The White Rabbit
Here’s a fun fact about the White Rabbit from the Alice in Wonderland universe that we bet
you didn’t know – Lewis Carroll himself described him as a contrast or ‘the opposite’ of Alice.
In his article Alice on the Stage, Carroll wrote that where Alice represents youth, audacity,
vigour and “swift directness of purpose,” the White Rabbit is meant to contrast her as elderly,
timid, feeble, and “nervously shilly-shallying.” He also imagined him to have a quivering
voice, and even more quivering knees.
But what else do we know about the first, always-running-late character that Alice meets on
her adventure in Wonderland?
In arguably the most famous film retelling of the story, the 1951 Disney version, the White
Rabbit is directly responsible for drawing Alice into Wonderland. Immediately after Alice
explains her ideal wonderland to her kitten, Dinah, the White Rabbit appears out of nowhere,
in a great big rush, explaining in song that "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! No
time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!.” This singing rabbit obviously piques
Alice’s interest, and she follows him into the burrow where her adventures begin. While it
isn’t explicitly explained, we can only assume that the ‘date’ he’s singing about refers to the
garden party hosted by his employers, the King and Queen of Hearts –the latter of whom is
quite liberal with the removal of heads, explaining the need for haste.
The White Rabbit isn’t only in contrast with Alice though. He seems to be one of the more
‘sane’ characters in Wonderland, trying his best to talk the Dodo out of burning the house
down while trying to get the monster, Alice, out.
Just like many of the other iconic Carroll characters, the White Rabbit has become a pop
culture favourite. We’ve seen references to him in other books, movies, and shows, and he’s
even a meetable character at Disney World.
Speaking of which, you can meet the White Rabbit himself at the Churnet Valley Railway's
Mad Hatter Tea Party. Come hear more about Wonderland from someone who has more
experience with the inner workings of Wonderland and its amazingly zany inhabitants than