"Have some wine," the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. "I don't see any wine," she remarked.
"There isn't any, " said the March Hare.
"Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it," said Alice angrily.
"It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited," said the March Hare.
The March Hare, like the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse, does not appear in Alice’s Adventures Underground, but was an addition by Carroll for the printed edition. “Mad as a March Hare” is an even older proverb than “Mad as Hatter.” Most speculate that the phrase refers to the excessively energetic behavior of the hare during early months of the mating season. Although the March Hare’s personality is pretty indistinguishable from his counterpart’s, the March Hare is neither as well known nor as well loved as the Mad Hatter. He appears in every film version and in most illustrated editions, but somehow is just not as memorable. In fact, often in film versions, lines that should belong to the March Hare are given to the hatter.
Like the other characters at the Mad Tea Party, the March Hare is often interpreted as an adult, pre-occupied with the mundane, absurd, and rude. On the other hand, the March Hare also proves himself to be one of the most philosophical characters of the book, as is demonstrated in this exchange with Alice:
"and they drew all manner of things--everything that begins with an M--"
"Why with an M?" said Alice.
"Why not?" said the March Hare.
“Why not” indeed. The March Hare challenges Alice’s judgments, just as his inclusion challenges our judgment of just what exactly it means to be mad.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Chapter 7
Reappears in Chapter 11
Below you can see how illustrations of the March Hare have changed over time. Note how similar many of the depictions of the March Hare are, compared with the diverse Mad Hatters. I think Willy Pogany’s lanky hare and Alison Jay’s purple-coated and bespectacled hare deserve particular attention. Click on one of the artists in the right hand column to see the next illustration.
The Hare usually looks a little ridiculous in film versions of the Alice as he is most often played by a man in a hare costume, with large floppy ears and false teeth. And although the Hare usually plays second fiddle to the Hatter in these scenes, there are several versions where his contribution to the scene is subtle but quite important. For without the Hare, there can be no banter, which is certainly part of what makes the Mad Tea Party so fun to watch. Here are a few of the more interesting portrayals of the March Hare from Disney’s 1951 version (voiced by vaudeville comedian Jerry Colonna), the stuttering and stoic Hare in Jonathan Miller’s 1966 film, the stop-animation wind-up Hare of Jan Svankmajer’s “Alice,” and finally the seriously deranged March Hare of Tim Burton’s 2010 film. Additionally, I’ve included a clip from the early 1990’s television series “Adventures in Wonderland,” for its interesting iteration of the March Hare.
A Mad Tea Party
Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
A Mad Tea Party
Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland (1966)
The Mad Tea Party
Jan Svankmajer's Alice (1988)
A Mad Tea Party Clip (Johnny Depp)
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Clip from episode, "Copy Catter Hatter"
"Adventures in Wonderland", (Disney, 1991-1995)
Wikipedia Article on the March Hare
Nick Willing’s 1999 film version also has an interesting version of the March Hare.
In Syfy’s “Alice” the March Hare is transformed into “Mad March” an animatronic assassin. Click here to see the “Mad Tea Party,” where the March Hare tortures the Hatter.
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