Calvin is six years old, and his best friend is Hobbes - a stuffed toy tiger which sometimes comes alive. Bill Watterson's cartoon about this six year old and his stuffed tiger is among the world's most popular at the moment, and has been for many years.
Watterson's stroke of genius is that he combines fantasy and reality, and passes on daily problems through the eyes of a six year old. In 1985 the cartoon came for the first time in the USA. In Norway it came for the "first" time in 1987. (Came in Norwegian papers in 1986)
The two main characters are named after the theologian John Calvin and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
Calvin was a French reformer, and believed it to be his mission in life to take care of the church discipline. His plans in church life was that Gods word was to be followed as law. By strict laws he tried to put an end to all kinds of luxury and amusements. (One can wonder where the heck he found the grounds for that, but that's another story... Maybe he was a lousy reader..) He meant that some where predestined to have eternal life, others to eternal condemnation.
Hobbes was a English philosopher who studied at Oxford in England. Hobbes sought understanding of all reality: nature's, universal, society's and mankind's. The basis of everything that happens is, according to Hobbes, movement in the small parts of the matter / substance. He could never prove his theory, as it was only built on speculations. Hobbes had actually greater influence as a political philosopher. His contract - theory is the most important part of his political philosophy. Man's natural desires and inclinations (instincts of self-preservation and fear) would on their own lead to a natural state that would have to become "everybody's war against everybody." But, this kind of universal civil war would be incompatible with the wish we all have to survive. Therefore common sense tells us to seek the peace.
If we compare these to with their namesakes in Watterson's cartoon, we find many vital similarities and dissimilarities. If we look at Calvin, his understanding is totally opposite to John Calvin's ideas. The wealth and luxury John Calvin despised is precisely what Calvin wants most of all! Strict rules are also something Calvin hates; he wants to make his own decisions, without any form of babysitter looking after him.
Hobbes, however, has in fact many similarities to Thomas Hobbes. His many ideas and philosophies can, similar to Thomas Hobbes', not be documented. It is fair to say though, that Thomas Hobbes' ideas had a bit more foundation in reality than the ones Hobbes come up with....
The tiger instinct that Calvin's pet possesses convinces him (like Thomas Hobbes' philosophy) that it's often best to take it easy if he wants to survive. A natural result of this is that he often backs out from many of Calvin's crazy ideas.
Calvin's neighbor is a girl his own age, Susie. Even if one should think that these two would spend much time together, this is not the case. Susie is the only kid that tries to make friends with Calvin, but he rejects every attempt. The conflicts between these to is one of the pearls in Watterson's cartoon.
Calvin is a part of a normal American middle class family. He is the only child, but he is not spoilt for that reason. His parents are quite strict, but at the same time very loving. The trials Calvin exposes them to can however be hard to deal with. Calvin tearing up the floor of his room to build his own secret tunnel, is not one of those things that causes big enthusiasm with mom and dad....