Becoming Punxsutawney Phil: Symbols and metaphors of transformation in Groundhog Day

by Benesh, Julie Ellen, Ph.D., FIELDING GRADUATE UNIVERSITY, 2011, 140 pages; 3450252


The 1993 romantic fantasy film Groundhog Day is considered to be an exemplar of the depiction of personal transformation. This study uses hermeneutics and a specific method of dream interpretation to amplify images as symbols of transformation.

Personal transformation is a dramatic, qualitative change which may appear sudden, but is often incremental. The type of transformation most closely associated with images in the film is individuation which promotes wholeness, bringing unconscious potential into expression. Symbols of transformation complement the film‘s narrative of personal transformation embodied in its protagonist.

The symbolic images amplified and analyzed were (a) pairs/doubles, (b) lines and spheres, (c) blue and white colors, (d) hands, and (e) the groundhog.

The symbols evolve throughout the film, moving from unconsciousness to consciousness and separation to union. Forty-seven images chosen for secondary analysis revealed 3 distinct metaphors of death/rebirth including (a) reproduction, (b) digestion, and (c) breathing.

Key Words: archetypal psychology; film studies; Gestalt; hermeneutics; individuation; Jung; motion pictures; personality change; transformation

AdviserAnnabelle Nelson
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsSocial psychology; Film studies
Publication Number3450252

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