Saturday, 18 May 2013

Character Profiling: The Mad Hatter

"I'd know him anywhere!”

~ The Mad Hatter

Tarrant Hightopp, more commonly known known as The Mad Hatter (also spelled Hatta), is a fictional character from Lewis Carroll's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. As Alice and the March Hare are the only other individuals to appear in both books, he can be considered a principal character. Although he is never referenced as 'The Mad Hatter' in either of Carroll's books, the Hatter is portrayed as 'mad' and hence has become known as such. Johnny Depp portrayed the Mad Hatter in the 2010 movie. In the movie, he is known for his Futterwacken which is a dance of immense joy.

Origin of the Phrase

The phrase "as mad as a hatter" refers to the 19th century usage of a mercury-based compound in the making of fine hats. Due to long-term exposure, hatters would often develop symptoms of mercury posioning, such as tremors or mood-swings, that would make them appear "mad" to others.[1]



Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Hatter explains to Alice that he and the March Hare are trapped in a never-ending tea party because, when he tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at a celebration, she sentenced him to death for "murdering the time." He escaped this fate, but Time, out of anger at his attempted to "murder", has halted himself for the Hatter, keeping him and the March Hare at 6:00 pm forever. The tea party, when Alice arrives, involves switching places at the table at any given time (although based on the rotation, the Hatter is the only one to receive a clean cup since the other characters follow him); making (along with the March Hare) somewhat short, personal remarks; asking unanswerable riddles, and reciting nonsensical poetry, all of which eventually drive Alice away. The Hatter appears again as a witness at the Knave of Hearts' trial, where the Queen appears to recognize him as the singer she sentenced to death, and the King of Hearts also cautions him not to be nervous "or I'll have you executed on the spot."

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

When the character makes his appearance as "Hatta" in Through the Looking-Glass, he is in trouble with the law once again. This time, however, he is not necessarily guilty: the White Queen explains that quite often subjects are punished before they commit a crime, rather than after, and sometimes they are condemned for crimes they haven't commited. The Hatter is also mentioned as one of the White King's messengers (the other is the March Hare) when the King explains that he needs two messengers: "one to come, and one to go." Sir James Tenniel's illustration also depicts him sipping from a teacup as he did before in the original novel, adding weight to Carroll's hint that the two characters are indeed the same. Although he look exactly the same with the first book, it seem Alice doesn't recognize him as the Mad Hatter. The dramatis personae for Through the Looking-Glass designates him as being a white pawn.[2]

Other Appearances

Disney's Film Adaptations

The Mad Hatter is voiced by Ed Wynn in Disney's 1951 film. He is first seen when Alice wonders off in the forest and the Cheshire Cat tells her to visit them for directions back home. Alice visits but in the middle of a very odd Tea Party with the March Hare, The Mad Hatter and the Dormouse. The Mad Hatter and March Hare are singing A Very Merry Unbirthday but is interrupted when Alice starts to clap. First The Mad Hatter and March Hare are upset because Alice was not asked to join but become pleased when Alice explains to them that she enjoyed their singing and they welcome her to join. As Alice tries to explain The Mad Hatter and March Hare try to change the subject. Soon the party is once again interrupted by the White Rabbit. Alice tries to converse with him but Mad Hatter and March Hare drive him away. He is later seen at the court scene. The Mad Hatter is known as a witness along with the March Hare and Dormouse. The Mad Hatter apeared in Disney Parks and Disney's House of Mouse.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton's Mad Hatter, named Tarrant Hightopp, first met Alice when she was a young child at the age of seven. They became friends quickly, even enjoying tea together. Alice forgot these memories while she was away from Underland, but at the age of nineteen, Alice falls down the rabbit hole again. She has no recollection of Tarrant when she rediscovers his tea table of friends and joins them in their rebellion against the Red Queen.

Tarrant quickly tries to help Alice, especially when the Red Queen's minions come to him looking for her. He gives Alice a potion that shrinks her, then hides her in a teapot and pretends that he's never seen her, even after being choked by the Red Queen's Knave of Hearts, Stayne.

After Stayne leaves, Tarrant takes Alice on a journey to Marmoreal and explains the Red Queen's reign of terror over Underland on the way. Soon, the Red Queen's minions pick up Alice's scent and start chasing them. With no other options, and the enemy approaching, Tarrant puts Alice atop his hat and flings it across a river to the opposite side (saving her from the Red Knights), but then draws attention to himself and gets captured in the process. He is taken away as Alice watches on.

Stayne tries to toture him for information on Alice's location but his insanity protects him from the torture methods.

