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Hazel

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Species:Rabbit
Place of Origin:Sandleford Warren
Gender:Male
Death: Old age
Books
Appears in: Watership Down (book)

Tales from Watership Down (book)

Film appearances
Appears in: Watership Down

Television Series


Hazel (or Hazel-rah, by the Watership Rabbits) is a brave and intelligent buck, the central character in Richard Adams' fantasy novel Watership Down. He was born in the Sandleford Warren, but after hearing Fiver's advice, left the warren to escape the on coming danger. He leads several rabbits out of Sandleford including Bigwig and Pipkin. Believing in Fiver, Hazel leads the rabbits on many adventures before eventually settling on Watership Down. On the way, he earns their trust and loyalty with his quick decisions and understanding nature. With his ability to cultivate the best in everyone around him, the rabbits succeed with his leadership as he makes the most of each of their abilities.

Hazel also appears in Adams' later book, Tales from Watership Down.
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He features in several stories in this book, filling his role as Chief of the Watership warren, and creating a new warren with help from Efrafa, an idea he originally proposed to Woundwort.

PersonalityEdit

Logical, patient and brave, he earns the respect of the other rabbits during the long journey from Sandleford Warren, once settled at Watership Down, his authority was not questioned and he was made Chief rabbit. His leadership rested in his courage, his ability to utilize the abilities of others for the good of the warren, and his ability to bring out the best in others. His greatest achievement was when General Woundwort came to attack The Watership Down. Hazel set out alone to try negotiate peace with Woundwort, however when Woundwort would not accept his offer, he came up with a plan to release the dog from Nuthanger Farm, and finish Woundwort for good.

In the books and the film, Hazel is a thinker not a fighter, relying on Bigwig to deal with physical combat while he uses strategic thinking. However in the television series, Hazel is portrayed as a more ruthless character and a much better fighter, surviving two encounters with the deadly General Woundwort although he knows that if Bigwig cannot defeat the General, then he does not stand a chance. He also leads the attack that destroys Efrafa and by doing so he ironically destroys any chance of making peace with Woundwort who seriously considers changing his ways and living in peace but comes to believe that Hazel is actually no better than he is.

BiographyEdit

Hazel grew up in the Sandleford Warren with his little brother Fiver. One day, Fiver has a vision that tells him that something dreadful will happen to the warren and to all that stay there. He and Fiver attempt to warn the Chief rabbit of Sandleford, and Fiver tells him that they must leave the Warren. The Threarah rejects this idea, as it is close to mating season for the rabbits, and moving an entire warren would do more harm than good.
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Hazel and his brother

Having already considered the idea of leaving because of the way his fellow rabbits were being treated by the Sandleford Owsla, Hazel gathers as many rabbits as he can to join him and leave the Warren. The group taken consisted of Pipkin, Bigwig , Hawkbit, Dandelion, Blackberry, Silver, Acorn, Buckthorn and Speedwell. In the movie, a doe named Violet was added into the group, but was killed. They leave the warren that same night, but are attacked by the Owsla and Captain Holly. Holly tries to prevent Hazel from leaving, but Bigwig intervenes before Hazel is seriously injured. Holly, knowing he could not stand up to Bigwig and the group, retreats.

Hazel leads the rabbits through a forest, narrowly escaping a lendri until they are stopped by the Enborne River. Fiver tells them that they must cross the river, but the other rabbits are wary. Bigwig spots a dog that is loose, and tells them that those who can swim must swim the river, much to Hazel's annoyance. However Blackberry comes up with the idea that they can use a piece of driftwood he found on the bank to carry the weaker rabbits across the water. His idea is a success, despite only Fiver and Blackberry truly understanding what happened.

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Silver questions whether Hazel really knows where they are going.

On the other side of the stream, Hazel comes across a bean-field, where they take shelter and rest. However they are attacked by crows and are made to leave. Pressing on, the rabbits come across a road. Under Bigwig's instruction that it will do them no harm, they cross the road and travel on until they find a copse, and rest again. Speedwell, Acorn, and Hawkbit begin to question Hazel's authority due to the fact that it is not clear as to whether it is Hazel or Bigwig who is in charge.

As it begins to rain, a strange rabbit appears in the field. The rabbit introduces himself as Cowslip, and asks Hazel id he would like to join his warren, which is hidden nearby. Despite being uncertain of Cowslip's intentions, and ignoring Fiver's warnings, they follow Cowslip to his warren.

In Cowslip's Warren they meet Strawberry and his mate, Nildro-hain, whom they get to know very well. In the Great Burrow they listen to the poet Silverweed's poem. This poem frightens Fiver, and he dashes out of the warren in fear.

Hazel, being annoyed with Fiver's actions, takes Bigwig outside to look for him. Bigwig becomes angry at Fiver for putting their position in the warren in danger, and storms off back to the warren to make sure that none of the other rabbits will have anything to do with him again. However Bigwig gets caught in a Shining Wire. Fiver runs to the warren for help, and returns with the rest of the Sandleford rabbits. Blackberry comes up with a plan to free Bigwig. He instructs the rabbits to dig out the peg in the ground to loosen the wire around Bigwigs neck. After the rabbits free Bigwig, now realizing the truth of Fiver's words and Hazel's authority, leave the warren and continue their journey. Strawberry asks whether he can join them, as he no longer wishes to be part of the horrors that plague Cowslip's Warren.

