Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland and Campbell’s Hero Monomyth
Joseph Campbell wrote about the hero monomyth after he discovered that most hero stories have a common pattern and storyline. Joseph Campbell’s hero monomyth is a theory he proposed that heroes follow in a narrative, especially in an adventure novel. His theory states that almost all heroes follow the steps of this patterned journey. Alice in Wonderland in its many media forms has been a very popular children’s story ever since it was published in 1865. The story written by Lewis Carroll for a girl he taught named Alice follows many of the steps in the hero monomyth. The story has been rewritten and produced in to multiple movies, plays, tv shows, musicals and even comic books. Carrolls version of Alice is the first and oldest but still follows Campbell’s theory of the hero monomyth.
Carrolls version starts with Alice sitting in a tree listening to a boring lesson from her older sister. She plays with her cat and imagines how happy she would be in a world of her own, of which she called Wonderland. She then sees a rabbit wearing a waistcoat and holding a pocket watch saying over and over “I’m late, I’m late.” This call to adventure is where Alice’s hero’s journey begins. According to the story written by Lewis Carroll, “she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole. In another moment down went Alice after it..”(3) Alice falls into a room with many doors along the walls. She catches a glimpse of the rabbit going through a tiny door and tries to follow him but the door is too small for her to go through. In order to go through the door or “cross the threshold,” as campbell would call it, she must undergo a series of ordeals (80). She drinks from a bottle labelled “drink me” which causes her to shrink to the size of the locked door. In order to get to the key for the door which she left on the table when she shrunk, Alice takes a bite from a cake which states “eat me”. After doing so she grows way past the height of the table nearly surpassing the size of the room. She shrinks yet again while crying and crosses the threshold into wonderland. Alice meets many people while following the rabbit. The people she met along the way are part of her tests as she has to figure out how to get away and continue her adventure but many tend to also be helpers. First she meets the Dodo bird who is conducting a race she joins in to dry off with the other animals even though she finds the race with no winner to be pointless. Continuing on her adventure Alice finds a friend in the Hatter along with a hare and a mouse. They do not really help her as much as they do in the movie depictions, but they host Alice’s Unbirthday tea party and wish her luck on her travels. Alice then meets a caterpillar who smokes from a hookah and asks, “who are you”. The caterpillar helps Alice by telling her to break off bits of the mushroom she is sitting on in order to return to her original size and she takes some with her. The Cheshire Cat is more of a helper according to Campbell’s definition or a supernatural helper in the world of adventure who fulfills this function”(ORIAS). The Cheshire Cat shows Alice all of the many ways to go and shows up to help her when she is in need but eventually leads her to the queen. Alice soon finds out that the queen is a tyrant. She is invited to a croquet match that is rigged for only the queen to win but Alice wins by mistake. This game of croquet is where the climax of the story begins. The queen is Alice’s enemy in the story, she beheads everyone and anyone. The queen beheads three gardeners who are painting the white roses red and wants Alice punished for embarrassing her. The Cheshire cat enrages the queen with his tricks, embarrassing her once again and she blames Alice for it. Alice faces an unfair and rigged trial and is convicted in her final battle. According to the story “she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid.”(Carroll 58) She consumes her mushrooms and grows as she interrupts the king and tells the queen how much of a tyrant she really is. Alice yells at the pack of card sending them into the air, waking her up from her dream and into her sisters lap.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland almost conforms to Campbell’s hero monomyth but it lacks many steps and significant qualities of what makes a hero. Unlike Campbell’s Hero’s journey Alice doesn’t bring any reward out of the struggle nor an elixir and she does not have much of a climactic final battle although she disputes with the queen. According to Campbell’s hero monomyth “The object, knowledge, or blessing that the hero acquired during the adventure is put to use in the everyday world. Often it has a restorative or healing function.”(ORIAS) Unlike a more typical hero Alice does not transform, she believes everything she believed before the journey into Wonderland. She doesn’t share her wonder-ful story or her knowledge about nonsense but she does follow many steps in the pattern of a hero making her arguably a hero.
References to The Law in Lewis Carroll’s Novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’
This paper is aimed to introduce the proposition that throughout Lewis Carroll’s novel ‘Alice In Wonderland’ there are frequently occurring references to the law. In particular the narratives concentrations on concepts such as Thomas Aquinas theory of Natural Law and The Rule of Law. This piece of literature gives perspective to better comprehend the connotation of named theories. It is a ludicrous world roughly tethered to the common sense of the way things should be, nothing really makes sense in Wonderland, including the law. The antagonist of the story is the Queen of Hearts who provides the perfect example as to why the Rule of Law is such an important philosophy. Alice’s adventures in wonderland have no logic, morals nor do they have any sense of order creating excessive puzzlement for Alice, as a result of no natural law. By recognising what is wrong with the law in Alice’s adventures it helps one gain understanding of the concept of the Law of Nature and the importance of the Rule of Law.
The Rule of Law binds and protects members of society, being defined as ‘nobody is above the law, and everyone is subject to it’ . The constitution “commits government to democracy and to accountability, responsiveness and openness… No-one is above the law and everyone is subject to the Constitution and the law ”. It underpins the governing of Australian society and is upheld to guarantee laws are clear, predictable and accessible. This principle certifies that written laws which were adopted through an established procedure, restrict government power and that it may only be exercised in accordance. Its intentions being to act as a safeguard against arbitrary actions of the governments authorities. It brings an assured level of harmony, prosperity and safety to those under the rule of government. In an attempt to ensure this is effective a separation of powers was put into place, so the executive, legislature and judiciary are not the same people, nor do they perform the same functions.
The theory of Natural Law was first introduced by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century . Essentially the concept is that laws should be coherent with nature and reason as this is believed to make ‘good laws’. It creates a close alignment between morality and the law. The very base of this theory comes from laws such as Newtons law of gravity, it’s simply natures law that what goes up must come down. If the rules that govern a whole nation of people behold no morality, alignment with nature or reflect the current views of society governing will be nonsensical and unsuccessful.
