Alice in Wonderland
Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
Our topic is on Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AWS), also known as Todd’s Syndrome. Sometimes when you have a migraine, things don’t look right. Colors change, straight lines turn wavy, time seems to change, and things shift. AWS is similar to that. AWS is an uncommon condition that gives you short-term episodes in which you have disorientation and distorted perception.
A British psychiatrist, John Todd, first identified AWS in the 1950s. In the book Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Alice drinks from a bottle that says drink me and turns the size small enough to walk through a small door. Then, later on, she eats something that says eat me and turns large enough to reach the key on the table. John Todd recognized that the things Alice goes through in the book were similar to what you go through during an AWS episode, so he named the condition Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.
AWS has many different things you can experience during an episode. Episodes are different for everyone. Some common symptoms are migraines, size distortion, perceptual distortion, time distortion, sound distortion, loss of coordination. The odds of getting migraines are higher if you have AWS. Everyone who has AWS will have different episodes. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to a half an hour and you can experience all or some of the symptoms. The episodes can happen multiple times a day for multiple days in a row, and then not have one at all for several weeks or months.
Doctors are still trying to figure out what the cause of AWS is, but they still haven’t found a cause. What they do know is that AWS is not a problem with your eyes. Most people think it is a problem with your eyes because of all the hallucinations. Doctors know that abnormal blood flow, caused by unusual electrical activity, flows to the sections of the brain that processes your visual perception. Even though doctors have figured this out, they still don’t know what causes the unusual electrical activity in the brain. If you have AWS, or some of your family members have it, it can increase your chances of getting infection, migraines, and genetics (a rare disease). Some possible causes that doctors have come up with are stress, brain tumor, use of hallucinogenic drugs, epilepsy, and having a stroke.
AWS is extremely undiagnosed but this is because no one really knows what to look for to diagnose it. They often diagnose AWS because of ruling out other options. People often don’t think much of their episodes because they are only a few seconds or minutes long. Doctors have no actual test they can use to diagnose AWS but some things that they can do to help them see if the patient has AWS is an MRI scan, blood scans, and electroencephalography(EEG). An EEG will measure the electrical activity in the brain.
Doctors are trying to find the cause for AWS, but at the same time, they are trying to find a cure. There is no treatment or cure for AWS yet, so the best way to handle your symptoms is to just rest and wait for them to pass. Another thing that can help is to treat your symptoms like any other person would. For example, if you normally get migraines during an episode, take painkillers, or whatever you would do normally if you didn’t have AWS. Over time AWS can get better.
Overall, the symptoms of AWS are disorienting, but they are not harmful to you. Doctors are trying to find a cure and a cause for AWS. Over time you will experience the symptoms less and less. AWS may be hard while you are having episodes, but in the end, it’s not the worst thing ever. If you treat AWS the right way, it could even go away entirely as you reach your adulthood.
We chose this article because it is a rare condition of neurological ailment disorder that is not frequently known, and a British psychiatrist Dr. John Todd based it off, of a novel by the author Lewis Carroll, and some movies called Alice In Wonderland(AIWS). This originated in 1955. AIWS is relevant to the 5 Aspects of Wellness because you are mentally affected, you can’t sense out what’s reality and fantasy, it plays tricks on your brain by hallucinating your mind into reforming and reshaping body parts, or what’s adjacent or distant. It’s not a fad, because it’s been around for 64 years, originated from 1955 to 2019, and doctors, psychiatrist, etc. try to find the cure to (AIWS) but have failed, because they couldn’t find functional medical care. I think since doctors like to take on challenges, to medicines, and cure AIWS will be with us for a long time until they find medical treatment. A Healthline source said the potential danger is “ This syndrome can affect multiple senses, including vision, touch, and hearing. You may also lose a sense of time. Time may seem to pass faster or slower than you think. You may feel larger or smaller than you actually are. You may also find that the room you’re in — or the surrounding furniture — seems to shift and feel further away or closer than it really is”, and that’s why many doctors, FDA’s and Psychiatrist think (AIWS), is a danger to reality. Personal things I learned about (AIWS) is, that doctors do not really know what’s causing it but are taking an estimated guess to say that brain tumors, migraines, epilepsy, psychoactive drugs, Epstein-Barr-virus disease are the genesis to (AIWS). That (AIWS) has no official cure, but doctors say to reduce these symptoms you can perform a migraine diet and/or migraine prophylaxis. Since (AIWS) syndrome is an infrequent, uncommon disease, most people are not contained with it yet, but statistics show that