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Upon reaching their destination, Hazel and the others begin to dig permanent holes. Hazel decides to copy the Great Burrow from Cowslips warren, and under instruction from Strawberry, the rabbits manage to dig a large hollow chamber which they named "The Honeycomb." During the night, they find Captain Holly and Bluebell at the foot of the down, badly injured and Holly moaning the lapine word "Zorn." They learn from Holly that Fiver's vision was right, and that the Sandleford Warren was destroyed by man. Holly was determined to find and tell Bigwig that he was wrong, so he followed their tracks across many days. Only he, Bluebell and Pimpernel escaped, however following their tracks, they came across Cowslip's warren, and Pimpernel was killed by them.

One morning Silver and Bigwig come across an injured seagull named Kehaar. Hazel told his rabbits to help him and bring him food, as he could be useful to the warren and should not be left to die. Hazel has realized that the warrens only problem was a lack of does. He asks Keehar to fly and search for other warrens where does may be taken from. The others praise this idea, thinking that Hazel must be as clever as Elarairah himself. Keehar later returns with news of another warren named Efrafa and a nearby farm called Nuthanger Farm where there are some hutch rabbits. Hazel sends some of his rabbits, lead by Keehar, to this new warren with a humble request for does. While the party is away, Hazel goes to Nuthanger Farm to try and free the hutch rabbits. They find four rabbits in the hutch, Clover, Boxwood, Haystack, and Laurel. Hazel and his group manage to free 3 of the hutch rabbits but are discovered by the Farmer as they led the rabbits out into the garden. Hazel is shot distracting the farmers attention away from Dandelion and one of the hutch rabbits. The others believed that Hazel was dead, until Fiver and Blackberry venture to the farm again, and bring him home. Hazel recovered from his wound, however, the bullet left him lame in his back leg.

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Hazel with the gunshot wound from the farm raid.

The return of the expedition party brings bad news and no does. Against Holly's advice, Hazel leads another expedition party to Efrafa to take some does, despite having two does from the Farm, Hazel knew that they would need more to survive. Hazel instructs Bigwig to infiltrate Efrafa and get as many does out as he can, while he and the others wait near the river.Using the same trick as they did to cross the Enborne River, Hazel and his group escape with 10 does on a boat. On their way back to the down, they are found by Captain Campion, who relays their position back to Woundwort.

When Woundwort attacks the warren, Hazel sets out alone to try and solve the dispute by diplomatic reasoning, instead of brute force. However when Woundwort rejected his ideas, he returns to the Honeycomb to seal the runs behind him with the others. While listening to Fiver, who has become trapped in one of his visions, he comes up with an idea to finish Woundwort and his Owsla attackers for good. Taking Blackberry and Dandelion, he flees the warren and creates a relay from Nuthanger Farm to the Warren. At the farm, Hazel sets loose the farm dog, who chases Dandelion and Blackberry to warren. His lame leg began to ache from the long journey, and Hazel is caught by the farm cat. Before he can be killed, he is rescued by the farmers daughter, Lucy, and nursed back to health before being driven up to the down in a Hrududu and set free.

After the defeat of Woundwort, he allowed some of his Owsla rabbits to stay in his warren. With help from the others, he set about deconstructing the ideas and ways of Woundwort and Efrafa, until it did not matter among the rabbits who came from where.

Eventually, a tired, old Hazel is visited by the Black Rabbit of Inle, who asks him to join his Owsla. After reassuring him that his rabbit offspring and companions will be safe, Hazel joins the Black Rabbit in death among the primroses.

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Tales from Watership DownEdit

Hazel appears in the sequel book, fulfilling his role as Cheif rabbit. He, Groundsel and Campion work together to create a new warren, named Vleflain to prevent the other warrens from becoming overcrowded. His authority is tested several times in the book, as he makes decisions that other rabbits find implausible or risky. He came close to losing his leadership in the story "Stonecrop," where he gave shelter to a wandering hutch rabbit named Stonecrop. Stonecrop smelled strongly of man, and almost all the other rabbits wanted to kill him because of the rabbit lore; "a rabbit who smells of man must be killed." Hazel managed to save his position by taking Stonecrop to Vleflain, where he settled in well by saving the warren from weasels.

Hazel gives shelter to a doe and her young litter during the winter. Bigwig was concerned that the doe, Flyairth, may try and take his leadership because she was so strong willed, and had been Chief of her own warren. However, under assurance from Fiver, this did not happen. Flyairth took many of the warrens does, including some of those that had escaped Efrafa, away to make a new warren, as she was frightened because she though Hazel lived too close to man. Hazel took inspiration from Flyairth, and made Hyzenthlay co-chief rabbit.

Television seriesEdit

Hazel appears in the television series as a main character, as Chief of Watership Down. He retains his personality from the book, and eventually learns to be a strong leader, earning the respect of his fellow rabbits and other creatures on the down. He falls in love with Primrose, the series version of Hyzenthlay, and together they have 3 kits, Snowdrop, Mallow and Gilia. He is similar in appearance to his brother, Fiver, however Hazel is taller and has a slimmer build. His design does not change much in Season 3, however he has sharper lines and a more defined style.

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Hazel in Seasons 1 - 2

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Hazel, with Bigwig, in Season 3

TriviaEdit

  • In the movie Hazel was voiced by John Hurt who later went on to voice General Woundwort in the television series.

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