The rule of law seems to be non-existent in Wonderland. This is first shown in Chapter III of Alice in Wonderland. The white mouse begins to tell Alice of a sad and long tale of his history. It tells the story of Mouse’s meeting with fury, who presents the idea that they both go to trial for something to do. Mouse has objections to this as a trial would be a waste of time without a judge or jury however fury states “I’ll be the judge, I’ll be the jury… I’ll try the whole case and condemn you to death. ” In Chapters VIII and IX Alice participates in the Queens game of croquet. It is very clearly a fictional game of croquet with hedgehogs serving as balls, live flamingos as mallets and very cruelly the soldiers are made to “double themselves up and stand on their hands and feet” posing as arches. As the queen is easily angered, anyone who offends or annoys her is condemned by her to be beheaded. This demand was made by the queen at least once every minute, making the game absolute chaos. As made evident in this particular chapter the Queen of Hearts makes the law, enforces the law and decides the consequences for those who break it, acting as the legislature, executive and judiciary. This gives the Queen an endless amount of power very clearly putting her above the law, allowing to run things by her sanity and sense of justice which is always an execution regardless if the accused is deserving or not.
As with everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite right about the law. The fun in Alice’s Adventures is the authors construction of a nonsensical realm that is very loosely based on reality. Alice rebels against the inhabitants of wonderland when she grows larger and is stuck in the white rabbit’s house. Her capability to take a potion and turn into a giant already gives the perfect example as to how the rules of wonderland are not in alignment with nature. Given her new found size Alice decides to implicitly recreate the authority in Wonderland kicking a lizard up a chimney simply because she is the larger therefore stronger individual. She is merely reconstructing authority she has been subjected to in all her time in Wonderland, that the more powerful individual can implement illogical authority over a less powerful one, regardless of whether such treatment is deserved. There is no morality in the law therefore Alice knows no better. The detail that there is no alignment with the basic rules of nature in wonderland provides the fact that there is no morality, and everything doesn’t make sense. This assist to better comprehend the philosophy Thomas Aquinas created and its significance in today’s reality.
To encapsulate, it is made apparent that the Rule of Law grasps a significant importance and plays a sizeable function in guarding the rights of people as well as delivering those under the governing body with a sense of security. It also specifies a better understanding to Thomas Aquinas philosophy of Natural Law and the prominence of laws incorporating morality.
Satirical and Underlaying Elements of Victorian Society in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
According to Auerbach, Alice is a challenge to Victorian norm, but at the same time she is also a representation of the dichotomy that used to mark the idea of women: she calls her an “amalgamation of the fallen woman with the unfallen child” .
Moving to sexuality, and for instance male sexual behaviour, Donald Rackin carries out an analysis of a possible satirical self-portrait of the author within the book. What Rackin indicates as a self-portrait of the author, could be considered more in general a good description of the common respectable middle-class Victorian that has to repress his sexuality. A representative source in order to understand this behaviour may be William Acton’s work, The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs in Youth, in Adult Age, and in Advanced Life. Considered in Their Physiological, Social, and Psychological Relations , a book that explains that sex is therefore a problem, that “sexual maladies have physiological (rather than psychological) causes and that control and abstinence are the most appropriate remedies for them” . Acton states that sexual desire is dangerous for the society, against nature and religion and, moreover, that “intellectual qualities are usually in an inverse ratio to the sexual appetites” .
The ideal of the separation between head, as center of thinking, and body, as center of desire, is embedded in the narration, according to Rackin, through the character of the Cheshire Cat. The Cat can separate his head from the rest of his body, signifying a complete control over it. The way he talks, his ability of disappearing, everything suggests his superiority. Nevertheless, there are very few scholars that would sustain that the Cheshire Cat is a self-portrait of the author. In fact, characters identified with Lewis Carroll are struggling for reach a similar kind od of separation as the one shown by the Cat, but they are not at all as good as him. For instance, the White Rabbit and the White King , are considered burlesques of male celibacy and sexual neutrality. In their attempt to elevate their thinking, they result distracted, absent and ineffectual. White is supposed to stand for purity, but in this case means the self-deprivation of life force. They are opposed and as ineffective as the Queen of Hearts, an embodiment of ungovernable passions. They actually stand on opposite sides of the emotional balance. Rackin argues that even Carroll himself would have represented an extreme example of Victorian man, with his shyness, verbal evasiveness and sexual reticence. The man and the characters are weak and mutilated if compared to Alice: her curiosity, physical exertions, hunger for food and adventure, juxtaposed to the comical denial of body and bodily sexuality, are the core of the matrix of sexual-asexual dynamic in AAW.
Victorian morality was adopted also within ruling class and aristocracy, but there were some doubts about its application. In particular, lower classes seemed at the mercy of a far from impartial, and often corrupted, judicial system. A satirical portrait of this reality in AAW was likely in the intentions of Lewis Carrol. He was a man devoted to equality, author of several political pamphlets and not afraid of power. It seems that he even tricked Queen Victoria: after receiving her request to be the object of Lewis Carroll’s dedication in his next book, she appeared in the dedication of Some Considerations on Determinants , and not of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There , as she would have expected.
Alison Lurie writes about subversive children literature in Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature and she uses AAW as an example. She argues that the pomposity and as rigorous as arbitrary etiquette of the Queen of Hearts’ court is nothing but a representation of Queen Victoria’s court. She tells that booth queens liked to surround themselves with reverent servants and rosebushes. As a matter of fact, rosebushes in time become one of the most iconic symbols of the Queen of Hearts:
Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, “Why, the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a red rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake, and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes, to—”
The Cards are so afraid of the Queen and her temper to try to paint the white roses one by one. The imagine of the overbearing ruler is reinforced by the presence of a King, parody of the Prince Consort Albert, completely insignificant compared to his queen.
A further important critique to the ruling class regards parties, and it can be found in the episode of the Caucus-Race which is, as suggested by Laura White, a way to mock English political system . The caucus’s definition provided by the Oxford Living Dictionaries is: “A conference of members of a legislative body who belong to a particular party or faction” . The satirical connotation of the Caucus-Race is evident in its description:
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (“the exact shape doesn’t matter,” it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no “One, two, three, and away,” but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half- an-hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out, “The race is over!” and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, “But who has won?” (…) At last the Dodo said, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”
The arbitrariness and inutility of this kind of race make it absolutely ridiculous and carries Carroll’s idea of the internal-dynamics of parties. Since there is no way to determinate a winner everybody wins, but at the same time, there are no losers, so the victory is quite overestimated. In the end, Alice finds herself obliged to look in her pockets to give to each participant a prize, such ending suggests the great impact of an absurd activity treated like a serious business.