patients that have a history with migraines have 15% chance of getting(AIWS). I did not know (AIWS), was such a mental disease in the world, that affects your brain into hallucination, or that (AIWS) can be a side “disease” to a disease/virus-like migraines, or brain tumor etc. One thing that is surprising is that an inside source Helene Stapinski said “The New York Times, writer Helene Stapinski shared her personal experience with the syndrome. Stapinski recounts how her daughter while suffering from a bad headache, told her “Everything in the room looks really small.” This realization opened a door to Stapinski own experiences with this rare syndrome, and the story caught fire on social media in the following days. Studies show that out of the 48 people who had (AIWS) later on ensued migraines and headaches that weren’t in their heredity. BioMed Research International said “In 1952, Lippman firstly described several patients experiencing sensations of becoming remarkably tall or short during attacks of migraines. Lately, Coleman found the same symptoms in a young patient with schizophrenia, who referred that she felt just like Alice in Wonderland, because of her sensation of shrinking and enlarging.”
Psychology in Alice in Wonderland
There is a strong emphasis on the seriousness psychological disorders and mental health in the world today. In the entertainment industry, these disorders are often prevalent in the characters depicted in television shows and the movies. One movie in particular is Disneys Alice in Wonderland, which features complex characters who navigate a variety of personality traits and behaviors typical of psychological disorders.
One of the main characters, the Mad Hatter, is obviously dealing with Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a very difficult disorder because it makes people have mood swings, which means they can be happy and become depressed in a quick manner.
Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy filled with many hallucinations to the audiences vision. This film is about a teenager named Alice, who visits a magical underland that she has no recognition of when she was younger, and reunites with familiar faces: the Mad Hatter, Dormhouse, Cheshire Cat, and Queen of Hearts.
Throughout the movie, there are some scenes where the Mad Hatter shows his bipolar personality. One of the scenes is at the tea party where the Mad Hatter is extremely angry at March Hare for suggesting the use of butter on his watch, but then changes into a calm person and pours tea on the Dormhouse and switches the topic of conversation. Another scene at the tea party shows the Mad Hatter getting mad at Alice because she is asking the Dormhouse too many questions and he feels left out. As a result, he makes them switch places at the table so he can have a conversation with Alice independently. Another important scene in the movie is when the Mad Hatter goes to the Queen of Hearts kingdom. He thinks that it is very funny that she is putting her legs on a pig. He starts laughing out loud but then the queen tells him to stop laughing, and he puts a serious look upon his face. The final scene that features the Mad Hatters disorder is when the Cheshire Cat said to the Matt Hatter that he used to be the life of the party. As a result of Cheshire Cats comment, the Mad Hatter starts yelling at him, but Dormhouse tells the Mad Hatter to stop yelling, where he changes into a calm state of mind.
Bipolar disorder is periods of mood that may range from normal to manic, with or without episodes of depression(Elmhorst, 2016, 424). There are two divisions of this disorder, which are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I is when an individual may experience mood swings that go from normal to a depressive state. Bipolar II is when spans of normal mood are interspersed with episodes of hypomania for which the American Psychological Association, 2013, defines this as a level of mood that is elevated but at a level below or less severe than full mania(Elmhorst, 2016, p. 424-425). This symptom was first documented by French psychiatrist, Jean-Pierre Falret. Falret published an article describing circular insanity, which talked about people changing from major depression to excitement. He is also known for distinguishing the genetic connection in bipolar disorder, which is something that professionals in health are still in agreement of in todays society. (Healthline.com). There was a longitudinal study completed at the University of Michigan in the United States to determine the total amount of people that have bipolar. The team at the school came up with a conclusion that 730 people had bipolar disorder, and 277 people did not, and three-quarters of the people that were a part of the study were active research participants(Uofmhealth.org). They also came up with characteristics that each of the people had with the disorder which included changes in their thinking, psychological dimensions including personality, patterns of sleep, and circadian rhythms. (Uofmhealth.org). In todays society, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, however, there are many types of therapy to help regulate this disorder, which include regular therapy, interpersonal, and electroconvulsive. Regular therapy prevents injury to oneself and works for people to enjoy an effective life at home, work, and school, especially college and high school. Interpersonal helps with boosting peoples relationships with other peers and managing their regular routines that they complete everyday. Electroconvulsive therapy helps people who are dealing with major symptoms that are associated with bipolar disorder. (Psychguides.com).
