Title: Literary Analysis of the Archetypal Traits and Fundamental Conflicts and Symbolism of the Character of the Rabbit in Burkitt's Chronicles of the Pridelands.
"- As the lecture hall emptied, the Professor once again gazed across the room at the portrait painting of a single, frightened gray rabbit. Its eyes were wide with fear - black, bottomless orbs that drew him closer. What untold mysteries lay locked behind those eyes?"__________Often, appearances are deceiving. This motif occurs many times in John Burkitt's and David A. Morris's Chronicles of the Pridelands. Nowhere is it more pronounced than in the character of the Rabbit. The Rabbit is often overlooked in formal analysis of the work, which is unjust, though understandable. On the surface, the Rabbit seems to be a mere device to bring Taka's internal conflicts and anger into the open. Upon closer examination, the rabbit is revealed to be a significant, multidimensional character that serves as a model for Taka's life throughout the Chronicles saga.-- Professor vs. The Rabbit
__________There is little doubt that the rabbit is an important character. Burkitt chooses to let the rabbit speak, indicating its intelligence. The talking rabbit in this scene stands out in stark contrast when compared to the silent one killed by Misha's hunting group later in the work. While being tormented by Taka, the rabbit says the following:
"Oh gods- Oh gods. Please let me go! Please! I'm not much of a meal. Oh gods, I'm going to die! Oh gods, oh gods! Please don't hurt me!" ("The Illness")
In only 29 monosyllabic words, Burkitt is somehow able to capture the essence of the character, emphasizing its drive to survive. The rabbit uses a number of techniques to try to manipulate Taka to its will - first, it appeals to its 'gods.' Although Burkitt does not mention it, the rabbits pleas indicate a complex system of polytheistic beliefs, and possibly allude to Watership Down's El-ahrairah (Richard Adams). This bumps up the Rabbit's intelligence a notch; not only can it talk, but it also has a religion, like the lions and hyenas. But its "gods" do not intervene, and the Rabbit is forced to try some other means of escape. It chooses to attempt to reason with Taka, saying that it is "not much off a meal." But no amount of rationalizing can break through Taka's madness. Finally, after more appeals to its deity, the Rabbit appeals to Taka's sense of mercy, crying, "Please don't hurt me!" But Taka can no longer give mercy, and the Rabbit dies.
__________ An examination of the Rabbit would not be complete without first looking at its killer, Taka. The scene in which the Rabbit appears, "The Illness," is a turning point in Taka's life. Several important events intersect to exacerbate his madness. Firstly, his father had just given him an ultimatum in the previous scene - either get on with life or leave the pride. This would foster the perceived rejection by his father that began when Ahadi gave the kingship to Muffy. Secondly, Taka witnesses Sarabi's affirmation of Muffy's love, which contributes to his jealousy. Finally, in this scene, Taka looses both of his parents, and Mufasa assumes the throne. These three events spur Taka into a jealous madness that consumes him later in the story.
__________The attack on the Rabbit demonstrates Taka's madness. Taka treats it with utter cruelty. He takes his hatred for Mufasa and projects it onto the Rabbit. While tormenting it, he blindly rants about his hate: "Dirty stinking filth that steals what is rightfully mine!" He also plans to kill Mufasa, to "rip them like a gazelle!" Therefore, the Rabbit is symbolic of hatred and revenge.
__________The Rabbit and Taka share many parallels. Their fates are both beyond their control. Mufasa was chosen to be king at his birth, and Taka could not do anything about it. Similarly, the Rabbit was caught by Taka against its will, and it cannot escape. It does, however, try to manipulate its way out of its fate, by appealing to its gods, and pleading with Taka for its freedom. Taka also tries to avoid his fate by killing Mufasa, but he is ultimately killed by Simba after a short reign. The Rabbit's pleas are similar to Taka's pleas just before he is thrown to the hyenas. This incident, and Taka's life, both end in bloodshed. It can be said that the Rabbit's death forebodes Taka's downfall. Taka's vengeful spirit, which leads him to kill his brother and subject his people to hardship and starvation, can only lead to death. When Taka's hatred makes him kill the Rabbit, he seals his fate. His deadly slash at the Rabbit's throat is a chilling reference to the end of his life, when the hyenas flay him alive.
__________Although the Rabbit appears only briefly, it is a complex character that is much more than it appears to be. The Rabbit is, in reality, a window through which the reader can see Taka's ambitions. The Rabbit's death precipitates the lion's madness, and also solidifies the parallels between the two characters. By killing the Rabbit, whom Taka hates, Taka is really killing himself. Perhaps subconsciously, he hates what he has become, and kills that Rabbit for because of it. In any case, the Rabbit's death shows that Taka's teeth and ambitions are bared.
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