In the last two chapters of the book Alice attends a trial. The Knave has been accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts, and now is going to be judged. As it happened for the Caucus-Race, also the trial takes place without order or meaning, but following a pointless formality. Donald Rackin states that, many adult readers, who had been in court before, would have recognized similarities between the Knave of Hearts’ trial and the real ones, insanely unjust and prejudiced . Hence, Carroll’s satire of the judicial system follows the development of the trial, putting into question the practice of law not only in Wonderland, but even in England. The judge is impersonated by the King, who looks hilarious because he wears the wig over the crown, representing his ambiguous role of judge and monarch at the same time. The jurors are busy writing things before the beginning of the trial, when asked the Gryphon says that they were “putting down their name (…) for fear they should forget them before the end of the trial.” . The first witness is the Hatter, very nervous because he did not manage to finish his tea before entering the courtroom. On one hand, the King keeps asking him questions that have nothing to do with the trial, threatening him of death while, on the other hand, the Queen who has recognised him as the man that murdered time at the last concert, would like to execute him no matter what. There is too much pressure for the Hatter to answer and, in fact, they let him go without adding any kind of evidence. During the trial Alice starts growing and catches the King’s attention, the discussion that follow results in an example of contradiction and factionalism:
“Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
Everybody looked at Alice.
“I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.
“You are,” said the King.
“Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen. “Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,” said Alice;
“besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.”
“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.
“Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice.
The King’s attempt to exclude Alice from the trial is evident, but the girl’s objection is legit: the oldest rule should be the first. Such contradiction suggests that the King is inventing rules only to achieve his aim. In general, the King seems to understand only what he wants, in fact, when the White Rabbit brings a letter as proof of the Knives guilt, the King turns the lack of evidence about the fact that the Knives could be the actual writer into an aggravation:
Please your Majesty,” said the Knave, “I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.”
“If you didn’t sign it,” said the King, “that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.”
This reasoning does not make sense, but it provokes a general clapping of hands. What makes Alice really angry and, according to Donald Rackin, makes Wonderland explode , is the final declaration of the Queen “Sentence first – verdict afterwards” . Rackin also states that, during the trial, Alice loses faith in Wonderland and renounces to find some kind of logic in it, this would be the reason why she wakes up at the end.
During the nineteenth century Victorian England was living the imperial experience, the British Empire was expanding while new lands and cultures were discovered. What follows is an encounter of cultures and, quite often, an aggression against the foreignness perpetrated by the British Empire. Daniel Bivona, in “Alice the Child-Imperialist and Games of Wonderland” , argues that Alice’s approach to Wonderland is deeply marked by an imperialistic attitude.
Alice’s imperialistic attitude comes from her incapacity of understanding the other culture, assuming that, only because she can not understand it, it must be devoid of logical rules. The girl does not contemplate the idea of fitting in somebody else’s shoes. For example, when she meets the Caterpillar, she assumes that he must understand her being confused by the physical changes she has been through:
The Caterpillar was the first to speak. “What size do you want to be?” it asked. “Oh, I’m not particular as to size,” Alice hastily replied; “only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.” “I don’t know,” said the Caterpillar. Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper. “Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar. “Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.” “It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
As a matter of fact, for a caterpillar, being three-inch-tall and evolution, since he will become a butterfly, are quite common. Metamorphosis is part of Wonderland and as such it must be accepted. Yet, Alice’s ethnocentrism, is reinforced by the Caterpillar refusal of comprehend her foreignness as well.
Bivona states that, the basis of the social and cultural structure of Wonderland, have to be found in the games that Alice observes during her stay . Initially, the girl simply finds absurd the Caucus-Race and the Mad Tea-Party, claiming their nonsense, but in the case of the trial she interferes with Wonderland’s law becoming physically and verbally aggressive. Most of her indignation against the rules that she considers brutal, is a complete misunderstanding of Wonderland’s linguistic. Bivona suggests that a performative order such as “Off with his head!” pronounced by the Queen, has no fulfillment in Wonderland, while “killing time” could cause a serious and furious reaction by Time himself. Alice assumes that the first order must carry performative force only because in her Country it would operate that way. In this concern, Bivona uses the term “semiotic imperialism”:
Alice’s “imperialism”, such as it is, is a semiotic imperialism: she is uncapable of construing, on a model radically different from here own, the “system” or “systems” that give meaning to the behavior of the creatures.
In order to be fair, she should not judge Wonderland and compare it to Victorian England on the basis of a blind ignorance of the rules that dominate the foreign Country .
Moreover, Alice collects a series of intrusions: she enters uninvited the Duchess’s house, the Mad Tea-Party and the Golden Garden. She is a transgressor, even if no-one openly remembers this concept to her. Nevertheless, there is one case, in “Advice from a caterpillar”, that her neck grows to the point she reaches the top of a tree and meet a pigeon. The Pigeon mistakes her for a serpent, complaining about their bad habits (obviously from the Pigeon’s perspective) of stealing birds’ eggs. Alice knows to be a girl, or at least not to be a serpent, but the Pigeon’s words are quite meaningful:
“I ’ve seen a good many little girls in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! No, no! You’re a serpent; and there’s no use denying it. I suppose you’ll be telling me next that you never tasted an egg!” “I have tasted eggs, certainly,” said Alice, who was a very truthful child; “but little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know.” “I don’t believe it,” said the Pigeon; “but if they do, why then they’re a kind of serpent, that’s all I can say.”
These few words do not only satirise the Victorian Imperialism, but also the self-induced state of ignorance lived by Countries which exploit colonies taking all for granted. Alice literally walks in a land full of talking animals that in the real world would represent nothing but a meal and “exist for the purpose of being eaten by human beings like herself” . The protagonist perceives Wonderland as something to consume, her ethnocentric vision of reality prevents her from considering Wonderland’s inhabitants, society and culture on the same level of hers.
My Favourite book: “Alice in Wonderland”
My favorite book is “Alice in Wonderland” and most of all I was captivated by the magical atmosphere of this story and its strange heroes. This book should be read slowly, thoughtfully, no matter what, without distracting, not missing a single detail, in order to fully understand the hidden meaning. By reading this story, we will get acquainted with a huge number of bright heroes, each of whom in its own way is unforgettable and original. And it was interesting to read all these funny dialogues. I also want to note the illustrations for the book – they are wonderful. “Alice in Wonderland” is a masterpiece of world literature, one of the best books written in the genre of the absurd, and in this story not only children but also many adults are in love. Thanks to this story, the reader moves to this strange, but so charming world, where many things become more miraculous and extraordinary, and therefore many events do not lend themselves to logic. After all, as Zakhoder wrote in his preface to the book “if something starts to explain for a long time, it means that you did not understand anything in the end.” But, I must admit, to keep up with the meaning of the book, it was rather difficult to comprehend the moral. But I liked the finale; this is the only thing that is logical in the book.
