For today’s post, I would like to take a brief look at the figure of the White Rabbit from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This Victorian era fairytale is one of the most iconic children’s books to ever be published. Alice entered Wonderland through falling down a rabbit hole after chasing the White Rabbit.
As a character the White Rabbit is a quite neurotic and worried little animal, who can talk and tell time. The color white is significant here because white is a color associated with the Celtic Otherworld. White animals especially are seen as possible markers of the faerie realm. Carroll likely purposely chose the color white for his rabbit who led the seven year old Alice into the mixed up realm of Wonderland!
The White Rabbit is one of the key figures in the first Alice story due to his leading her down the rabbit hole. He also proved to be important when we learn that the reason he is so ill at ease about being late is because he works for the Queen! This puts him into a pivotal situation when it comes to Alice being put on trail at the end of the story.
The White Rabbit is in all honesty rather cowardly. He also proved to be a figure that completely uses the logic of Wonderland. The logic of Wonderland, is of course a lack of logic! Alice, even as a young girl is the most logical, and sensible of all the characters in the book. She forever used her intellect to attempt to navigate the backwards goings on of the land in which she found herself.
As a whole the story was likely inspired by Carroll’s own feeling of being ill at ease in society. He, in fact, felt more comfortable with children, as they did not have the societal expectations of him that adults had. Alice is ill at ease in Wonderland, as she does not understand their customs. This is what led to her being brought to trial by the Queen. All of this would never have happened if the White Rabbit had not run past her and led her into Wonderland! We can theorize that it is the White Rabbit’s fault that she ever entered Wonderland, whether he meant her to follow or not. He very well may have simply been irresponsible to allow a child to see him acting unlike a normal rabbit in the human world. On the other hand, he may have purposefully led her into his world, and this would make him totally at fault for all that happened in the story!
The White Rabbit inspired many people for generations, and continues to do so today. His figure is so iconic that everyone knows what you mean by White Rabbit, even if they are not fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! The character inspired the Jefferson Airplane song White Rabbit, which is not only a reference to the character (and the story), but also a drug reference! It makes much sense that in the 1960s bands would be inspired by a story that seems a bit like a drug trip, given all of the nonsensical goings on in Wonderland!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on Alice’s White Rabbit. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is the illustration of the White Rabbit from chapter one of the book. I found the image on medium.com.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- In the Shadow of Dreamland: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll by Karoline Leach
- Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy edited by Richard Brian Davis
- White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane