Spotlight on Wonderland: The White Rabbit


I fear I shall too be late to turn in my final papers! Must dash!! Cheerio!!!

At last, finals week; the week we both long for (as a herald to winter break and relative peace), and dread ( don’t even ask how many papers I need to finish) is finally here. In the spirit of this hectic period, we shall follow the swift, zippy, speedy, breakneck, hasty, expeditious wee rabbit across the various landscapes of Wonderland. I am inspired by the words of Sherlock Holmes (played by Robert Downey Jr.), in the recent film version (2009),  ” My journey took me some what further down the rabbit hole than I intended and though I dirtied my fluffy white tail I have emerged, enlightened.”

When we first meet the nameless white rabbit, Alice is dozing, and in her state of reverie she follows him down to another world. Amusingly enough, Alice finds it rather unremarkable that he rushes by her, saying “Oh dear, Oh dear, I shall be too late”, but when he pulls a pocket watch from his waistcoat she can no longer be disinterested.

It is in the rabbit’s house that she finds one of the bottles that reads “Drink Me”, that changes her size so drastically. Accordingly, Alice soon becomes too large for the rabbit’s home, and frightens the dickens out of him.

Though she loses track of him for a while, Alice then runs into the rabbit again at the Queen’s croquet game, and he finally directly addresses Alice, though not as we would expect from their earlier meeting.

“It’s–It’s a very fine day!” said a timid voice at her side. She was walking by the White Rabbit, who was peeping anxiously into her face.” They speak about how the Duchess was under a sentence of execution for boxing the Queen’s ears, until the Queen scares them into focusing on the game at hand. The next time we see the rabbit is at the court proceedings, where he serves a herald to the court. With a trumpet in hand and a scroll in the other as he calls upon Alice as a witness to the proceedings.

What do you think of the White Rabbit?

Did You Know?

Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for the White Rabbit may have been Alice Liddell’s father, Dean Henry Liddell, who was known for running late to services at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

According to Lewis Carroll: “the White Rabbit should wear spectacles. I am sure his voice should quaver, and his knees quiver, and his whole air suggest a total inability to say “Bo” to a goose!”

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the White Rabbit and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.


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