Disneys Alice in Wonderland is a motion picture for people of all ages to watch. Young children will find the movie very entertaining with the characters quirky personalities, where an older audience will have an understanding of the deeper meanings in the movie and its portrayal of a manic depression in the Mad Hatter character. In the film, Johnny Depp did an excellent job acting out the many personality variations a person with Bipolar disorder may experience. Bipolar is a mental health disorder that is hard to overcome. There are some treatments available to people to improve the symptoms and make it easier to control. With more awareness and a stronger emphasis on mental health in this country, hopefully more treatments will be available in the future.
Problems with Perception with Migraine Auras and Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Problems with perception with migraine auras and Alice in Wonderland syndrome Perception is a daily occurrence involved in taste, touch, smell, and vision. Perception plays a role in all sensory information (Rice University, 2016).Details, for example, how big is this room compared to me, or, that pie smells like my grandmothers, are both sensory inputs. However, the way the information is categorized, and much of its relevance, is based on an individual’s perception.
Perceptions can mean that a stimulus is perceived to be a certain way, in reference to size, shape, color and relevance, by different individuals based on each individual’s personality, experiences, and upbringing (Rice University, 2016). Perception creates taste preferences and makes some sounds beautiful and others unpleasant (Rice University, 2016). Perception of distance, both physical distance, or the requirements to reach a goal, can influence actions and decisions. Perception may not match reality. Illusions are an example of when perception does not match reality (Rice University, 2016).
Illusions are not the only way perception can be altered. Alteration of perception occurs in both migraine auras and is clearly demonstrated at an extreme level in the Alice in Wonderland syndrome. Alteration of perception can be visual or tactile and may affect body size and sense of motion. Auras are most commonly a visual disturbance in perception but may also affect other senses such as taste, hearing, or motor control. The Alice in Wonderland syndrome is thought to be a migraine aura, of sorts. However, the syndrome is not very well understood and has been attributed to several causes. This paper will address perception and two key disturbances found in perception. Migraine is a rather common disorder involving a headache that can last for several days and is recurring (Weatherall,2015). It is though that 1 in 10 people suffer from migraines. (Elrington,2002). Migraines may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light and loss of appetite.(Weatherall,2015). Migraines are thought to have a genetic component. However, events may also drigger the disorder. Migraine auras are thought to be a warning system that precedes impending migraines. Auras are a disturbance in perception. They are usually visual in nature. Migraine auras present days to hours before a migraine and typically last between five to twenty minutes (Elrington,2002). These five to twenty minute disturbances can greatly alter perception by causing some type of illusion or hallucination (Hadjikhani et al 2000). Auras may simply cause spots, gaps, blind spots, and other such changes in the visual field (Weatherall,2015).
Migraine auras are not thought to be the result of problems in the visual field or with the eyes, but with perception. This change in perception is also found in auras that alter the perception of body size. Size perception in migraine auras present as macrosomatognosia which is the perception of body parts being larger, and macrosomatognosia which is the perception of body parts as being smaller (Podoll K & Robinson D, 2000). These change in perception can be localized to one region of the body such as the hands or the head or may involve the whole body. However, this is rare (Podoll K & Robinson D, 2000). Migraine auras are common and can be treated with medication, if the warning is heeded it can help prevent the oncoming migraine. However little is understood regarding what causes them and why and how they change perception. Several explanations have been put forth and longer episodes have been studied using MRI. One such study addressed the mechanisms in the brain that may be involved in auras. Hadjikhani and colleagues studied patients with a history of migraines with auras in the attempt to trigger an aura in an MRI machine. A flickering checkerboard was used to trigger an aura in the first patient while exercise was used to trigger an aura in a second patient (Hadjikhani et al 2000). The study found that auras may be caused by abnormal blood flow in the occipital lobe ( Hadjikhani et al 2000).
