Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was and remains a haven for any little kid who lived in the universe they created in their head. In my many years of reading and watching Wonderland, it has begun to morph into its true form. A story less about the magic of childhood and more about the challenges of life. And there is one character who sticks out– The Mad Hatter.
The Mad Hatter
The Hatter is a character that plays an unforgettable yet complicated role in that magic. By his name alone, it’s clear he comes from a family of hat makers, and due to a comment by Cheshire Cat he is “mad”; thus donning the name Mad Hatter. I had never agreed with or understood why he was considered “mad.” Yes, he is quite the odd fellow, with a quirky sense of style and humor as his best friends are talking animals but I wouldn’t call him “mad.” I have come to learn that he is “mad” because of all the qualities I consider interesting and weird. No one could understand his outlandish personality or chaotic mood swings.
He’s “mad” because, yes, he can be the happiest person in the scene but in the next, he could be a ball of anxiety. I know I’ve been in that position making him incredibly relatable. Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is one of my favorite characters of all time because he takes those peculiarities and runs with them. He transforms the character into someone I am fascinated with; uprooting the animated version and creating someone with far more depth.
With all these characteristics in mind, I think he would have a library that looks exactly like him; unconventional and completely authentic.
1. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Perhaps the most obvious choice, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe would no doubt be on the Hatter’s bookshelves. In the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and in the movie adaptation, the Mad Hatter asked the riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” I wholeheartedly see Hatter anxiously reading this book hoping there is an answer within. His naive curiosity is one of his best attributes and I think that would translate to his reading material.
2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf encapsulates time in a manner the Hatter would understand. This novel uses flashbacks and present time to show the life of Clarissa Dalloway for one day in post-World War I England. Woolf also intertwines the story of Septimus Smith and his wife to show another representation of time completely. While Clarissa flashes into the past to reconsider her love life, Septimus is overcome by his PTSD from war and is plagued by hallucinations.
These hallucinations make him believe he is back in the war watching his friend die in front of him. This breaks the strings of time, putting the past in the present. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hatter talks to Time personally, claiming Time is a “him”, not an “it.” A quarrel involving a song and the Queen of Hearts made time stay at six o’clock, thus why it is always tea time; the repetition of his days makes me think he can relate deeply to Septimus’ struggle. Another novel in this one-day style on Hatter’s shelves would certainly be Ulysses by James Joyce.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald embodies the same dream-like state the Hatter is constantly in. Fitzgerald’s novel navigates a picturesque world while the people in it chase dreams, denying reality’s existence. As a child, Alice creates Wonderland as an escape from reality and growing up. The lavish parties and ridiculous uses of money in Gatsby are also used to hide from the sad life the character leads.
In the sequel novel, Through the Looking Glass, the Mad Hatter says “A dream is not reality, but who’s to say which is which?” This novel could be useful for the Hatter to see how damaging that question can be. But as someone who likes to live in her dream world in a nonviolent way, I think this quote sums up creativity and the excitement of making one’s life completely one’s own.
I have always been enchanted by Mad Hatter’s nonsense and upside-down way of thinking. I think he would find joy in this library not only for its educational purposes but because it allows him to see that other people are just as “mad” as he is.
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