The Wind in the Willows is widely accepted as a children’s novel. To some extent, this classification is justified since its story consists of the adventures of a Mole, a Rat, a Badger, and a stubborn toad. But the line is drawn there. The story may be told in the manner of animal adventures, but thematically it goes deeper catering more to the young adult/adult audiences.
The interesting characters of the Mole, the Rat, the Badger, and the stubborn Toad, and their adventures teach the values of friendship, loyalty, dire consequences of greed, pride and vanity, and more importantly the value of protecting and blending in with nature. When Kenneth Grahame wrote it, the United Kingdom was under an industrial and technological revolution. Industrial and technological progress marred the established agricultural economy. It also threatened the people’s natural relationship with nature. If the story is privy to his perspective, one can feel Grahame’s disapproval of these new developments that threatened the natural environment and its relationship with the people.
The adventures of these different characters were interesting in themselves. However, my enjoyment of the story rose from the different personalities of the characters (especially the exasperating toad) and the thematic expositions that Grahame had worked on. Credit must go to him for the successful creation of this complex enterprise of writing a story for children to enjoy and adults to ponder.