No doubt The Simpsons is a show infamous for its humor, but it is often known that underneath humor is allegorical truth. This is evident in the “Rosebud” episode of The Simpsons where it deals with youth, innocence, the growth into adulthood, and the reaction of adults to these things; four aspects that can directly compare to life. These aspects are exemplified through the actions of Maggie, Burns, Homer, Bart, and the citizens of Springfield. This episode illuminates the fact that we all have a rosebud.
The reaction to youth is the most predominant characteristic in this episode. This is highlighted through the characters’ reactions to Maggie where they all allow her to keep the bear in all instances where they interact with her. This is first seen when Homer takes the bear from Maggie and is compelled to give it back. This scene is the first parallel between childhood and adulthood. Homer is the adult who, with selfishness, is prying away a part of Maggie’s innocence (in a subtle way telling her to grow up) but once he realizes what he is doing and sees Maggie’s hurt reaction to this he immediately regrets and retracts his actions. This is seen again when the angry mob barges into the house and takes the bear away from her and lastly when Burns tries to do the same. This highlights the certain ways adults react to childhood and innocence. They see it as something that should be protected and preserved. If we were to compare the taking away of the bear from Maggie and the taking away of the bear from Burns, it is easy to say that there is a clear difference. With Maggie the results are regret and disgust with oneself where Homer, Moe (whom is a part of the mob), and Burns shame themselves after taking the bear. While with Burns, no one seems to care about his emotional need to have the bear again unless it is beneficial to them. This can be said to exemplify how adults see innocence as something that only children can have. The bear symbolized a love for youth, both Maggie and Burns were going through the same thing, which was holding on to something that brought them comfort and joy but when Burns had that taken away from him no one seemed to care until he took away TV (the world) and beer (something to disillusion them from the world). The citizens did not care about Burns or his innocence but instead about their own contentment and for a while were willing to revoke a child her innocence before realizing what it was that needed protection.
Burns growth into adulthood begins when a flashy car (life) come to take him away from his simple home (childhood) and he readily accepts leaving his bear (innocence) behind. He later, in his adulthood, realizes that he had left something important. This can be directly compared to real life and how easy it is to loose ones innocence. Bart visualizes another example of the journey into adulthood in the scene where he comes up with the idea to send pieces of the bear to Burns in order to get more money. This can be compared to growing up and the tactics used by adolescent to reach life’s goals, and how some of these tactics are unethical and many times end in failure.
Bart too has reached the age where he may not see innocence only belonging to children but may see it as something that is not important to adults. All of the adult characters seemed to only care about innocence and the joy of childhood when it had to do with Maggie, but Maggie was the only character that seemed to understand that this was not necessarily true. Thus, she gave the bear back to Burns. At the end of the episode it is insinuated that after Burns promised to never leave the bear behind again he does so. Reiterating again that innocence is not something that adults are capable of holding on to.
Through the juxtaposition of childhood, adulthood, and the reaction of adult characters to both, it is safe to say that beneath the humor of this episode lays an anecdote about the inevitability of unattainable innocence in adulthood.