Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
The Wind in the Willows is a classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.
Mr. Toad, Esq., of Toad Hall, is one of the main characters in the novel and also the title character of the A. A. Milne play Toad of Toad Hall based on the book. Mr. Toad is portrayed as the village squire and a bit of a fop, being the wealthy occupant and owner of Toad Hall. Mr. Toad is very rich and thus able to indulge his impulsive desires, such as punting, house boating and hot air balloons, and his penchant for Harris tweed suits. He is, however, conceited, self-centred and lacking in basic common sense. His reckless interest in motor cars led to an episode in which he stole a motor car and subsequently crashed it. The result was brief spell in prison, from which he was to escape, dressed as a washer woman, to regain his family seat of Toad Hall from the clutches of the weasels.
Nevertheless, Toad is lovable and has his heart in the right place. His characteristics have made him arguably the epitome of the lovable rogue stock character.
Interestingly, although he commits a crime and is arrested, he is never recaptured and sent back to prison. No reason is ever given for this, except in the 1949 Disney movie, which shows him being framed for theft.