The Tale of Peter Rabbit: An Emblem of Easter

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Spring, a symbol of new life and rejuvenation of spirit. For Easter tidings, it’s of particular significance to focus on rejuvenated spirit because Christ’s renewed life by his crucifixion is the central idea of the Christian faith. I think Peter Rabbit is a lovely depiction of the “Easter Bunny” and is symbolic of the season. Peter Rabbit’s story is fascinating. Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist who lived during the Victorian era. She had numerous pets and loved flora and fauna. Beatrix Potter was an example of the good that it does to a person when they are closer to nature. The landscape that she enjoyed was in Scotland and the Lake District in England. She was born in London in 1866 and was avidly interested in all sciences except astronomy. One could perhaps assume that she felt a particular affinity for being “of the earth.”

Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. It is a quintessentially Victorian book, and its appeal has lasted through the decades. Peter Rabbit is a mischievous and disobedient rabbit who gets chased around the garden by Mr. McGregor, a horticulturist who is trying to keep rabbits out of his vegetable garden. The character has been used in toys, dishes, clothing etc., because Beatrix Potter patented a Peter Rabbit doll and board game in 1903. The characters are Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail, and Mr. McGregor. They are a family of rabbits with different personalities… it’s all very adorable.

Walt Disney had attempted to turn the tale of Peter Rabbit into a Disney film, but Beatrix Potter refused. Disney had likely seen a correlation between the charm of the woodland creatures in his wildly successful adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). In any event, Bambi was likely the successor of a woodland creature story, which was released in 1942. Numerous films have been made about Peter Rabbit, though. He may not have become a Disney icon, but interestingly, has maintained a type of icon status in his own right!

I am most intrigued about how Beatrix wrote a tale about rabbits which humanized an animal to some degree. I believe Beatrix meant this to be charming, memorable, and teaches early on how we are part of nature just as much as our fellow animals are. Having an appreciation for nature and respecting the earth early on is essential. Now, when climate change threatens our fundamental conception of survival, it may be more than fitting to re-introduce Peter Rabbit. From being a friendly reminder of the joys of nature, to a symbol of the Easter season… take a leap down the rabbit role this Easter and appreciate Peter Rabbit’s tales for all of its charms and seasonal joys.

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