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White Rabbit

5 Meanings of the White Rabbit

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The white rabbit is a character in Lewis Carroll's 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that plays an metaphorical role in the story. The following are common meanings and interpretations tied to the white rabbit.

Where Curiosity Gets You

.... burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
In the book, a young girl named Alice falls down a rabbit hole after following a strange anthropomorphic white rabbit who is mumbling to himself about being late. This is the beginning of a fantastical journey in a world called Wonderland. As such, the white rabbit is symbolic of curiosity and its capacity to open new worlds.

Down the Rabbit-Hole

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice makes a fateful decision to follow the white rabbit into a rabbit hole. She follows of her own free will for a time but then suddenly falls into a deep well. This has led to the idiomatic phrase rabbit hole to mean following your curiosity to go on an extraordinary and unintended path. For example, checking some information online only to end up clicking on interesting links until you are off in some weird corner of the web. Here you could say that you "fell down the rabbit-hole."

Time

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!
~ The White Rabbit, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The White Rabbit has a pocket watch, is extremely punctual and is often worried about running late. The character represents time and people's obsession with it.

Victorian Society

Oh! the Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! won’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!
~ The White Rabbit, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The White Rabbit serves royalty such as the King and Queen of Hearts and is always rushing around trying to please them for fear of being executed. He is extremely anxious to conform to the expectations set upon him by the powers of society. This can be viewed as a criticism of Victorian England and its strict social expectations, demands and punishments.

Perception of Power

Why, they’re only a pack of cards, after all. I needn’t be afraid of them!
~ Alice, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
At first Alice doesn't take the royalty and systems of Wonderland seriously as they are playing cards and animals. However, as the story progresses the white rabbit changes physical size and grows very large. As the rabbit symbolizes Victorian society, this is an allegory for how the power of systems grow in your mind as you become immersed in them.
Next read: through the looking glass

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White Rabbit
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