Little Shop of Horrors Jungian Analysis - Misha Harding

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Little Shop of Horrors Jungian Analysis - Misha Harding

Post  Misha2828 on Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:31 am

Little Shop of Horrors

Summary

Little Shop of Horrors, released in 1986, tells the story of Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy, unconfident and clumsy orphaned young man yearning for his coworker, Audrey, and working in a failing flower shop in Skid Row in 1960. After their boss, Mr. Mushnik, decides to close the shop due to lack of business, they decide to display a strange, interesting and unidentified plant that Seymour has found and named Audrey II. Business starts booming, but Seymour soon discovers that the plant needs blood to survive. It grows exponentially, until it starts talking and demands from Seymour not just blood, but entire people, in exchange for fame, fortune and Audrey.

Character Archetypes: The Devil Figure

The demonic character of Audrey II represents the character archetype of the devil figure. He gives Seymour fame, fortune and the girl of his dreams in exchange for blood. Seymour gives him his own blood until he has none left to give, at which point he moves beyond blood to bodies. He is almost moved to murder, but death occurs without his help. He doesn’t want to do bad things, but is entranced by what Audrey II offers, and is convinced that fame, fed by feeding the plant, is the only thing that Audrey loves about him. Although the majority of it was cut from the movie, there is an entire song in which Seymour debates with himself and describes these feelings of conflict. “You’ve got no alternative, Seymour, old boy. Though it means you’ll be broke again and unemployed. It’s the only solution. It can’t be avoided. The vegetable must be destroyed. But then there’s Audrey…” Audrey II controls Seymour’s entire life until Seymour finally defeats him.

Symbolic Archetypes: Good vs. Evil

The battle between Seymour and Audrey II represents the symbolic archetype of the battle between good and evil. Although Seymour is enticed onto the opposing side, he is the representative figure of good, while Audrey II is that of evil. Seymour is an everyday person who most people can relate to, as he is not perfect and doesn’t always make the best decisions, but is a decent person with good intentions. Audrey II is not even human; he’s an alien. He eats people to survive. He lies, he manipulates Seymour, he threatens him, and he wants his race to take over the world (that being a pretty classic sign of evil) and overall he seems to be a full-blown psychopath. He feels no remorse over what he’s doing; in fact he’s laughing for most of the movie, while at the same time doing horrific things.
People’s need for the satisfaction of good triumphing over evil despite unlikely odds is proven in the test audience’s reaction to the movie’s original ending. In the original, the ‘good’ characters die, while numerous Audrey IIs take over the world. Audrey is killed by Audrey II, and then fed to him, and Seymour contemplates committing suicide before losing in a battle against Audrey II and being eaten himself. The test audiences were horrified and disgusted by this ending, so the makers of Little Shop of Horrors made a new ending, in which Audrey II is killed, and Seymour and Audrey get married and live their ideal life happily ever after.

Situational Archetypes: The Quest

Prior to discovering Audrey II, Seymour is an innocent. He’s sweet, kind, loving, and puts everyone before himself. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. At first, Audrey II is a sickly, dying plant, and Seymour feels he needs to bring it back to health in order to maintain the increased positive attention that the shop is receiving as a result of it being in the window. Everything is well intentioned at this point. When his ministrations fail, Seymour discovers that what Audrey II needs to survive and thrive is blood – his specifically. The first few drops are symbolic; they represent Seymour’s loss of innocence. As the feeding continues, he relinquishes his soul. At this point, his quest to regain his innocence begins. There are obstacles in his way, mostly to do with himself. He doesn’t necessarily want the fame and fortune that come with feeding the plant, but he believes that they are the only things that Audrey loves about him. He doesn’t want to lose her in the process of finding his innocence, so continues to feed Audrey II. It isn’t until he saves Audrey herself from the mouth of the plant that he finds out that she has loved him all along, long before the fame, fortune, and Audrey II came along. Overcoming this obstacle, or realizing it wasn’t there to begin with, Seymour is now free to take on Audrey II and attempt to destroy him. At this point, he learns of Audrey II’s ultimate plan – to create more plant-like creatures like himself and take over the world. Seymour’s newfound confidence gives him the ability to defeat Audrey II. Life is restored to the way it always should have been, with Seymour and Audrey married, living together happily ever after, and in its simplicity he regains a new sense of innocence.

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Little Shop of Horrors Response

Post  Stefantill on Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:28 am

Hey Misha,

This essay is very structured and very well done, good job! Everything fits into place perfectly and I would like to add another character archetype that I was able to find in this movie. Orin Scrivello (The Dentist) had many trait of the Trickster archetype, whenever he sees Seymour, he constantly does whatever he can to make trouble with him and halt the progress of the story. So what does Seymour do to stop this? He feeds him to his plant. Good analysis Misha!

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Re: Little Shop of Horrors Jungian Analysis - Misha Harding

Post  ellynhokeefe on Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:10 pm

Great analysis, Misha! Everything that you mentioned in your review fits perfectly. I think that Seymour could be the hero archetype not only because of his battle with Audrey II but also because the audience knows very little about Seymour's past. In the song "Skid Row" he informs us that he was, "a child of the street" and an orphan. This mysterious upbringing fits with the hero archetype.
Secondly, Audrey is definitely a damsel in distress. She is always always dependent on someone, particularly the man in her life. In the song "Suddenly Seymour", she sings "I'd meet a man and I'd follow him blindly. He'd snap his fingers, me, I'd say sure." She spends the first half of the film with her abusive boyfriend who she is unable to leave. Instead of leaving him, Seymour kills Orin Scrivello and comes to her aid. Audrey II then uses Audrey as a trap to get the attention of Seymour once Seymour has made the final decision to leave Audrey II.
It would have been interesting if Frank Oz had decided to keep the original ending where both Audrey and Seymour are eaten by Audrey II. That would cemented those two archetypes, especially the hero archetype for Seymour. Not only would Audrey II's trap with the help of Audrey would have worked, the death of Seymour would have definitely fit the hero archetype. It is a significant, unusual death and the body is never retrieved or buried.

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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:11 pm

Misha - a unique choice and a wonderful analysis. Thanks! My only question is: Given how Audrey is a Devil figure and we essentially have the Faust story being retold in Little Shop - how would the Nature vs. Mechanistic World archetype be applied? Nature in this case is being represented as being demonic. Is there an equivalent mechanistic device/world that is seen as angelic, thereby providing an inversion of the usual archetype?
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Re: Little Shop of Horrors Jungian Analysis - Misha Harding

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