Source Material of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

6th July, 2011 - Posted by DisAnim - Comments Off on Source Material of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Disney The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

The Wind in the Willows
This children’s book was published in 1908 and written by Kenneth Grahame. Cyril Proudbottom and Mr. Winkie are both Disney additions to the story. In fact, Disney’s version focuses primarily on Mr. Toad, but the original book had important sections that were completely without him. In fact, a mystical segment where Rat and Mole end up in an encounter with the demigod Pan is completely missing from the Disney version.

I was curious to see if there were humans in the book as well, and there were. In fact, one of them also has pets (which brings up the whole Goofy/Pluto type debate). What I found interesting is that Toad can pass as an old woman as long as he is wearing the old woman’s clothes.

One major difference is that Toad isn’t just accused of stealing a motorcar in the book—he actually does steal one! He also repeatedly lies after he breaks jail, and he takes a woman’s horse and later sells it to a gypsy. In the end, he is never recaptured and placed back in jail (despite the fact that he was never acquitted). And ultimately, the only thing that can calm his wild nature is to watch Mole get praised lavishly while he is not.

Speaking of Mole, he is a much more important character in the book. In Disney’s version, he’s good-natured but doesn’t appear to be that bright. In the book, he ends up being particularly clever and reliable.

Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book:
“O my, how cold the water was, and O, how very wet it felt.”
“Now that he was merely Toad, and no longer the Terror of the Highway, he giggled feebly.”
“Twelve months for the theft… three years for the furious driving… and fifteen years for the cheek… So you had better make it a round twenty years and be on the safe side.”
“Indeed, much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and the raciest adventures.”

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving originally wrote this story and published it in 1820. It’s one of the oldest pieces of American fiction that is still commonly read today. He goes into quite a bit of detail that is unfortunately lost on the Disney version. For example, it is mentioned that the Headless Horseman was a Hessian soldier (German mercenary) from the American Revolution who lost his head by a cannonball. Several other details are lost, such as further explanations of Ichabod’s courtship with Katrina. For example, it is insinuated that Ichabod proposes to her and she declines the night of Ichabod’s encounter with the Headless Horseman. It also more strongly suggests that Brom Bones was really the Headless Horseman.

Probably the thing that really struck me was that in the Disney version, the Horseman’s head is obviously a pumpkin. In the story, no mention is made of a pumpkin until the very end, when the townsfolk discover Ichabod’s hat by pieces of pumpkin.

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