It seems to me that every girl and boy should read the fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland” who want to live and enjoy life, be happy and be able to communicate correctly! Alice is a miracle child, who is interested in everything. It is possible and necessary to take an example from it.
Alice does not change the situation, she knows how to adapt to it and to have people with her. “… Alice, not in the least surprised, found that she addresses them all as if she knew them all her life.” She knows when to keep silent, and when to express her opinion. And she, like me, does not like abstruse words and is not afraid to ask about what she is not in the subject.
Alice lives the sensual side of her soul, but at the same time knows how to reason. She knows how to set goals. “That, first, you need to do,” said Alice, making her way through the trees, “you have to grow up the way I was, and secondly, I need to find the way to that beautiful garden.” In my opinion, this is the best plan.” When she knows how to achieve what she wants, everything is done for this.
She reminds me myself in a lot of situations and it makes the story even more interesting to me. When she is not happy with her presence, Alice does not stay and leaves. She is not touchy and so she lives easily and simply. Alice does not like it when she starts to control and indicate what to do. She is very sensitive to any control over her life and is so wise to be silent when criticized and told how to do it. She accepts people as they are and she does what she wants. “It’s strange, I’m at the rabbit on the premises,” she thought on the run. “So you look, and Dina will start pummeling me!” (Dina is the cat of Alice). It has humor, which decorates our life with additional colors. “Do you like flying cats?” – such questions are asked Alice before bed.
Wonderland can become our world, where it’s easy, interesting and fun – if we are will Alice!
“After so many extraordinary things happen to you, you will inevitably begin to think that there are not so many really impossible things in the world.”
My Impressions From Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland Opinion Paper
Alice in Wonderland is a classic tale of a daydreaming little girl who goes on an adventure lost in the chaos of her own thoughts and fantasies. Children everywhere have marveled over the story for a century and a half since it’s publishing in 1865. Upon my own reading of the book, I considered the whimsical nature of the book and wondered whether all of the insanity was truly just insanity. Were there meant to be undertones of real world problems in all of that nonsense? Was the author suffering from delusions due to illness or using hallucinogens? Are characters in the book meant to be references to certain drugs? These are all common rumors that are often mentioned whenever Alice in Wonderland comes out in conversation. As it turns out, rumors are just rumors. Upon personal research, I discovered that a lot of these myths came about during the 1960’s and in fact Lewis Carroll, or by his true name Charles Dodgson, first recited the tale to his daughter before being prompted by her to write the story down. No drugs, no delusions, no political undertones, just whimsy and nonsense.
Reflecting on the story after learning this, it was much easier to look at it with the same childlike wonder that so many kids have over the years. It’s easy to get caught up in the confusion of Wonderland. It’s fascinating but in reality is not a very happy story, nor does it have the happiest ending. Sure, Alice escapes the trial by waking up but is the real world all that happy? She misses her cat but fails to mention her family beyond the boringness of the book her sister was reading to her. If the book lacks a sensible storyline, contains many bouts of tears for the main character, and fails to deliver a truly happy ending, why is it so popular? Although the majority of the book seems like pure absurdity, it’s easy to become attached to Alice. The story follows her through a lot of uncertainty and she often experiences strong emotions due to her confusion. No one appears to want to help her and any time she questions the absurdity of a situation, the other characters become angry or simply ignore her. It’s this attachment to Alice and the desire for her to find her way out safely that keeps us reading and wanting to see how she’ll work her way out of whatever nonsensical predicament comes up next. Walt Disney’s creation of the movie version of the book only amplified the story’s popularity and made it a classic children’s movie as well. Alice in Wonderland is wonderful tale full of whimsy and the curiosity of a child that will continue to be a classic children’s story in the coming generations.
Struggle Of Protagonist in Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, a Little Princess and Tom Sawyer
In any fictional narrative, a reader can expect to learn about a protagonist who has to overcome fantastical or dramatic obstacles in order to achieve a goal. An antagonist might stand between the protagonist and the goal, and the protagonist will have to display perseverance in the face of obstacles incurred along the way. What aspects of children’s literature separates this subgenre from this prototypical formula? What distinguishes children’s literature? The answer is fairly obvious: the target audience, and non-coincidentally the main characters, are children. Thus, the obstacles and the general plight of the main character are exasperated by the fact that they are children. Saving the day, escaping the clutches of evil, defeating a bad guy, and the other responsibilities of the protagonist comes much easier to a fully developed and fully functioning adult. Being the hero is much harder when the hero is “little”. The word “little” can be found early and often in each piece of selected children’s literature. The use of “little” carries a connotation in these pieces that indicates not just a smallness in stature, but also in status and capability. Littleness carries with it an implied lack of autonomy and ability.
There are 175 appearances of the word “little” in Tom Sawyer, 343 appearances in “The Little Princess”, and 143 appearances in “Tom Sawyer”. “Little” is far and away the most frequently occurring adjective in each of these narratives. This paper will argue that this commonality is through no coincidence, but rather illuminates a trend in how children’s literature is written and how the literature is meant to be consumed. Despite each having very different styles, plotlines, characters, and the like, they share this most common descriptor. For the purpose of this paper, this broad concept of commonality will be referred to as “Littleness”. Littleness, as I define it is the general state of being of protagonists in children’s literature. Children are inherently dependent; they need parents or authority figures. Whether it be transportation, food, or simply permission, children exist in a state of dependence. This dependence means that children have a lack of power and autonomy. This accompanying lack of power and autonomy is what I characterize as ‘littleness’. The frequency at which the word little appears in the selected novels defends this idea of “littleness” as pervasive theme in children’s literature. The protagonists must overcome their littleness. Tom, Alice, and Sara each must improvise and adapt, and display confidence, bravery, and wisdom beyond their years to overcome their littleness and the problems that confront them. Through analysis of word frequency in each book, one can visualize the confrontation between the protagonist and their respective littleness. Each narrative has an opposing word which is also frequently occurring, but occurring in moments of relative strength and bravery. The following paragraphs will defend why each selected word is representative of the characters perseverance over their littleness.
