What are some examples of Potter expressing her own personal agenda in The Tale of Peter Rabbit?
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Even mentioning the name Peter Rabbit conjures up a vision of a cuddly, mischievious bunny in even the most technologically aware child (I hope!).
Beatrix Potter was an enigma and the British public knew little about her - she liked it that way. She was far more inclined to her American followers whom she welcomed as curious tourists, at her Hilltop farm in the Lake District (UK).
As a child, Beatrix Potter and her brother had few friends outside their own extended family, having private tutoring and thus they spent hours playing and drawing their pets and nurturing an interest in nature - which Beatrix pursued, actually becoming a farmer and sheep breeder herself.
As a young child, she was avidly interested in The Owl and the Pussycat (Edward Lear), Alice in Wonderland(Lewis Carroll), especially the illustrations and many other fantasy stories. She illustrated her own pets, developing a unique style and using what she learnt from the styles found in Sleeping Beauty, Puss-in-Boots, and so on. Beatrix and her equally talented younger brother designed and printed Christmas cards and special occasion cards which they sold and which became very successful. Mice and rabbits usually featured in their art and pictures of Benjamin Bunny were bought and used to illustrate a series of verse by Frederick Weatherly.
The Beatrix Potter series began as a series of letters she wrote to the children of her dear friend Annie Moore. Moore had been her governess at one stage but was very close in age to Beatrix and they maintained contact. Not having much to write about but wanting to keep in touch, especially with Moore's eldest and sickly child, she wrote about those things closest to her heart - small animals, nature and fantasy. The "bunny book" about "four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter" which she adapted from the letters was printed herself at first but once published became an immediate success.
So any "personal agenda" she may have had would be purely to foster a love of animals, nature and a belief in basic gooness prevailing. Even being naughty and paying the consequences comes out fine in the end. She tried to capture the essence and mystery and looking for a deeper meaning in her work may be something of a disservice to the memory of Beatrix Potter.
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