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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 who is the village squire, being the wealthy owner and occupant of Toad Hall. Toad is very rich and a bit of a fop, with a penchant for Harris tweed suits. He owns his own horse, and is able to indulge his impulsive desires, such as punting, house boating and hot air ballooning. 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 leads to an episode in which he steals a car and subsequently crashes it. The result is a twenty-year prison sentence, but he escapes, dressed as a washer woman, to regain his family seat of Toad Hall from the clutches of the weasels.
Although he has escaped from gaol, and the police initially pursue him, he is never re-arrested. No reason is ever given for this, but in the 1949 Disney movie, he is shown as 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, Toad is recognised by the Chief Judge as the villain he convicted before and is hauled before a court, but he is released because of several good deeds he has done since his escape.
During the course of his adventures Toad alternates between deep remorse for his arrogance and having relapses into 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, in which the character is voiced by David Jason.
- 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 Wind in the Willows, a 1996 live action production (later released in the US home video market as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) which featured four of the six members of the Monty Python troupe.
- 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
- Leslie Henson - Numerous stage adaptations throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
- 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 - In Alan Bennett's original stage adaptation.
- 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.
Mr. Toad appears briefly in Bill Willingham's Fables series. He is a member of anti-Fabletown Farm revolution and can be seen later on various occasions, mostly as a non-speaking character. In most recent comics, his gravestone is shown among the other fables buried at The Farm. The character appears in The Wolf Among Us— a downloadable episodic video game set during the 1980s, before the events of Fables — where he 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.
In Episode 19.01 of Top Gear, James May criticizes Richard Hammond's outfit (a dark green blazer and dark blue vest) by saying "...can I direct you to your jacket? Before you say I'm locked in 1953, Mr. Toad."
- 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