Migraine auras help explain the ways in which perception can be altered. They present an opportunity for auras to be properly imaged and studied. While the causes of migraine auras are not agreed upon, it is generally understood that they cause a disturbance in perception. This means that there is nothing wrong with the systems they affect, and sensation and sensory stimuli do not play a role. Migraine auras are a well known example of a disturbance found in perception, but they tend to be small difference such as a gap or spots in the visual field. The Alice in Wonderland syndrome is an example of a dramatic disturbance in perception. The Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a rare perceptual disorder (Mastria et al 2016). Referred to as AIWS, this disorder primarily affects visual perception and somesthetic perception. However, it has been attributed to a variety of perceptual disturbances (Mastria et al 2016). AIWS can also affect body schema and perception of time (Blom,2016). AIWS was discovered in 1955 and has only recently begun to be understood (Blom,2016). AIWS is most prevalent in children. However it can affect adults, especially at sleep onset (Mastria et al 2016). It can be difficult to identify exactly what AIWS is. Originally, it was a term used to describe illusionary disturbances in body size perception (Fine,2018). Vision distortion occurs as either microsia, the perception that an object is smaller than is actually is, or micropsia, the perception that an object is larger than is is in reality (Serhat,2017).
Metamorphopsia is the general term used to describe an assortment of distortion is size, distance, color and shape (Serhat,2017). Unlike migraines, in which disturbances in perception may be relatively minor, AIWS causes larger, more bizarre perceptual distortions (Serhat,2017). Often these disturbances are classified as illusory in nature (Serhat,2017). Visual perceptions such as family members appearing enormous or rooms size shrinking and or the perception that the individual is now too big for the room are common in AIWS. In one such case, a young girl reported disturbances in perception though to be due to AIWS. The girl reported that her cat often appeared to be a tiger, as well as a few other disturbances in the perception of household items (Serhat,2017). Other than the change in perception no other problems were found. However, the girl did have a history of migraines (Serhat,2017). AIWS has been linked to several potential causes. These are epilepsy, Epstein virus, influenza and headaches with migraines, in particular (Mastria et al 2016). Perception iis based on personal experiences, culture and personality (Rice University, 2016). However migraines seem to plays a role in disturbances in perception. This is demonstrated in migraine auras and AIWS. AIWS may be a migraine aura. At the very least, there seems to be a correlation between the two.
AIWS is reported in patients with migraine history. It is believed that both conditions are genetically linked in this way. Migraine auras and AIWS share many symptoms. Perhaps AIWS is just an aura on a larger scale. Both migraine auras and AIWS occur more frequently in females (Mastria et al 2016). These changes to perception can be unsettling, but they are not dangerous. Patients seem to understand that the problem is with perception and not with reality. Many patients have learned that such a disturbance will dissipate in anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. In the case of children, it may be hard for the child to effectively communicate what is happening, and parents may be concerned. However AIWS usually disappears before adulthood, with full migraines emerging in their place. One of the main problems with AIWS is that it is hard to diagnose since it can have a wide variety of symptoms associated with it. A second problem is differentiating it from migraine auras because they can be similar. Both syndromes may cause changes in perception, but the severity of the disturbance often separates the two. AIWS disturbances are illusionary in nature, while auras are not.