When Alice arrives in Crims, Tarrant is brought into the throne room, and decides to distract the Red Queen from executing him by hatting her. During his time as her prisoner, he makes many hats for her to try on. However, when the Queen tries them on, she hates all of them.

After Alice is discovered and escapes, Tarrant is ordered to be executed. However, at the execution, he and the Cheshire Cat work together to help him escape-the cat disguises himself as Tarrant using shapeshifting abilities and his hat, thus leaving Tarrant free. After the ruse is discovered, Tarrant angers the Red Queen by turning her people against her, then retreats to Marmoreal. There, the White Queen decides that they must have a champion to destroy the Jabberwock. When Alice, the prophesized slayer of the beast, she doesn't step up, Tarrant is the first to say that he will do it. Alice, however, is the only one that can defeat the Jabberwock, and no one else can take the position. Alice shockingly arrives and is ready for battle against the foul beast. They march towards battle.

The Red Queen quickly sends forth her champion, and so Alice steps forward as well. The battle between the two begins. However, Tarrant quickly interferes with Alice's battle with the Jabberwock by pricking its tail with his sword when it threw Alice down rather forcefully. There is noticable fury in his eyes. This starts a war between the Red Queen and the White Queen's armies.

Stayne draws his sword, and he and Tarrant quickly engage in a sword fight. Not long after, Tarrant disarms Stayne and knocks him to the ground, raising his sword above his head, and ready to impale Stayne. At this point it is recognizable that he is in a state of madness because his eyes are yellow.

Tarrant nearly kills the Knave, but is stopped when he notices Alice slay the Jabberwock. He then throws the sword aside, disgusted. After the battle, and victory, Tarrant celebrates with his famous dance, the Futterwhacken. Alice chooses to leave Wonderland later, to the sadness of Tarrant. He bids her farewell, and she leaves.

Tarrant's origins involve him with the Hightopp Clan, which was destroyed by the Jabberwock, sent by the Red Queen during a visit by the White Queen to their village on the "Horevendush Day". Though the White Queen was safely spirited away, the Vorpal Sword (as well as her crown) was lost in the confusion. Tarrant is the only member of his clan left- everybody and everything else was killed or burned to the ground. Tarrant only escaped the destruction because he led the White queen's panicked horse away from the intial attack. He returns after to find the village burnt to the ground, a shocked look on his face he bends down to pick up his trademark hat. When we next see his face it is clear from the half smile that his sanity has shattered. A scene of Tarrant's past can be seen-the Jabberwock blowing fire down on the clan, when he and Alice are traveling and they pass through the remains of his home, causing him to briefly flash back to the destruction.

The destruction of his clan broke something in Tarrant's mind - causing him to become detatched from reality and also develop a slight split personality. When he becomes upset his eyes change from green to a golden yellow and he begins speaking in a noticeable Scottish brogue. Tarrant can become violent in this state unless somone snaps him out of it. Mallymkun the Dormouse snaps him out of it the first time by shouting, "Hatter!!" when he is about to attack the Chesire cat who he hates for disapearing during the attack on his clan. Alice later snaps him out of one of his episodes when he is imprisoned at the Red Queen's castle making hats. Tarrant himself is vagely aware of his personality problem telling Alice that he has to get out of the Red Queen's castle saying its getting harder for him to think clearly there. It is implied he has a crush on Alice, although Johnny Depp, who portray the Hatter, said in a Facebook feaurette (also found on youtube) that Tarrant and Alice "complete each other as a brother and sister would. He is very protective of her and she is very protective of him." In a draft by Linda Woolverton, there was a romance between the Hatter and Alice that included two kisses. However, in spite of the fact that Woolverton had written the Hatter's character with Johnny Depp in mind, once the actor was actually cast the script was rewritten to exlcude the romance and the character rewritten to suit Depp (Disney's Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, p. 35-38). Unfortunately for true Alice fans, Burton and Depp's Mad Hatter was completely different from the one in the books. The 2010 film portrays him as a tortured action hero while in the books he was an eccentric man and an antagonist to Alice.
Tarrant during final battle

In the Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor, the Mad Hatter is portrayed as Hatter Madigan, the leader of the Queen's personal guard, his hat being his main weapon. The top hat has blades in it that could cut through card soldiers like butter.

In 2009, Hatter was portrayed by Andrew Lee Potts in the re-imagined version Alice. In this version, Hatter runs the tea shop where people in Wonderland get the emotions that are extracted from captive humans. Hatter is part of the rebellion against the Queen of Hearts, and is somewhat hard to decipher at first. He turns out to be a "good guy" in the end, as well as a romantic interest of the re-done Alice.

