Rabbit, Rabbit: Analysing the Hare/Rabbit Characters in Ukrainian and English Fairy Tales

Iryna Morozova, Odesa Mechnikov National University, Ukraine
Olena Pozharytska, Odesa Mechnikov National University, Ukraine
Email: morpo@ukr.net
Published: June 7, 2023

Citation: Morozova, I., & Pozharytska, O. (2023). Rabbit, Rabbit: Analysing the Hare/Rabbit Characters in Ukrainian and English Fairy Tales. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.12.1.08


Artistic images of animal characters in beast stories studied through the prism of national mentality reveal specific animal-human concepts rooted in the readers’ mindsets. This essay focuses on the hare/rabbit as a popular character in animal tales, with an attempt to enhance intercultural relations in the Ukrainian/English world by explaining the peculiarities of the surrounding reality present in beast stories. The paper discloses similar and distinctive characteristics of animal stories on two levels, that is, by contrasting the author’s literary tale with the folk-tale, and by studying the collective image of hare in Ukrainian folk-tales against the background of Peter Rabbit from Beatrix Potter’s stories. The research does not dwell on the zoological peculiarities of the chosen animals or the Aesop fables, but highlights the psychological characteristics of the animals under study in the context of their “national identities”. The work results in disclosing a deep connection between games and animal tales; since both the storyteller’s and the audience’s mental work is based on the game-like perception of the virtual world of the story. The literary images of the hare/rabbit in Ukrainian and British tales differ radically. Ukrainian animals are presented as meek and subdued creatures relying on outside help and rarely (ranking sixth amongst animal protagonists) becoming the leading characters. In contrast, British bunnies are energetic and boisterous, trying their best to overcome any difficulties. The authors explain this fact by references to differences in the historical development of the two cultures under analysis.


animal tale, author’s tale, folk tale, hare/rabbit, national identity, Peter Rabbit