Mickey Mouse is a well loved symbol of the greatness of America. He represents a long carefree era when everything in the world has gone well for the most prosperous nation on earth. He symbolises the prosperity of Americans throughout a period when they have dominated the world both economically and politically.
It is significant that a creature often viewed in other countries as a pest to be eradicated can rise in the United States of America to become a movie star and a household name. This symbolises the American dream where everyone (including apparently rodents and quite possibly many other non-human personalities) can expect freedom of speech, freedom of actions and freedom to make an honest living. It is important to note in this context that the rise to fame and/or riches of an underdog has long been a popular theme in the folk lore of western countries in general but of America in particular.
Not content to make a hero out of one rodent, the American public has also idolised Mickey's partner Minnie. It is interesting to note that Mickey and Minnie frequently demonstrate behavior not unlike human courtship behavior. It is also interesting to note that this happily unmarried couple remain perpetually in this state of innocent bliss. This state seems to capture the innocence of childhood that children do not know they have and adults reminisce about incessantly.
In addition to their role as a platonic couple Mickey and Minnie demonstrate socially acceptable inter-personal behavior with their collection of animal friends. These characters have developed as vehicles for teaching young children the key elements of social behavior. Parents of today have grown up on the antics of Mickey Mouse and his friends and are happy for their children to do so.
It is quite likely that Mickey Mouse originated from a lucky idea by Walt Disney with no intention to create role models for the young (or the young at heart). However, he has developed into an important figure in American, and perhaps global, society. He has played and continues to play an essential part in the formation of well balanced members of society both through film and the now international Mickey Mouse Club.
Extracted from: Symbols of America by R.O. Dent 1988, page 53