Literature / The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1901 and is Beatrix Potter's first, and most famous children's book.

Peter Rabbit is an anthropomorphic rabbit who lives next door to the (human) farmer, McGregor. His mother's always told him to stay out of Farmer McGregor's garden because Peter's father was killed and eaten there. Of course, Peter foolishly disobeys this advice and sneaks into McGregor's garden to stuff himself on vegetables and get into all sorts of trouble.

It's now in the public domain in the United States and can be read here. A CGI series based on the tale began on CBeebies in December 2012. A special associated with the series aired on Nickelodeon in the United States in December, 2012, and the series began in the U.S. in February 2013.

A film adaptation has been announced for 2018. You can watch the first trailer here.

The original book provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Animated Adaptation: The story gained a couple animated adaptations over the past decades. The earliest is the Merri Melodies's 1935 cartoon "The Country Boy". Then two were created in 1991 first is HBO Family's animated musical adaptation as part of a series "Storybook Musicals" and another being released the same year called The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. Golden Films also released an animated movie in 1995 called "The New Adventures Of Peter Rabbit" where Peter is a little bit older along with his three sisters. And the most recent is the 2012 Nickelodeon series Peter Rabbit. Rabbit Ears Productions also created an animated adaptation of this tale that was narrated by Meryl Streep.
  • Animal Talk
  • Aerith and Bob: "Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names wereŚ Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter."
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Peter Rabbit and his sisters serve as the Trope Codifier for this trope. While not the first, Peter Rabbit could be considered one of the earliest uses of this trope in children's media and how the history of bunnies commonly associated with cute began with.
  • Beast Fable: Listen to your parents, kids. The dangerous strangers they tell you to stay away from are actually dangerous.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Peter goes through hell and back, but escapes with his life. However, he loses his clothes and is left traumatized and ill by his ordeal.
  • Black Comedy:
    'Now my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'
  • Call-Back: The events of this tale are referenced in the one about Peter's cousin Benjamin Bunny, who helps Peter break back into the garden to reclaim his clothes.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Rabbits are not only sapient, but they have a society very similar to humans. They wear clothes, use pots and pans, and sleep on rabbit-sized beds. That said, Mr McGregor bakes Peter's father into a pie.
  • Civilized Animal: Peter and his family, of course. They are very anatomically accurate, but wear clothes and live in well-furnished warrens.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Peter is told not to go in Mr McGregor's garden. He goes in anyway, with predictable results.
  • Freeze Sneeze: Peter sneezes while he's hiding in a half-full watering can.
  • The Gardener: Farmer McGregor is a Mundane Gardener whose plants Peter wants to eat.
  • Housewife: Peter's mother, though she also sells tea and tobacco.
  • Mouse World: Peter and his family live on the fringes of human society.
  • Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females: Peter only wears a jacket/vest, while his mother wears a dress and apron. Peter's sisters, however, only wear shawls.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: In the original illustrations, Peter's three sisters all wear identical pink coats, while Peter himself wears a blue coat.
  • Purple Prose: Famously, when the sparrows saw Peter trapped they "implored him to exert himself."
  • Rascally Rabbit: Peter Rabbit was a notorious troublemaker, as was his cousin Benjamin.
  • Sneeze of Doom: A sneeze gives Peter away to Mr McGregor when he's hiding in the watering can.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Peter's father died trespassing into Mr McGregor's garden, and Peter almost falls victim to this fate.
  • Weirdness Censor: Mr. Mc Gregor doesn't seem confused upon seeing a rabbit running around wearing clothes.
  • Women Are Wiser: Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail are all smart enough to follow their mother's advise while Peter trespasses into McGregor's garden and nearly ends up a meal like his father.

The Merrie Melodies "Country Boy" cartoon provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Denser and Wackier: True to Merrie Melodies nature, the story is made more slapstick. Peter's escape from Mc Gregor's counterpart in particular better resembles a standard Tom and Jerry chase.
  • Gainax Ending: The cartoon doesn't really have a real resolution. Peter just crashes into a chicken coop, covered in feathers. In response to his predicament, he stands on a fence and crows.
  • The Stool Pigeon: The first time Peter attempts to trespass into the garden, he is confronted by three Obedient Olga types (what seem to be Expies for Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail) who sing a number threatening to tell the teacher on him if he tries. He threatens to pop the three tattles unless they shut up.

The HBO "Storybook Musicals" cartoon provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ascended Extra: In the HBO Family series "Storybook Musicals". Peter's sisters Mopsy,Flopsy, and Cottontail have more presence complete with scenes showing them picking berries. The trio have a total of 3 songs all sang by each other while Peter only has one song besides singing short verses.
  • Suddenly Voiced: While Mr Mcgregor's white cat in most adaptations is never heard talking. In the HBO Family series "Storybook Musicals" she is given her own musical number provided by the voice actress and singer who also voices Peter's mother in the same special.