“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 41: “Breaking Babbitty”

Deconstruct Beedle the Bard’s tale “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump” with us in our latest bonus episode!



Katy and Emily talk with Katherine Sas (University of Pennsylvania) about the wizard fairy tale featuring the wily and witchy Babbitty Rabbitty. We discuss how J.K. Rowling developed the concept and how it connects with the themes of the Harry Potter series. Is this a story about death, as Albus Dumbledore suggests? The story demonstrates the ways people manage their deepest fears. Considering that this story plays on common fairy tale tropes and undermines them, we talk about the fusion of the Trickster and the Crone, and Kat reminds us that Babbitty Rabbitty shares characteristics with Baba Yaga from Slavic folk tales.

We also discuss the animal imagery used in the story and contemplate heroic rabbits in literature, including Watership Down. Beedle’s tale also has a political dimension that highlights Rowling’s themes about the abuse of power and the courage of marginalized and overlooked people. In the face of violent power, Babbitty remains unbroken and laughing.

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Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.