A Psychoanalysis of the Rum Tum Tugger and Mr Mistoffelees
I saw a headcanon somewhere on here that Grizabella is basically a glimpse into the Rum Tum Tugger’s future, considering she was much like him when she was younger, and it got me thinking. In real life, many, many people who are extremely attractive or extremely successful end up being extremely miserable later in life for one reason or another. For many, it’s because they feel their lives are missing something or because they feel alienated from other people. Grizabella rejected the tribe because she was too proud to admit she needed others in her life, effectively alienating herself from everyone and beginning her downward spiral into the broken, and frankly pitiful state she is in.
Now if we look at Tugger, we see that he’s very similar to how Grizabella was. He’s highly attractive and confident to the point of arrogance. However, even though he is prideful, he is highly dependent on others. His rough and tumble persona is an act he puts on to gain the attention and affection he feels he needs in order to feel secure. The problem with this act is that he vehemently denies that he is dependent and, if left unchecked, it can quickly get out of hand and become very self-destructive, and if it does, Tugger will end up driving others away (intentionally or unintentionally), and slip and fall into a very dark place psychologically. He will become just like Grizabella: bitter, insecure, jaded, and very much alone.
However, Tugger actually has a pretty good chance of staying stable and sane because he is so dependent. His weakness becomes his salvation because of the strength of his relationship with Mistoffelees. Misto keeps Tugger grounded so he doesn’t get too prideful and push everyone away like Grizabella did. He is Tugger’s rock and makes sure that he doesn’t screw everything up. He is–for lack of a better term–Tugger’s moirail. I hesitate to use this term because it’s from Homestuck and applies to a totally different species, but to be quite honest, it is the perfect description of their relationship. I mean, pretty much everyone in this fandom ships them romantically or platonically, but has anyone considered both? Because a moirallegiance is exactly that:
Moirallegiance (♦): Moirallegiance is a quadrant often referred to as platonic, but make no mistake - it is very much a romantic relationship, and is kind of like the concept of soul-mates, even though sex does not seem to be involved. It is founded in the desire to protect your partner, whether it is from the world or from themselves, or occasionally, to protect the world from your partner. A moirail pair traditionally consist of one stable and one instable person, though fanon has run with this concept so far moirails can pretty much be considered to be a kind of asexual relationship. The duty of a moirail is to stop their partner from screwing everything up. And possibly also hold them while they cry.
Tugger is the more unstable one in this relationship. He needs Misto there to ground him and keep him from falling into a self-destructive spiral. Alternatively, Tugger makes sure to protect Misto and emphasise just how amazing he is. Which makes me suspect that Misto struggles a bit with self-confidence. If I may go on a quick tangent, in each of their songs, the other’s part in it resembles their roles in their relationship. In Tugger’s song, Misto’s line is “The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore.” which goes to show how he takes Tugger down a couple notches when he is getting too puffed up and isn’t afraid to put him in his place. But in Misto’s song, it’s literally just Tugger going “gUYS NO SRSLY HE IS ACTUALLY THE GREATEST EVER!” and that leads me to believe that Misto feels a little overshadowed by Tugger, so Tugger goes out of his way to remind Misto of how proud he is of him. They look out for each other and care about each other so frikking much. They balance and complement each other, and their bond is amazingly strong and healthy.
They’re perfect moirails. Love so deep and strong that it’s enough to keep them both happy and psychologically healthy despite their shortcomings, especially Tugger. So no, I don’t think Tugger will end up like Grizabella, so long as Misto is there by his side to keep him in check. They’ll both do fantastically.