The Mad Hatter
ARTICLES, Cartoons, Disney, Fantasy, Film, Novels & Series, Reviews, The Cursed Author, Tim Burton

Half a Century of Madness

From Lewis Carroll’s novel to Tim Burton’s depiction of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010. one of the most enthusiastic, twisted, loopy and tea-addicted characters in classic literature can be linked back to this beloved and mad character – The Mad Hatter.

Why is the raven like a writing desk?
– Mad Hatter

Do we ever really get an answer to this mad question asked during a frazzled and uncorked character by Lewis Carroll’s 1951 novel, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland?

What made the Hatter mad?

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “As mad as a Hatter?” this phrase originated long before Carroll’s character was created. When Hatters used to “hat” they used felt for the exterior of the top hats. The hatters were exposed to prolonged exposure to chemicals like “mercury nitrate,” used in curing felt. This prolonged exposure to dangerous chemicals would eventually lead to mercury poisoning and then diagnosed as “etherism” or other known as, “Mad Hatter’s Disease”.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

Therefore, if you were acting “Mad” and being compared to a “Hatter” it may be time to seek help. However, this history is not mentioned in Carroll’s story for The Mad Hatter, or “Tarrant Hightopp.” His story is depicted by Tim Burton in the newest release of Through the looking Glass” as The Mad Hatter having a sense of humor that was not welcomed by his family.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

He had a love for hats, but his father always pushed him away, when The Red Queen has her Jabberwocky attack the village, The Mad Hatter believes that his family has been killed. This history behind The Mad Hatter’s character brought a sense of background to the character that was not mentioned in Carroll’s books.

Comparing Tea Parties

The Mad Hatter was not a overly used character in Lewis Carroll’s novels, he was at the tea party and that was it. The same goes for much of the animated version by Disney, but you always remembered him. Tim Burton’s Mad Hatter Tea Party is portrayed twelve years after Disney’s animated depiction of Lewis Carroll’s Tea Party from the novel. When comparing the two, it is a light versus dark sequence of a Wonderland that has lost its “muchness.” – much like Alice.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

Wonderland has become Underland in Burton’s depiction of Alice in Wonderland and one of The Mad Hatter’s favorite tea table time events has become a gray and colorless drab of a party compared to Disney’s animated version. The Mad Hatter remembers who Alice is upon her arrival and thinks he’d “know him anywhere,” but this scene shows a side to the anger-filled Mad Hatter we never knew before.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

Tim Burton’s version clearly depicts the dark ages of Wonderland by this rhyme-less and tense scene that focuses on the hate that the Hatter and the rest of the party has for The Red Queen, wishing for her head to be removed.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

Depending on your taste in film, and openness to change – Disney’s colorful, sing song-rhyming madness of a party that made Alice feel unwelcome is far-fetched from the first time we meet The Mad Hatter in Burton’s version.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

If we were to watch Tim Burton’s version of the Hatter and didn’t have the original in our hearts, we would be introduced to a much darker version in this first scene that introduces us to The Mad Hatter.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

There are no songs, there are no rhymes but there are still our favorite characters: The Mad Hatter, March Hare, the Dormouse and this time there is room at the table for Alice, inside of a teapot, hiding from The Red Queen’s soldiers.

What in the World is “Futterwacken”?

The term “Futterwacken” is never used in Lewis Carroll’s novels and neither in the animated version, this was created for Burton’s depiction as a dance The Mad Hatter will do on Fabjous day when Alice slays the Jabberwocky. The name of this dance causes every new viewer to raise a brow in either curiosity or check the rating on the back of the DVD’s case.

The Mad Hatter is Aging Backwards

Tim Burton’s Alice is set in the Victorian Era of society but in “Underland” it has been twelve years, and much has changed. However, comparing The Mad Hatter to the animated version and Carroll’s novel, the Hatter is aging backwards. In the animated version and novel, he is portrayed as having crazy gray hair and looking rather aged, while in Burton’s version he has his crazy, clownish orange hair and colorful makeup.

The Mad Hatter
The Mad Hatter

In Tim Burton’s Through the Looking Glass we question whether we will lose this beloved character due to his heart breaking after he realizes he believes his family is gone forever. His orange hair turns white and his features are the same, it isn’t until he regains hope that we see him, quite awkwardly, become the Hatter we remember from Burton’s first Alice.

Split Personalities and Split Accents

In Lewis Carroll’s novel and Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland, we never hear a different accent by The Mad Hatter like we do in Tim Burton’s depiction that shows a wider range of the Hatter’s split personality. When he is happy, he is English. When he is angry, he becomes Scottish and his features begin to darken. This split accent is not in the book or Disney’s version, but maybe that was because we never saw The Mad Hatter angry in those version?

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat, and it is nevar put with the wrong end to the front.
-The Mad Hatter

Whether you are a fan of the literature that Lewis Carroll blessed us with, hold the songs of the playful tea party from Disney’s animated version of young and curious Alice in Wonderland, or embrace the new and dark, coming of age version from Tim Burton’s “Underland” – Alice in Wonderland will always bring a child-like smile to our faces.

May Your Stories Be Written in the Stars,
-The Cursed Author

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