“I shall be too late!”
I would like to continue with today’s theme of rabbit-related weirdness. So far we’ve looked at serial killers with a little bit of a rabbit habit…now let’s talk about something a little bit nicer: the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s classic novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The White Rabbit is one of the most well-known and beloved characters from the Alice books. He is the one who causes Alice to enter Wonderland in the first place- seeing him consult his poket watch and exclaim in shock that he will be late, Alice finds herself overcome with curiousity, and tumbles down the rabbit hole after him.
Of course, now the idea of Alice falling down that hole is used often in popular culture, and is alluded to countless times in fiction whenever the protagonist ventures somewhere that they do not belong. The White Rabbit can be seen almost as a guide- while he in himself is mysterious, the things he ends up leading you to are far stranger. He is just a taste of what is to come, and the rabbit hole is a large, gaping void in the world of logic and proportion.
Of course, in the book, the White Rabbit probably wasn’t intended to symbolise anything like that. He was…well, quite a rabbity sort of chap. A timid, well-dressed gent (who could forget his waistcoat, pocketwatch or gloves- perhaps a reference to thje fact that Lewis Carroll himself always wore white gloves, no matter the weather?), largely preoccupied with the time, he, like many of the other creatures Alice encounters, isn’t the nicest of characters, but is still pretty harmless. In fact, one cannot help but feel a little sorry for him; he certainly made a big mistake when he mistook Alice for his maid, Mary-Ann. (I’ll do another post on her some other time.)
It is possible that the White Rabbit was based on the Dean of Oxford, who was Alice Liddell’s father. (The Liddell sisters were the ones who Carroll originally told the story to, all in a golden afternoon.) No idea if this is true, but many characters were based on real-life people who were around at the time. (Carroll based the Dodo on himself, for instance.)
Probably the most famous version of the White Rabbit is Disney’s. I must admit, they do make him very endearing. (And that song he sings is pretty catchy.) My personal favourite, though, has to be Whitey from Malice in Wonderland- a cabdriver who takes an amnesiac Alice under in a gritty update of the children’s tale. And let us not forget Jan Svankmajer’s unique take on the character, who, in his adaptation of the book, is a stuffed toy who keeps his pocketwatch stored safe inside of his chest. And carries a pair of scissors around. Speaking of creepy Alice adaptations, Pandora Hearts (the best Alice-inspired work ever) features a rabbit doll with bloody, gaping wounds for eyes. Charming. (I really need to start reading Pandora Hearts again soon, actually…)