Understanding auras and what an extreme syndrome, such as AIWS looks like may help guide research pertaining to migraines. Auras are an early warning system. So perhaps better understanding the aura could help prevent the migraine if the aura is treated properly. Perception is closely tied to an individual’s culture and upbringing and previous knowledge. Individuals may not be conscious of minor changes in perception. However, migraine auras are a noticeable change in perception for many and at the extreme end alice in wonderland syndrome may cause a more disturbing and often larger change to perception. Alice in wonderland syndrome is thought to be most prevalent in people with migraines or migraine history. However it can appear duer to other causes cusch as infections. Better understanding alice in wonderland syndrome and recognizing the many symptoms may help to help further understanding of what is at play in the brain and how to treat severe cases.
Disorienting Neuropsychological Condition – AiWS
Alice in Wonderland syndrome or AiWS is a disorienting neuropsychological condition that affects perception. A English psychiatrist named John Todd named this condition in 1955 after the main character, Alice. In the book, she sees the world shift again and again as she falls down a rabbit hole. As the story continues, she finds a bottle marked drink me and when she drank it, Alice turned small enough to fit in a tiny dorr. Then she finds a cake marked eat me and when she ate it, Alice became big enough to reach a key on a tall table.
Alice in Wonderland syndrome can affect your perception in different ways. Some symptoms are that your body may look bigger, smaller, closer, or farther that what it really is. Straight lines may look wavy and things may change colors or tilt to the side. Faces can appear distorted and colors may look extra bright. Three dimensional figures may look flat and your sense of time may be distorted, making it seem that it is going too fast or too slow. Noted symptoms of AiWs also include false orientation of objects in space, one object appearing as two or more, inverted vision, impaired sense of time, and feeling detached with personality changes.
The cause of the syndrome is however, unknown to both scientist and doctors. When a patient who had AiWs was tested, he turned up negative for all of the tests such as the Epstein-Barr virus-virus serological testing. Many agree that several causes could be a migraine, epilepsy, infections, strokes, or depression. The reason that doctors have struggled over what the cause could be is because getting the syndrome is extremely rare and is usually grown out. In fact, a doctor was surprised when she learned that a whole family had experience with the syndrome.as said Dr.Aurora was fascinated to learn of so many people in one family being affected; the condition is considered so rare that here have been few studies of it This shows how rare the disease is to obtain. Another reason would be that in order to study the condition at work, youd have to scan the brain of someone while they are having an episode. This is an example of a doctor scanning the brain of someone while they are having an episode: Dr.Sheena Aurora, a Stanford neurologist and migraine specialist, was the first to scan the brain of someone – a 12 year old girl – in the middle of an episode. In addition, the syndrome only affects people under the age of 18 and there are few cases in which it can happen to older adults.
Even though there has been few documentations of the syndromes in the works, we do learn much from Dr.Auroras research. We find that when a person who has AiWs focuses on one thing, such as a ticking clock, it can trigger the AiWs. For example, when Dr.Aurora was testing Ana, a 12 year old girl from Seattle, they were attempting to capture an actual picture of the syndrome. They were able to trigger the auras whenever Ana concentrated hard on a printed page. She says Sometimes when Im really focusing on a piano piece, the notes will just zoom, zoom up, so theyre just really big, like as if you were using a camera and you zoomed up on someone. So the researcher team decided to used a checkerboard pattern that would allow the brain to trigger Anas aura. It worked and the research team was able to see what was happening in the brain. What occurred was that two areas of the brain lit up and a burst of electrical activity caused abnormal blood to flow in the area vision and the part of the brain that affects size, shape, and texture. This blood could be different than normal blood, which could be why the brain reacts differently to the same object, like a piece of paper. What we learn from this is that certain things trigger the syndrome with each person.
Now as for treatment options for the syndrome, there isnt many things that you can do to treat yourself. If you or a person you know is experiencing this condition, the best thing to do is rest and wait for the episode to pass. Also, reassuring those who have the symptom that the syndrome isnt harmful can be of great benefit as well. Being that migraines is one of the main sources for AiWs, consulting your doctor for the best medication would also be a good option. Using the medication does have a chance at preventing future episodes. If you think stress is the cause, meditation and relaxation may help with the symptoms. Also, be reminded that you will usually grow out of this as you grow into a adult.
This is the passage in which Alice grows and shrinks: There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (“which certainly was not here before,” said Alice), and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters. It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison’ or not”; for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.However, this bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off.”What a curious feeling!” said Alice. “I must be shutting up like a telescope!”
