Beatrix Potter

Start Free Trial

In Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter is the typically disobedient child, but Mrs. Rabbit is quite an exceptional mother. Discuss.

In Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter is disobedient in that he disobeys his mother's rule not to enter Mr. McGregor's garden. Peter is forced to make a dangerous and fearful escape from Mr. McGregor and a cat. Peter's irresponsibility is also exhibited by losing his jacket and shoes. Mother Rabbit is portrayed as an exceptional mother for criticizing her son for irresponsibly losing his clothes while also displaying love by taking care of him.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter portrays the typical naughty child. Mother Rabbit tells her children not to play in Mr. McGregor's garden, as their father was killed when trespassing there. As a mother to young children, Mother Rabbit does not tell them how their father was killed; she wishes to spare them both from a similar fate and the emotional trauma of knowing the circumstances of his death.

Peter is inherently disobedient and immediately goes to explore Mr. McGregor's garden. Mr. McGregor eventually spots him, and Peter desperately flees. The experience is terrifying for Peter, as he is initially unable to remember the way out of the garden, loses both of his shoes, and is forced to leave his fancy blue jacket when he is caught in a gooseberry net. Peter is safe when he hides in a watering can in the tool shed, but Mr. McGregor pursues him again when he hears him sneeze. Peter then evades Mr. McGregor after jumping out the window.

On top of harrowing escape, Peter becomes thoroughly lost. A mouse is unhelpful in Peter's attempt to ask for help, and he starts to cry. He spots a cat in the garden and naturally decides against asking for help, as the cat would view him as prey. Peter then spots the gate leading out of the garden and is chased by Mr. McGregor again.

Peter makes it home, and his mother criticizes him for losing the second pair of jacket and shoes within the two weeks. Feeling ill, Peter is sent to bed by Mother Rabbit. She suspects accurately that he has been in McGregor's garden and gives him chamomile tea for his stomach ache. While Peter's mother calls attention to Peter's irresponsibility, she also soothes and takes care of him. These actions demonstrate that she is an exceptional mother, recognizing the importance of demonstrating authority and love toward her children.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team