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|The Wind in the Willows character|
Illustration by E.H. Shepard
|First appearance||Wind in the Willows|
|Created by||Kenneth Grahame|
Mr. Toad is an anthropomorphic common toad, portrayed as the village squire and a bit of a fop, being the wealthy occupant and owner of Toad Hall. Mr. Toad is very rich, has his own horse, and thus able to indulge his impulsive desires, such as punting, house boating and hot air balloons, and his penchant for Harris tweed suits. Toad is intelligent, creative and resourceful however he is also narcissistic, self-centred almost to the point of sociopathy, and completely lacking in even the most basic common sense. His reckless interest in motor cars led to an episode in which he stole a motor car and subsequently crashed it. The result was a brief spell in prison, from which he was to escape, dressed as a washer woman, to regain his family seat of Toad Hall from the clutches of the weasels.
Interestingly, although he commits a crime and is arrested, and the police try to recapture him and send him back to prison when they discover he has escaped, they never succeed. Nobody has ever given this reason for this, except in the 1949 Disney movie, which shows him being framed for theft when he should be in jail for twenty-years. In The Willows in Winter, the sequel to the 1995 animated film, Mr. Toad is busted by the Chief Judge as the villain he sent to prison before, and he is being pursued for a sentence back into prison.
During the course of his adventures Toad alternates between deep remorse for his arrogance and having relapses of it. An example of his arrogance is seen in his self-centred ditty, Toad's Last Little Song, a song he performs to an enthusiastic audience which exists, of course, only in his mind;
The Toad- came- home!
When-the-Toad-came-home There was panic in the parlours and howling in the halls,
There was crying in the cow-sheds and shrieking in the stalls,
When the Toad- came- home!
When the Toad- came- home!
There was smashing in of window and crashing in of door,
There was chivvying of weasels that fainted on the floor,
When the Toad-came home!
Bang! go the drums!
The trumpeters are tooting and the soldiers are saluting,
And the cannon they are shooting and the motor-cars are hooting,
As the- Hero- comes!
And let each one of the crowd try and shout it very loud,
In honour of an animal of whom you’re justly proud,
For it’s Toad’s- great- day!
This is Toad's final bow as he has finally resolved to change his conceited ways.
Film and television
- In the 1949 Disney film adaptation The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (which also contains a version of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), the character's full name is given as "J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq." This version of Mr. Toad makes a cameo appearance in the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit while riding a firetruck and dressed in a fire-fighter uniform. He also appeared as Fezziwig in Mickey's Christmas Carol, and was featured as one of the guests in House of Mouse.
- The Reluctant Dragon and Mr. Toad Show, a 1970 show by Rankin/Bass.
- The Wind in the Willows, a 1983 animated film version with stop-motion puppets by Cosgrove Hall.
- The Wind in the Willows, a TV series (1984–1990) following the stop-motion film, done in the same style. There was a host of famous names in the cast, including David Jason, Sir Michael Hordern, Peter Sallis and Ian Carmichael.
- The Wind in the Willows, in this 1995 animated film and its sequel The Willows in Winter, Toad is voiced by Rik Mayall.
- The BBC produced a version of the Wind in the Willows in 2006, in which all the animal characters were portrayed in human form. Toad was played by Matt Lucas.
For many years there was a ride at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom called Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The ride was closed on September 7, 1998. The Disneyland California version of the ride is still open.
The inspiration for Mr. Toad's wayward mischievousness and boastfulness was Kenneth Grahame's only child Alastair: a family friend, Constance Smedley, overheard Grahame telling Alastair the exploits of Toad as a bedtime story, and noted that "Alastair's own tendency to exult in his exploits was gently satirized in Mr. Toad". Colonel Francis Cecil Ricardo CVO CBE (1852–1924), the first owner of a car in Cookham in Berkshire, where Grahame wrote the books is also thought to have been an influence.
Actors who have played Mr. Toad
- Eric Blore - The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
- David Jason - The Wind in the Willows (1983 film)
- Charles Nelson Reilly - The Wind in the Willows (1987 film)
- Rik Mayall - The Wind in the Willows (1995 film)
- Terry Jones - The Wind in the Willows (1996 film)
- Matt Lucas - The Wind in the Willows (2006 film)
- Nathan Lane - In the first stage Musical adaptation.
- Griff Rhys Jones
- Jack Speckleton - on stage.
- Adam Graham
- Ian Carmichael - on stage and as a voice actor
- Jack Lovegrove - on stage.
- Triple H - in script movie by Joel Beckford
References in other media
The first story arc of the Batman and Robin comic book by Grant Morrison features a villainous character with the name and appearance of Mr. Toad. After Batman and Robin interrogate Toad, he's revealed to be in cahoots with Pyg. This same character also appears in the animated series Beware the Batman.
A gravestone for Mr. Toad is shown among the other fables buried at The Farm in Bill Willingham's Fables series. However, in The Wolf Among Us—a downloadable episodic video game set during the 1980s in the Fables universe—Mr. Toad is still alive and appears as a non-player character.
In season 2, episode 2 of Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess says to her granddaughter Lady Edith Crawley, "Edith! You're a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall!," after Lady Edith announces at dinner that she has volunteered to operate a tractor at a farm on the estate because the men who normally operate it are away fighting in The Great War.
- Mattanah, Jonathan. "A Contemporary Psychological Understanding of Mr. Toad" in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows: A Children's Classic at 100 edited by Jackie C. Horne, Donna R. White. Scarecrow Press, 2009: pp. 93-94.
- "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "The Wind in the Willows (1983/I) (TV)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "The Wind in the Willows (1987) (TV)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "The Wind in the Willows (1995) (TV)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "The Wind in the Willows (1996)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "The Wind in the Willows (2006) (TV)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Batman & Robin Vol. 1 #1