilarity Ensues anyway).
  • You Say Tomato: Being based on the playacting of a little boy, this is rather common. Notable examples include Woozles (weasels), Heffalumps (elephants), Jagulars (jaguars), Eeyore (Onomatopoeia for the braying of a donkey), Tigger (tiger) and Winnie the Pooh himself (based on Winnipeg, a bear at the London Zoo).
  • Zany Scheme: Several, including Pooh's plans to steal honey and catch a "Heffalump", and Rabbit's plans to kidnap Roo and "unbounce" Tigger.

Alternative Title(s): The House At Pooh Corner