And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high(Carroll, 1)
Here the story is saying that Alice was trying to get to the garden but could not, because the door that lead to it was too small. This is when she finds a bottle marked Drink me and when she drank the bottle, she became ten inches tall. The new height size allowed for he to enter the garden through the small door. This is related to the syndrome because one of the side effects is that you may appear small compared to other objects, such as a chair.
This is the passage in which Alice begins speaking to animals as she is swimming: ‘Would it be of any use, now,’ thought Alice, ‘to speak to this mouse? Everything is so out-of-the-way down here, that I should think very likely it can talk: at any rate, there’s no harm in trying.’ So she began: ‘O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here, O Mouse!’ (Alice thought this must be the right way of speaking to a mouse: she had never done such a thing before, but she remembered having seen in her brother’s Latin Grammar, ‘A mouse of a mouse to a mouse a mouse O mouse!’ The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively, and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but it said nothing. ‘Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,’ thought Alice; ‘I daresay it’s a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.’ (For, with all her knowledge of history, Alice had no very clear notion how long ago anything had happened.) So she began again: ‘Ou est ma chatte?’ which was the first sentence in her French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all over with fright. ‘Oh, I beg your pardon!’ cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal’s feelings. ‘I quite forgot you didn’t like cats.’ ‘Not like cats!’ cried the Mouse, in a shrill, passionate voice. ‘Would you like cats if you were me?'(Carroll, 2)
Here, as she is swimming in her tears after becoming two inches tall, she encounters a mouse. Alice was confused and lost, and since she was already having a crazy day, she thought anything could happen at that time period. This would be a reference to the syndrome because at that state, anything could happen. When a person is having an episode, they could think anything is possible because of all the unusual things that were happening. So Alice tries making contact with the mouse by asking for its help. The mouse didnt reply and only winked. However when Alice said Ou est ma chatte? or in english, where is my cat, the mouse became frightened and started speaking.
In conclusion, AiWs or Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a syndrome that can affect a persons perception of reality. Some of the side effects are distortion, color change, and your body may be bigger, smaller, farther, or closer than it really is. However, there is nothing to fear since the syndrome cannot harm you in any way and it usually passes around adulthood. Several ways to treat it are medication for migraines, meditation and relaxation.
Schizophrenia in Alice in Wonderland
- 1 Abstract:
- 2 Introduction:
- 3 Present Case:
- 4 Methodology:
- 5 Results:
- 6 Discussion:
- 7 Recommendations:
Alice is seen to have Schizophrenia. She sees things that arent there, she talks with caterpillars and associates with imaginary things, such as floating cats. On top of all of this she seems to grow and shrink her body to different sizes, while convinced that this whole magical world that shes in is real.
Alice as well faces violent situations in this wonderland , like when the queen of hearts tries to cut off Alices head several times. It is safe to say that even though Alice was kind of skeptical at first when seeing the Wonderland, she quickly and easily gave in and believed that it was real. This could be seen as Schizophrenia, seeing as how Alice seems to have lost touch with reality and how she sees and believes things that arent really there or possible.
Schizophrenia is a very rare but possible mental disorder that usually starts between 16-30 years old, but it can start in children too. Many traits of Schizophrenia are shown in Alice, with her having full on conversations with animals and imaginary things and convinced that the magical world she lives in and the things that happen in there are all real. The purpose of this case study is to diagnose Alice and see if she could possibly have Schizophrenia.
With previous examinations on Alice already, most of them are convinced she IS Schizophrenic. It is said by one study that, We notice that no one in the real world can see this world that Alice experiences. And even though Alice is in disbelief at first, she quickly gives in to the notion that Wonderland is real (charanee.wordpress). This is one of the main points that shows that Alice could have Schizophrenia. As well of all of this, Alice is seen to befriend a floating cat and caterpillar, while talking to them as if its normal. She as well gets scared for her life constantly, with the Queen of Hearts wanting to cut her head off all the time, which is very abnormal. Plus Alices body is seen to grow and shrink to different sizes constantly, as if its a normal thing. The plan for this case is to examine Alice overall just to make sure Schizophrenia is the real case here.
