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Why The White Rabbit In The Matrix Means More Than You Think

It's been over 20 years since "The Matrix" was released in theaters, but the film has managed to stay relevant to modern audiences in more ways than one. Its use of slow motion and expertly crafted and choreographed action scenes have arguably had a larger influence on modern sci-fi action movies than any other film in recent memory. Not only that, but many consider the first "Matrix" to easily be the best of the original trilogy, as the other two films did not enjoy nearly as much of a warm reception from fans or critics.

While many are still speculating and trying their best to predict the plot of the upcoming "Matrix 4," others are diving deeper into the themes and imagery present in the original film. There are many classical literary references sprinkled throughout the entire trilogy, but perhaps none more important than the white rabbit. It's a key piece of imagery that arguably starts protagonist Neo's (Keanu Reeves) journey toward finding out exactly what the Matrix is, and how it'll change the rest of his life.

With that in mind, the white rabbit present throughout "The Matrix" is a far more important plot device than some fans might realize. In fact, it ties directly into a lot of the thematic elements that would come to define not only the original "Matrix," but the entire trilogy as a whole.

The white rabbit symbolizes Neo's journey in The Matrix

Among the mind-twisting terminology and references present throughout the "Matrix" films, the white rabbit symbolizes perhaps the most important part of Neo's character arc. Neo's own journey down the rabbit hole, in a lot of ways, mirrors Alice's adventures in "Alice in Wonderland," from the dream-like quality of some of the events that take place to a loss of innocence and naivety. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) even points this out early in the movie with a direct piece of dialogue.

Another thing that both Neo and Alice share is how their journeys begin: by following a white rabbit. For Neo, it's a tattoo of the white rabbit, while for Alice, it's a bit more literal. Either way, it's a testament to both characters' innate sense of curiosity, which the white rabbit metaphorically represents, that properly starts their journey and changes their lives forever. For Neo, this would come to define and mold his character arc throughout the entire original "Matrix" trilogy, as he taps into his powers and embraces his role as The One.

It was a smart move on directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski's part to include this as part of Neo's journey. While the use of the white rabbit has commonly been defined as one who "moves rapidly or hurriedly from place to place," the term has evolved to be a more metaphorical representation of curiosity or seeking out strange, new experiences that are potentially filled with danger. Surely, there's no better description or mission statement for "The Matrix" than that.