The narrator in Tom Sawyer often talks about the state of affairs between “little boys” and “little girls”. Twain could have sufficed to simply say boys and girls, or another adjective to characterize their size. However, he repeatedly uses “little”. This adjective dispowers the young characters in the novel. “Little boys” are much less capable than boys or men. Thus Tom being grouped into the category of a little boy is an obstacle he must overcome. After witnessing a murder and a man be falsely accused, Tom is forced to take on responsibility. In showing fortitude, bravery, and composure, Tom distinguishes himself from the little boy crowd. In writing “Tom Sawyer”, Twain is particularly concerned with knowledge as a representation of capability. The word “know” is among the most frequently occurring verbs within the novel. Tom is an extremely bright child and often utilizes his wit to overcome obstacles. When faced with an overwhelming task, Tom thinks outside of the box and looks for a means of accomplishing the goal. “Know” is the word that is in direct opposition of “little”. A comparative graph of the relative frequencies of “little” and “know” shows that as one word’s relative frequency rises, the other falls. The frequencies of the two respective words are inversely correlated. Twain does not use little as a descriptor in passages that “know” appears because these are passages in which Tom displays fortitude and bravery.
Contextual analysis only further defends this argument. For example, Tom’s ability to improvise is showcased when he gets out of painting his white picket fence, one of the more iconic scenes in American literature. While painting an entire fence with a small brush would be a tedious and pressing task for anyone. Being a child of small stature, painting this fence would be extremely daunting task. This task is microcosmic representation of Tom’s battle with his littleness. Tom’s intellect perseveres, as he cleverly convinces a friend that painting the fence was extremely enjoyable. “Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.” (Twain 17). Tom’s use of “know” is defiant and convincing. In moments such as these, Tom becomes more than just a little boy.
“The Little Princess” ironically features a young girl, who for much of the book is not considered a princess at all. After her father loses his fortune, Sara struggles with poverty and loneliness. She is now without power, and epitomizes what it means to be little. She is frequently described as little, so much so that Little is in the title of the narrative. The title is “The Little Princess”. However, through the course of the book the words “little” and “princess” almost never accompany one another. When the word “princess” appears, the word little is never an accompanying descriptor. Upon looking at the relative frequency chart of the word little and the word princess, the two graphs never overlap. Princess is a word that refers to power and autonomy for Sara. When the word princess is being used, Sara is in a position of power and making decisions for herself. “If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.” (Burnett 1963). Sara grapples with what it means to be a princess throughout the novel. The above passage is a rather explicit example in which Sara begins to overcome her littleness and gain a type of profound contentment. Sara realizes that she can be a princess even if others see her as poor. This is an example in which Sara finds wisdom, and feels that she is a princess rather than feeling little.
Alice’s plight can be best tracked through the occurrence of dialogue. Alice quite literally . When she grows, she believes herself to be a grownup, despite having gained no years in experience or maturity. She confuses her size as a mark of maturity. This is perhaps the most explicit reference to littleness and what it means to be little versus being grown. In instances where there are dialogue, Alice displays autonomy, confidence, and maturity. When there is dialogue she controls her own destiny, compared to her having events acted upon her. In moments where there is dialogue, there are choices from Alice. Littleness as I have defined it, is the absence of choice and independence. Where we see spikes in the relative frequency of “said”, Alice is more likely to be making decisions and overcoming her littleness.
“Little” makes a significant amount of appearances in the Alice in Wonderland series. There are far more mentions of the word towards the beginning of the book, with usage trending downward as the chapters go on. As Alice moves through her adventures she gains more and more confidence. Size and growth occur quite often throughout the books. Alice is often shrinking, and growing, and all the while confusing her size with what it means to grow as a person and become a grown up. “There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought! And when I grow up, I’ll write one—but I’m grown up now,” she added in a sorrowful tone, “at least there’s no room to grow up any more here.” But then,” thought Alice, “ shall I never get any older than I am now? That’ll be a comfort, one way—never to be an old woman— but then—always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn’t like that!” (Carrol 1949). By Alice existing in this fantastical world, author Lewis Carrol can manipulate this idea of littleness and comment on it. Alice is confused by what it means to be little. When she starts growing and expanding, she perceives this as becoming an adult. Alice believes that she will never grow old because she has already grown in size. Alice is troubled by this, because she wants to grow old to learn more. This in itself shows that Alice has a desire to better herself and grow as a person, despite her misunderstanding of aging and development. Alice’s commentary also serves as evidence that growing and escaping from littleness results in experience, autonomy, and power. Alice wants to grow old for the purpose of advancing intellectually and escaping her littleness. The further along she gets through her adventures, the less use you see the little. Given that “little” is a representation of powerlessness and naivety, it makes sense that as Alice gains confidence the word becomes less and less frequent. A best fit line of the frequency of “little” goes down in the books. However, a best fit line tracing the graph for the word “said” would reveal an increase as the book goes on. “Said” can be understood as Alice’s opposition towards her littleness. Said implies that there is dialogue. “Said” is the most occurring word in the novel, however a majority of its occurrences are in the second half of the book. When Alice can speak, she has some control over her actions. These are typically moments in which Alice has some freedom and choices, and can display bravery. Alice power in dialogue and choice is epitomized in the final scene of “The Looking Glass”. Alice the protagonist is little, while the Queen, the antagonist, is big. Alice is fed up with the queen, and finally gets extremely vocal about her discontentment. “The Red Queen made no resistance whatever; only her face grew very small, and her eyes got large and green: and still, as Alice went on shaking her, she kept on growing shorter—and fatter—and softer—and rounder—and—” (Carroll 1946). In this final scene of the book, the Alice becomes vocal, powerful, and autonomous. As she becomes vocal, the Queen shrinks. Suddenly the antogonist that was once big and therefore powerful, became little. Notice in the above passage, on one of the final pages of the saga, the Queen is described as little. This is the first description of the Queen as such. Alice has persevered in this moment, and overcome her littleness. Carroll has created a scenario to represent this literally by having the powerful antagonist and the powerless protagonist switch roles.
In each of the aforementioned narratives, the protagonists struggles with not only the obstacles in front of them, but because they lack power. Tom is little, and therefore standing up to Injun Joe is an extremely daunting task. The task would be difficult for any man, but is much harder for that of a child. Sara is powerless as a child, and cannot claim her fortune. She cannot take care of herself and thus has to answer to an authority figure in Ms. Minchin. Alice struggles with her size and status for the entirety of her adventures. Thus, the unifying theme, is that littleness as it has been described above, is difficult but not impossible to overcome. These authors show children who can succeed in their quests despites being little, and therefore each narrative can inspire hope for the future for chidren, along with the other morals and metaphors that come along with each respective book.
