In Alice in Wonderland, the Hatter (ostensibly not mad yet) is sentenced to death by the Queen of Hearts for “murdering the time” with the song he attempts to sing at her celebration. He escapes death, as many of the characters in the tale do, but not the attention of Time. Time is so angry with the Hatter for “killing” him that Time halts time itself, imprisoning the Hatter in time, at six p.m., the time for tea.
I can’t prove my hypothesis, but I assume that the Hatter went mad after being frozen in time and having to do the same things over and over and over again. What variety could he have found in tea time? Different table settings? New desserts? Were those options even available to him? By the time Alice meets him, he is completely mad and incapable of normal conversation. He tells nonsensical poetry, asks unanswerable questions, and randomly yells, “Tea Time!”
It’s not only the Hatter who is mad. His compatriot, the March Hare, seems equally so. He doesn’t appear to have been at fault for the incident with the Queen nor is he the object of Time’s wrath, yet he remains with the Hatter. He is, like the Hatter, frozen in time and going or possibly already gone mad. Why else would he stay with the Hatter, stuck at tea time, unless something were slightly askew in that head of his?
If the Hatter and the March Hare seem mad, perhaps it’s because we forget how relatable they are. How often do we get stuck in a routine, doing the same thing and writing the same words day after day after day? We become tired of that routine. We complain about it. Sometimes, we do something about it. We find a way to make our routine fun again. We make changes, sometimes drastic ones, to it. We add a new activity to our lives to balance the tedium. We ask for input regarding our writing. Other times, we don’t do anything. We decide to drink the same tea, to eat the same desserts, to use the same serving ware, and to have the same, pointless conversations. Isn’t that mad? Isn’t that “murdering the time”?