Character Study- The Mad Hatter
I’ve often thought about making a case study of the Mad Hatter. I suppose though, that I’m too close to the problem to be purely objective or clinical about him. But then, I’m also right in the eye of the storm, so my perspective is clearer than anyone else’s.
The Mad Hatter is a dangerous man, of that there is no doubt. His stunted emotional growth is the direct result of an abusive and uncaring mother, and an indifferent and violent father, both of whom he loves to emulate and quote. The cycle of systematic and organized domestic abuse is quite endless, it seems. He remembers his childhood through a staggeringly mindless ‘it was for our benefit’ filter, and he implements the same rules on our house, with extra clauses to make sure that we turn out just like him.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
You see, we have an active realization of the fact that this is, in reality, a sick man. And he is a sick man. His neuroses and obsessions and delusions, are the stuff that psychiatrists’ dream of. Imagine for a moment. A massive, physically imposing hulk of a man who rules his house with an iron hand (and rod, and chair, really anything that’s close by). He’s obsessive, neurotic, aggressive at the slightest provocation, hypomanic and rabid at alternating intervals, and so much more, but only for his family.
Only his family. Only the people he knows are tied to him, who are beneath him. We’re the only ones who know exactly what he is. The minute the gate closes, the minute we’re out of these four walls, he’s an adorable, congenial father figure. Laughing and joking and narrating stories from his life and career. All charisma and charm. He draws in friends by the dozens, they come seeking counsel and company. His friends’ children come by regularly, asking his advice on their studies and their careers. No one notices the odd jumpy way in which his family responds to his ‘requests’. No one notices the haunted look in their eyes, the lack of a meaningful smile on their faces. The Perfect Dad and Husband mask stays on till there is company, and then it back to the Neanderthal we know.
It brings to mind a quote, I think I read it a long time ago. I remember Sherlock Holmes saying that “he lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside...Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser”. And how true he was. The Hatter is an extremely dangerous man. He’s mad, truly mad, and cunning enough not to let anyone see it. Well, too bad for him we see his sickness and know it, know him.
And we plan to never be anything like him.