Aspects Of Fairy Tale in Alice in Wonderland
Imagine That: A Fairy Tale in Wonderland
In a world of sense over nonsense and rational over irrational, it can become difficult for children’s creativity to flourish. The Victorian era, in particular, smothered eccentricity and absurdity, leaving little room for amusement and fun. Even literature was often limited in its playfulness. In opposition to the Victorian norm, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland entertains children with its talking animals and repetitious events in a world where a child becomes an adventurer. These fairy tale elements create an alternate reality that challenges children’s ideas about logic and encourages their use of imagination.
Several characters within the story take the form of talking animals, a frequent component of fairy tales that Carroll seems to use in order to reach out to an audience of children. Some of the most well-known characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland make their appearance in the famous Tea Party scene, where Alice meets the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The Mad Hatter and March Hare sit at a long table with every spot set up for tea but only themselves and a Dormouse in attendance. After telling Alice that they have no room at the table, the narrator describes, “‘There’s plenty of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table” (56). Normally, the discovery of a talking animal would elicit a shocked reaction from someone, but Alice accepts that the March Hare and Dormouse can speak without a second thought because every other animal she has encountered in Wonderland speaks as well. She knows that in her world animals cannot speak, but since the characters belong to Wonderland, she finds no reason to question their realness.
The element of talking animals comes up very often in fairy tales, such as the bear found in the Grimm version of the story “Snow-White and Rose-Red.” In that story, the irrationality of a bear that speaks can be explained by magic and enchantment, also common themes in fairy tales. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the abnormalities that occur have no real explanation, they simply exist. While trying to adjust to the craziness of Wonderland, Alice tries to apply the logic she learned in her own world. In most cases, it could not help her make her sense of things, like when she encounters the Mad Hatter’s watch:
‘What a funny watch!” she remarked. It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell you what o’clock it is!” ‘Why should it?” muttered the Hatter. ‘Does your watch tell you what year it is?’ ‘Of course not,’ Alice replied very readily: ‘but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.’ ‘Which is just the case with mine,’ said the Hatter. (58)
The strangeness of the Mad Hatter’s watch confuses Alice, yet she accepts that the March Hare can speak because all animals in that world can speak. In a world full of absurdities, talking animals become a norm. Through the use of this fairy tale element, Carroll amuses his audience of children and establishes Alice as open minded to the rationale of Wonderland. He plays with the ideas of normalcy and logic, challenging readers to understand his crazy world. By doing so, he emphasizes children’s ability to create their own reality, therefore inspiring their use of imagination.
Carroll incorporates more than one aspect of fairy tales in order to draw his audience into his whimsical world. A sense of repetition also characterizes fairy tales, such as the repetitive formalities of the Tea Party that Alice stumbles upon. The March Hare and Mad Hatter rotate along the long table they sit at, moving one seat down every time they want a different cup of tea. The cycle seems never ending; Alice takes note of the repetition when the Mad Hatter explains why his watch always reads six o’clock; she figures how that explains the tea setup, “‘Then you keep moving round, I suppose?’ said Alice. ‘Exactly so,’ said the Hatter: ‘as things get used up.’ ‘But what happens when you come to the beginning again?’ Alice ventured to ask” (60). To this, the March Hare changes the subject. Even though Alice feels confused about the tea party, she goes along with the formality of constantly changing seats because the Mad Hatter and March Hare keep repeating the routine. The peculiarity of their logic seems so unreasonable to Alice that it becomes reasonable; it makes sense because nothing in Wonderland makes sense.
The repetitious events in the story, such as those that unfold in the March Hare and Mad Hatter’s tea party, allow children to make a connection between those events and the types of situations found in fairy tales. With that connection, it becomes easier to believe in the bizarreness of Carroll’s world because fairy tales do not have to be believable. Children tend to like repetition because it creates predictability, which in some cases makes it simpler for them to understand or anticipate what happens in a story. This accounts for the element of repetition that a lot fairy tales incorporate. The Grimm version of “Rumpelstiltskin,” for example, begins with the king demanding that the Miller’s daughter spin straw into gold three times. After every time, it becomes easier to guess what might happen next. By using the element of repetition in the Tea Party chapter, Carroll goes against real world logic by integrating the logic of fairy tales. His result entertains children while supporting the practice of imagination.
Nothing speaks more to the creativity of a child than an exciting adventure, such as the one Alice goes on when she encounters Wonderland. The adventure becomes even better when the child takes the lead, as is often the case in fairy tales. Throughout the book, Alice meets eccentric characters, travels to strange places, and takes several risks. In the chapter “A Mad Tea-Party,” Alice sits down at a stranger’s table, “‘It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare. ‘I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alice: ‘it’s laid for a great many more than three’” (56). Real world logic cautions children against trusting people they do not know, but since the strangers live in Wonderland and her rationale seems useless there, Alice sits down anyway. The risk she takes characterizes her as brave, which corresponds to the image of a protagonist on an adventure. She may also be considered foolish for her risk taking, but as she manages to avoid harm anywhere she goes, it seems unlikely that she would ever find herself in danger. This protection of the innocent child protagonist also seems prevalent as an element in fairy tales. For instance, in the Grimm version of “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs,” no matter what she did or who she encountered, no harm could come to the little princess. In connection with the protected child, fairy tale children tend to lack parents in their adventures. Alice mentions her parents once in the book, but proceeds on her quest alone. Her immunity and independence combine to give her a power in Wonderland that she may not otherwise have in her world. This power allows her to go on her adventures and experience strange and confusing things that amuse children while accentuating the potential of imagination.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland defies logic in practically any century, especially during the time of its creation. In the book, Lewis Carroll includes elements indicative of fairy tales, such as talking animals, repetition of events, and an innocent child protagonist, that help support the nonsense in his story. The conclusion of the book, where Alice’s adventures turn out to be a dream, discredits and validates the nonsense at the same time. Dreams have no need to be realistic, which gives the story all the more reason not to be. In the end, children glean the message of the wonders and capabilities of imagination.
The Elements That Made Alice in Wonderland a Special Story
According to the Atlantic an article created by Niraj Chokshi a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. “Alice was published in 1865 and has been adopted 25 times, according to Wikipedia (sorry, it was the most accessible, reliable database). Roughly 25 adaptations exist of Les Misérables, which was published in 1862 (the number may be higher, but I limited the count to eponymous titles) while there have been at least 27 adaptations of Crime & Punishment (1866)”. There are so many things like adventure and climax that can be explored through the book and filmed.
