by Richard Adams
Watership Down Theme of Power
In Watership Down, power comes in many forms, but it generally has one result: making others do what you want. The simplest form of power is just brute strength: that's the power used by bully rabbits like Toadflax (Sandleford) and Vervain (Efrafa). Even good rabbits aren't afraid to use force to get things done. But other (and more interesting) rabbits have a whole range of other powers, including Blackberry's inventing power, Hazel's intelligence and cleverness, and the power to inspire others, like Dandelion does with stories and Woundwort does with his great bravery (and tremendous violence). Now that's power.
Questions About Power
- Who is the most powerful rabbit in the book? Hazel, with his cleverness? Woundwort, with his violence? Fiver, with his strange psychic powers?
- Does Watership Down have a lesson about power? Is power always good? Or does it depend on how it is used?
- How does the community deal with power? Do powers usually disrupt stable home-life or make the home more secure in this book?
- What are the best uses of power in this book? Who uses power best? When do powerful rabbits fail (like Hazel raiding Nuthanger Farm and Woundwort's war on Watership Down)—and why do they fail at those times?
Chew on This
In Watership Down, the most powerful rabbits use their intelligence more than their strength.
Watership Down constantly reminds us that rabbits are weak, vulnerable to everything from weather, to predators, to human development.