Human nature of children, adolescents, and teens will at times resurrect the urge to approach a rebellious stance, which include receiving various body piercings, consuming alcohol, and listening to loud music. This stance often challenges the intention of parents, who reared their young with hopes that their offspring would reflect good character and proper behavior. Consequently, rebellious children must endure negative repercussions, often affecting their security and personal freedom. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit approaches this concept in a way relatable to youngsters. In this children’s book, a mischievous rabbit named Peter disobeys his mother’s wishes of not visiting Mr. McGregor’s garden. His bad side ultimately kicks in, and Peter is forced to escape the clutches of the evil Mr. McGregor. In The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter uses the character of Peter Rabbit to argue the curiosity of young individuals causes them to pursue riskier decisions that contradict the command of their elders, thus resulting in detrimental consequence regarding their safety.
The story begins with Mrs. Rabbit cautioning Peter and his three siblings, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail, to stay away from Mr. McGregor’s garden, as their father had perished there and “was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor”. (Potter 10). Being good and obedient bunnies, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail went to the lane to gather blackberries; meanwhile, a mischievous Peter slipped under the gate into Mr. McGregor’s garden. After consuming lettuce and radishes, Peter stumbled upon Mr. McGregor “planting out young cabbages”, who soon got up and angrily chased Peter (26). When Peter finally manages to evade Mr. McGregor’s sight, he stumbles upon the gate in which he entered the garden. However, lurking in between he and the gate was none other than Mr. McGregor. Using his speed and agility as his advantage, Peter successfully runs under the gate and sprints all the way home. Exhausted and without clothing (as he had lost his shoes and jacket), Peter is given a spoonful of chamomile tea and put to bed. His siblings enjoy bread, blackberries, and milk for supper.
Peter Rabbit, through both negligence and curiosity, embarks on an adventure through Mr. McGregor’s garden, disrespecting his mother’s consent. Mrs. Rabbit clearly warned Peter that their “father had an accident there” and “to not get into mischief”. (Potter 10 and 13). The reader can assume that Peter either possesses the traits of a bad child and “was very naughty” or has a keen sense of adventure, not intentionally disobeying Mrs. Rabbit’s consent, but rather exploring the possibilities that lie beyond the gate to Mr. McGregor’s garden. (18). The curiosity within a youth, or any individual in that matter, motivates him/her to engage in countless opportunities pursuable through self-interest. However, youths often have trouble distinguishing between safety and danger due to a general lack of common knowledge, as with age comes wisdom. Peter’s childlike conduct initiated a conflict that would prove difficult to conquer. In Peter’s case, the effects of his haphazard decision regard negative consequence. The bulk of the story exhibits Peter’s drastic attempt to evade capture by Mr. McGregor as a result of his poor judgment.
At one point Peter becomes trapped in a gooseberry net and “gave himself up for lost and shed big tears”. (Potter 33). Not only was Peter feeling weary and exhausted from running, he now grieved for the belief that he would not make it out alive. With a stroke of luck, however, Peter wriggled free from the net and the chase continued. He desperately squeezed into a watering can and became drenched in water. Peter was wet, cold, and “trembling with fright”, thus adding to his depressed mental state. (42). When Peter finally breaks free of torment within the garden and runs all the way through the woods and home, he “flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit hole and shut his eyes. (54).
His fatigue had set in and thee weary Peter, as a result of his combined curiosity and disobedience, retired to bed. Such consequence contrasts his siblings’ as they “had bread and milk and blackberries for supper”, a kind reward for their cooperation and not giving into curiosity. Beatrix Potter’s reason for composing this childrens’ book was to caution the children of her era (England in the early 1900s) from doing naughty things. Moreover, it is the curious nature within a youth that too provokes him/her. Peter succumbed to the inner voice that told him to actualize the plan and did so without consulting common sense, whereas Mrs. Rabbit forbade him from doing so. Consequently, Peter faced dilemma after dilemma in Mr. McGregor’s garden that caused him both physical and emotional pain. Peter Rabbit, along with young individuals in human society who disobey their parents, give into curiosity and ultimately face abominable consequence.