In the film or novel, there’s really no bystanders because the creators use everyone an object in a way to climax the story to another level. Examples include the Queen of Hearts’ people being questioned and treated to be railed in the climax. Another example includes, all the main characters helping Alice out in not letting the Queen of Hearts find her during her search and a random dog (which can speak) making in impact to risin the story to a startling impact. There’s no bystander during the movie, everyone in the movie have a role to follow and if it is not in the beginning then shortly after will come. During the literature or creative writing about rescuing in the book Alice in the Wonder created by Lewis Carroll is much more than an adventure.
During the book as described by shmoop “Alice visits the Duchess and rescues a baby, Alice is captured by a Red Knight and rescued by a White Knight”. Those examples show Alice being rescued or saved by other people powerful people or herself protecting others from potential doom. After Alice was saved from being captured by the Red Knight and rescued she continued her day and eventually rescued again in the way of her finding a way to head home thanks to her friends. Alongside many perpetrator deeds the queen have done that could be considered art. Examples includes capturing, torturing her people in which could be well describe through the art titled ‘ORIGINAL drawing Red Queen Alice in Wonderland, handmade,’ by Montana Tonny. She is a young artist which have mastered the art of the red queen to illustrate her as a foul monarch who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense and is a queen that is considered trigger happy and wouldn’t think twice killing anyone that stood in her way.
The art behind the concept is attitude and excitement in which she shows during the book. Excitement comes from the reader once the mad queen does something horrible like beheading most of her people for trying to escape. There’s a play which represents the Drama that happens in Alice in the Wonderland that shows characters as a victim. The play represents the casts Waverlee Cooper as Alice, Rachel Belcher – The White Rabbit, Kierra Figgins – Mouse, Ethan McCollum as Duck, Abigail Noah / Rae Guidry as Dodo, Marlee Bird as Lory, Jade Clark as Eaglet and act. Created by Southeast Texas Arts Council in 2011 of the book in much childish and friendly way. The play counter the Disney Movie of Alice then the book thanks to its children friendly attitude and wording. The characters are shown really nice and are represent nice to the audience with a good concluding story.
John Tenniel and his Illustration of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll originally illustrated Wonderland himself, but his artistic abilities were sparse. An old engraver who had worked for Carroll in 1859 had reviewed Carroll’s drawings and had suggested him to employ a professional illustrator. Carroll was a consistent reader of ‘Punch’ magazine and was therefore familiar with Tenniel’s work. In 1865 after a long talk with Carroll, John Tenniel illustrated the first edition of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’
ABOUT THE ARTIST
John Tenniel was an illustrator from Britain and a political cartoonist famous in the later part of the 19th century. His artistic achievements were given recognition in 1893. John Tenniel is remembered as an important cartoonist for the Punch magazine where he worked for over 50 years, and for his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865). Despite all the fame through Punch magazine, most of Tenniel’s fame are rooted from his illustrations for Alice. Tenniel drew ninety-two drawings for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Most often, Carroll gave Tenniel precise instruction on what must be drawn, which was not only about visual preference but also a special way to feature certain references into the story.
In addition, illustrators have a specified style, and are also knowingly and unknowingly influenced by their environment and past. Therefore Tenniel’s drawing style, jokes and other ‘trademarks’ are not essentially precise for the Alice books, but can also be found in his other works.
The Nazarene movement brought about a style that influenced many artists such as Tenniel. This style can be categorized as “shaded outlines” where the lines on the drawings are given extra thickness or are drawn as double lines proposing shading or volume. This style is also extremely precise, with the artist making a hard, defined outline along its figures.
After the 1850s, Tenniel’s style modernized to feature more detail in backgrounds and in figures. In addition to a change in background, Tenniel developed a new interest in human forms and expressions and that was something that carried over into Tenniel’s illustrations of Wonderland. Additional change in style was his shaded lines. These transformed from mechanical horizontal lines to actively hand-drawn hatching that greatly intensified darker areas.
Tenniel’s “grotesqueness is what attracted Lewis Carroll to let him illustrate for the Alice books. According to the dictionary, the grotesque is an abnormality that imparts the disturbing sense that the real world may have ceased to be reliable. Tenniel’s style was grotesque in his dark atmospheric compositions of exaggerated fantasy creatures that were carefully outlined. Often though, the idea was to use animal heads on recognizable human bodies or vice versa. In John’s illustrations, the grotesque is found also in the merging of things and deformities of the human body. Most notably done in grotesque fashion is that of Tenniel’s famous Jabberwocky drawing in Alice.
Scholars such as Morris say that Tenniel’s stylistic change can be attributed to the late 1850s trend towards realism. For the grotesque to operate, “it is our world which has to be transformed and not some fantasy realm.” These subtle points of realism help convince readers that all these apparent grotesque inhabitants of Wonderland are just themselves, are simply real, they are not performing. The Alice illustrations combine fantasy and reality.
Image and text
The placement of Tenniel’s illustrations on the pages is one of the elements to be noted. There was a smart and subtle mix of illustrations with the text. Carroll and Tenniel wished to express this in various ways, one of the many being bracketing. Two relevant sentences would bracket an illustration, which might define the moment better.
Tenniel agreed on designs with Carroll, drawing them on whitened blocks of dense boxwood. The engravers then worked on the block, carving out the blank parts so the image stood in relief. Then the drawings were engraved to their highest standards, by the Dalziel Brothers. In October 1864, the Dalziels recommended printing Alice’s illustrations direct from the woodblocks. This method gave the finest results. Thousands impressions could be made from woodblocks, but they could not survive an industrial-scale printing.
Carroll appears to have ordered many (expensive!) changes to them. Ignoring the Dalziel’s advice, he decided to follow mass production techniques, using metal replicas of the woodblocks called electrotypes. It is lucky he did so; no one predicted how popular Alice would be, and the woodblocks would not have survived the many editions printed. The process of creating the wood-blocks was quite difficult, hence, sometimes, concessions had to be made to the overall design of the illustration. Such as, a character would be moved to a different position
ABOUT THE IMAGE
The untouched illustration by John Tenniel is like a visual paradox, where the caterpillar’s face appears to be formed from the head and legs of a real caterpillar. Although the original illustrations are black-and-white, in Alice’s Adventures Under ground and in The Nursery Alice, the Caterpillar is described as being blue.
The Caterpillar is the first character who makes a real effort to guide Alice on her journey. Since she’s tired of growing larger and smaller due to events beyond her control, the Caterpillar teaches her to eat parts of the mushroom to control her size and thereby to familiarize to her environment when needed. The Caterpillar is rather strict and not very friendly, and corrects Alice’s recitation of a poem, but he also teaches her to cope with difficult situations she encounters in Wonderland. In the end, he crawls away.
