“There is only surrender”: Over the Garden Wall’s Portrayal of Anxiety and Guilt



DuQuaine, Kelsey

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This thesis examines the 10-episode Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall in light of previous children’s literature and media. In particular, it investigates how chronic anxiety is portrayed in its teenage male protagonist. By reading the miniseries through a mental health framework rather than an exclusively moral one, this thesis explores the ways in which Over the Garden Wall presents male anxiety sympathetically as opposed to labeling it as a cowardly failing the protagonist must overcome. It compares this chronic male anxiety with the focus of female characters’ emotional lives: a determinate process of guilt and atonement. Though these emotions do intersect, the plot emphasizes the male character’s anxiety and the female characters’ guilt, which is unusual for children’s media. By addressing how the male and female characters are portrayed in regards to these particular emotions, this thesis hopes to encourage exploration of an otherwise understudied element in children’s literature.



Animated cartoons, Over the Garden Wall, McHale, Patrick, Children's literature, Masculinity, Mental health, Gender, Anxiety