Hatter is known for having a "Sledgehammer" left hook witch is noted to be extremely strong; Dodo is continuously weary of it during their encounter. Towards the end of the series, Hatter is seen killing Mad March by breaking the fake rabbit head on his body with the help of his "sledgehammer".

Video Games

  • The Hatter makes an appearance as an enemy in American McGee's Alice.
  • In the otome game Heart no Kuni no Alice, he appears as Blood Dupre, the mafia boss of the Hatter family and one of the characters who fall in love with Alice.
  • He appears in the DS game A Witch's Tale as a guy named Mad Hatter who suddenly appears before Liddell, a witch-in-training who attends a magic academy.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, the Mad Hatter, along with the March Hare, make a very minor appearance in Wonderland: they are part of a picture in the Tea Party Garden. When approached, a message appears, saying "A very merry unbirthday. Sit to get your present," and Sora and company will have to sit on the correct chairs. The expressions of the Mad Hatter and March Hare change with the outcome; if Heartless appear in the area, they become shocked; if Sora manages to get all the presents, they initially smile, but put on a sad face when the message "That's all the presents" appears.
  • In Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland game, the Mad Hatter has a special ability, Perspective, in which he can visualize pictures into reality by lining up certain angles, he also can connect bridges or ropes in the same way. In the game, he hates the Cheshire Cat because he leaves when his village was attacked by the Jabberwocky instead of helping him fight. But later he needs Chessur's help after Alice convinces him to ask the Cat for help. His character is also slightly different than in the movie as the Hatter in the game often swings the Vorpal Sword around in a grandiose manner whenever he has the sword in hand, especially in the presence of the White Queen. He is the one to return to Vorpal Sword to the White Queen, rather than Alice. It is also interesting that the Hatter is the one to send Alice home, not by way of Jabberwocky blood, but by tricking her into drinking a potion that he calls "Futterwacken potion" after asking her to dance.


  • The Hatter appears in one episode of the anime Card Captor Sakura. He was really similar to Sakura's brother Touya Kinomoto.
  • In CLAMP's Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter counterpart is a hatted woman who takes the tea in the top of a flower with The March Hare and The Mouse, she posseses a magical pipe that can shoot a beam to transport people, as she did with Miyuki.
  • The character Xerxes Break from the anime Pandora Hearts seems to be based off of the Hatter. This can be drawn from his "mad" behavior and the fact his nickname is "Hatter". In addition, Break's chain is also based off of the Hatter: the "Mad Hatter" chain takes the appearance of a large top hat with an equally large red eye underneath it.
  • He also appears in the anime adaption by Nippon Animation Fushigi no Kuni no Alice.
  • In the anime Project ARMS, one of the Keith series ARMS weapon was code named the Mad Hatter.

Other Appearances

  • Steve Buscemi plays The Mad Hatter in a skit on Saturday Night Live.
  • In the manga series Heart no Kuni no Alice he appears there as more of a normal human with the March Hare.
  • In the manga, Are You Alice?, the Mad Hatter is a character that protects a young man named "Alice."
  • In the manga, Angel Sanctuary, Belial, a fallen angel and the Satan of Pride, is also called Mad Hatter
  • One of the villains from the Batman franchise is a deranged man who thinks he is the Mad Hatter.
  • There is a robot known as the Mad Hatterbot in Futurama who resembles the Mad Hatter, who shouts out "CHANGE PLACES!" which all robots who near him obey.

Real People

  • Wayne Borean, aka The Mad Hatter, writer of the Through the Looking Glass blog at MadHatter.Ca.
  • Jacob David McKinley, aka Tha Madd Hatter. Rapper from Long Beach, California. Music by Tha Madd Hatter

Memorable Quotes

  • There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter...which luckily I am. - Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • If you knew time as well as I, you wouldn't dream of wasting it! - American McGee's Alice

  • What a regrettably large head you have. I would very much like to hat it. I used to hat the White Queen, you know. It wasn't very much to work with. Poor dear. Her head was so small. - Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • You ran out on them to save your own skin, you guddler's scuttish pilgar-lickering, shukm-juggling sluking urpal. Bar lom muck egg brimni! - Alice in Wonderland (2010)

  • Well, then, Shall it be a bonnet or a boater? Or something for the boduoir? Cloche, dunce hat, death cap, coif, snood, barboosh, pugree, yarmulke, cockle-hat, porkpie, tam-o'-shanter, billycock, bicorn, tricorn, bandeau, bongrace, fan-tail, nightcap, garibaldi, fez... - Alice in Wonderland (2010)


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