Some critics, and especially people in popular culture, see the Caterpillar as an agent of drug culture, since he’s smoking hookah and shows Alice how to eat a magic mushroom. This caused controversies about banning the book completely. But I believe the Caterpillar is actually a laid-back guru who helps Alice figure out how to control the imaginative world that she’s exploring. The Caterpillar also tells Alice that changing in size and shape isn’t always a bad thing- after all, one day the caterpillar will metamorphose into a butterfly, and instead of being frightened it will be the highlight of his life.
According to a few, the Caterpillar’s mushroom also has multiple symbolic meanings. Some readers and critics look at the Caterpillar as a sexual threat, its phallic shape a symbol of sexual virility. The Caterpillar’s mushroom connects to this denotative meaning. Alice must master the properties of the mushroom to gain control over her fluctuating size, which represents the bodily frustrations that accompany puberty. Others view the mushroom as a vibrant hallucinogen that encapsulates Alice’s surreal and distorted insight of Wonderland.
Much against popular belief, Alice Liddell was not the Alice of Tenniel’s pictures. Carroll supposedly sent Tenniel a photograph of a child-friend and suggested her as a model for Alice. However, whether he actually did that is debatable, especially because by the time Carroll was supposed to have acquired the photograph of her, Tenniel and Dalziel had already completed several engravings.
Lewis Carroll wanted to keep Alice fashionable. That is why her dress changes, when you compare the illustrations of her in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there”, and “The Nursery Alice”. For example, the creases in the skirt she wears in “The Nursery Alice” where high in fashion in 1886, when the book was supposed to come out. However, Carroll hated crinoline fashion. Therefore he objected to several pictures drawn by Tenniel, in which Alice was wearing a crinoline skirt after she became a queen. Tenniel redrew the illustrations. When you take a close look at the picture of the Caterpillar, you’ll see that his nose and chin are really two of its legs, which throws light at the grotesque style of Tenniel.
COPYRIGHTS AND TRANSLATIONS
All works published during the lifetime of Lewis Carroll are out of copyright (also known as “in the public domain”) throughout the world. The black and white illustrations that were commissioned by Lewis Carroll for his works are also out of copyright. This applies to John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ,Through the Looking-Glass, and The Nursery “Alice”. The story has been translated into 174 different languages. In 2015, 7,609 published editions have been identified all over the world, and the number keeps increasing. The public domain has unchained remarkable creativity, while still letting content creators make plenty of money.
In 1981, the original wood-blocks by Dalziel were found in a bank vault where they had been deposited by the publisher. They are in the collection of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Their quality is striking. Key details, like Alice’s eyelashes are far more delicate than published versions. They are not usually on public display, but were exhibited in 2003.
The Ransom Centre holds several collections related to Lewis Carroll and Alice’s books. The Warren Weaver collection holds first drafts of Carroll’s poetry, fiction as well as translations of the books into several languages. One of the rare books in this collection is a copy of the original 1865 edition called “India Alice”.
Alice and Authority
The fantasy world of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” mimics reality, a world where as people mature from children to adults, they become more verbally aggressive. In the real world, adults often grow more confident as they grow older and more mature. They become wiser and learn some lessons in life. Adults also gain a mastery of their language and learn to assert themselves through language. This is what happens in Wonderland as Alice matures. As Alice’s confidence in her verbal abilities soars, so does her verbal aggressiveness.
The adults in Wonderland (the king and queen) are extremely hostile and use aggressive language to assert their power and control over the other characters. The king and queen, in particular, use threats of physical violence to display aggression. Their constant cries of “Off with her head!” and “I’ll have you executed,” make the other characters tremble with fear. In fact, the king and queen’s authority relies on this ability to strike fear into the others. The king and queen also use aggressive tones in their voice and aggressive body language to strengthen the power of their speech. In the trial chapter, the king’s words are often delivered “angrily” or “sharply.” The queen is able to strike fear into the Hatter simply by staring hard at him (379).
However, the king and queen are only powerful when the other characters take their threats of violence seriously. The cook in the trial undermines the king’s power because she doesn’t fear him. The cook is called as a witness and the king demands that she give her evidence. The cook replies, “Shan’t,” which causes the king much anxiety and gives him a “melancholy air” (381). The white rabbit also does not seem to fear the king. The rabbit interrupts the king’s speech and corrects his choice of words. This undermines the king’s verbal authority and causes him to second-guess himself. The rabbit corrects the king “in a very respectful tone,” but here also, body language plays a very important role. The rabbit’s delivery, while respectful in tone, includes “frowning and making faces at him as he spoke” (382). The realization that the king’s threats are idle, coupled with the rabbit’s confidence in his own linguistic ability, give him the confidence to stand up to the king.
Alice matures in Wonderland and becomes less of an “insider” by learning the nuances of the language spoken there. This leads her to become more confident in her ability to communicate. She learns to assert herself through language and becomes more verbally aggressive in order to establish her own power. This is what enables Alice to resist the queen. Although Alice is also astute enough to realize that the king and queen’s threats of violence are not real, it is her confidence in her ability to communicate which gives Alice the courage to speak up and oppose the queen. This newfound courage, coupled with Alice’s physical growth, spurs her to defy authority. Yet, has Alice’s confidence truly soared, or is her verbal aggressiveness merely learned behavior? Alice seems to be imitating the example set before her by the other aggressive characters. Alice has adapted to the verbally aggressive ways of Wonderland for the sake of survival.
Despite her large size and her confident language abilities, Alice is still a child at heart. And children, as every parent knows, are apt to defy authority every now and then. When Alice childishly declares to the court that they are “nothing but a pack of cards,” the pack jumps upon her as if to attack her (384). And although Alice is much larger then all of them, she still “gave a little scream, half of fright, half of anger” (384). The other characters still hold authority over Alice, as she is afraid of them. But Alice may have a good reason to be afraid, as this is the first time any of the characters has used physical violence against her, not just verbal aggressiveness. Because of this, I believe that it is Alice who frees herself from Wonderland to escape the threat of physical harm. She returns to the safe world of childhood where rules still exist to help children feel secure and (most) people don’t act aggressively until they grow up.
Carroll, Lewis, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” A Custom Edition of Classics of Children’s
Literature, Fourth Edition. Ed. John W. Griffith and Charles H. Frey. Bloomington: Prentice-Hall, 1996, 333-385.