Watership Down Characters

The Characters (Critical Guide to British Fiction)

A writer’s chief problem in an animal fable is establishing a delicate balance: on the one hand, if the characters behave exactly as their real-world counterparts do, the story has nothing to say to or about human beings. On the other hand, if the “animals” behave exactly like human beings, if their motives, desires, and decisions are all human ones, then they have no reason to appear in what is merely an animal disguise. In Watership Down, however, the reader is never allowed to forget that the characters are rabbits who pursue lapin purposes with virtues and vices peculiar to their species. Yet Adams also succeeds in involving the reader deeply in the rabbits’ successes and failures and in individualizing them, endowing them with personalities that evoke understanding and sympathy.

One of the most interesting and well-developed characters is one who appears in a story-within-a-story: the rabbits’ chief means of transmitting traditional wisdom is the telling of folktales. These tales mainly concern Prince El-ahrairah, the primal rabbit in their creation myths. The stories of the prince are important to the main plot as well: time and again, the rabbits of Watership Down will tell a story of Prince El-ahrairah to hearten or to enlighten one another. The prince’s stature among the rabbits is compared to Robin Hood’s among the English or John Henry’s among American blacks. His adventures often remind one of those of Joel Chandler...

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Watership Down Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Hazel

Hazel, one of the rabbits forced to leave Cowslip Warren when it is destroyed by encroaching civilization. He is a young buck rabbit who eventually matures into a wise leader of his warren at Watership Down. Hazel undertakes to guide the rabbits across country to safety; in the course of their travels, he outwits humans, other beasts, natural disasters, and the evil dictator of Efrafa Warren, General Woundwort. Hazel’s character is similar to those of such wily tricksters of myth and folktale as Brer Rabbit, Coyote, Odysseus, and Robin Hood. Eventually, Hazel establishes another warren on the Belt, made up of rabbits from Watership Down and Woundwort’s Efrafa Warren.

Fiver

Fiver, the runt brother in Hazel’s litter. Although he is physically weaker than the others, Fiver can see the future, often clouded in myth, allegory, and allusion. Fiver frequently falls into a troubled fit during which he dreams what will befall his rabbit band; these dreams presage encounters with enemies such as General Woundwort and farmers.

Bigwig

Bigwig, another Cowslip Warren rabbit who travels with Hazel to Watership Down. He is notable primarily for his physical strength, bravery, and willingness to defend his friends, Hazel in particular. Bigwig is instrumental in getting the rabbits of the Mark under General Woundwort’s control to cooperate in Hazel’s plan to liberate does for his warren at Watership Down. He also saves Hazel from the cat while they are at Nuthanger Farm trying to liberate the domesticated rabbits. It is Bigwig who deals the defeating blow to General Woundwort.

Kehaar

Kehaar, the seagull who,...

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Watership Down Themes and Characters

The concern for the environment and the focus on leadership combine to form the central theme of the novel, which is the formation of...

(The entire section is 602 words.)

Watership Down Characters

Because the effort by Hazel's band is a communal one, none of the rabbits emerges as a dominant personality. Together they act as the novel's...

(The entire section is 344 words.)

Watership Down Character Analysis

Bigwig

Bigwig is a large, powerfully built rabbit, originally a member of his home warren's "Owsla," or police force. His name, Thlayli, literally...

(The entire section is 484 words.)

Fiver

Fiver is an undersized rabbit, the "runt" of a large litter, whose rabbit name, "Hrairoo," literally means "Little Thousand," or "the...

(The entire section is 431 words.)

Other Characters

Blackberry
Blackberry is a very clever rabbit, whose mind is quick and inventive. When the group has to cross a river, he...

(The entire section is 1662 words.)