The main psychological tool I will use to conduct this case study is observation. I will just examine and observe Alice as she does her normal everyday things until I notice something that seems off and points to Schizophrenia.
After observing Alice and seeing her talk to things that arent there and after she described to me what she sees, which was not what I saw and it wasnt to visible to anyone but her, I determined that Alice most definitely has Schizophrenia. She shows all signs of this mental disorder, such as irrational beliefs and many more. After trying to figure out how to help Alice, I determined a therapist and medication would help her the most.
Progress made, is that I was able to determine that Alice did have Schizophrenia due to the signs she showed and the ways she acted and her actions. Alice most definitely sees things that arent really there and on top of that she communicates with them, as if its normal and their real. She as well sees many concerning things that, like shrinking and growing, that she doesnt question. Everything that Alice faces in her little Wonderland is all parts of her Schizophrenia, since none of it is real or even realistic. Not only all of this but she as well constantly fears for her life due to her thinking that the Queen of Hearts is going to cut her head off. All of these have helped me determine that Alice most defiantly is faced with a case of Schizophrenia.
Firstly to help Alice with her Schizophrenia, I think she most definitely needs to go see a therapist. A therapist will help her and get her to talk about the things she sees to where hopefully after a while she will realize that those things are imaginary. I think a therapist will be good for her and her health. Secondly, I think Alice needs to put on Antipsychotic medications, as those have been proven to treat symptoms of Schizophrenia.
Treatment of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
GP: to inform
SP: to inform my audience about what Alice in Wonderland syndrome is and its origins, the symptoms that patients with AIWS experience, and the treatment options available if applicable.
CI: In most fantasy filled films, the movie-goers usually do not expect that of real life experiences to become a reality much like Alice in Wonderland syndrome where there it has its roots from its upbringing, the symptoms associated with the disease, as well as treatment that patients may try.
- 1 Introduction:
- 2 Conclusion
- 3 References
Dr. Seuss once said, I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.
(Relate topic to audience)
Much like the way different movie genres play in our heads as we watch them, we wouldnt usually expect experiences in an animation to be a reality. Everyone has seen Alice in Wonderland at least once in their life, and crazily enough, all the weird perceptions and situations Alice goes through can be found in people around, whether thats a friend or a stranger to you.
Im personally majoring in the field of neuropsychology so I can offer some knowledge about how this disorder ultimately affects the brain.
In order to really know what Alice in Wonderland syndrome is, youll first be taken to the origins of its presence, then be informed about the symptoms that can be found of those suffering from AIWS, and lastly figuring out treatment options suitable for these patients.
From the first time the acronym AIWS was used to merely describe illusions seen by the perceptual eye, it evolved to diagnosing patients who have abnormal cerebral perfusion.
English psychiatrist John Todd was the first to use this term.
Todd used the term in association with the body distortions and image illusion that children who suffered from migraines and epilepsy were seeing due to their condition.
Alice from Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland novel inspired the application of the disorder name to describe her hallucinated episodes.
B. Alice in Wonderland syndrome is defined as a neurological condition consisting of disorientating episodes mostly found in children and adults around the ages of fifty and sixty.
1. British neurologist William Gowers in 1907 reported that children with seizures experience, feelings of unreality in what is seen.
2. A majority of patients with this syndrome often have a family history of migraine headache or have overt migraine themselves.
Transition: Now that you are informed on the basis of what AIWS is, I will lay out the common symptoms of this disorder.
II. According to Biomedical Central in a case report written in 2017 by Yokoyama and his colleagues, they describe three symptoms that patients reported over the years that correlate to Alice in Wonderland syndrome.
The first symptom is extrapersonal visual image (micropsia, macropsia, teleopsia)
People may see things such as objects or people being smaller (micropsia), larger/taller (macropsia), and further away than they actually are (teleopsia).
In the case report done by Yokoyama and his colleagues, they studied a 63 year old Japanese man whose surroundings were extremely small in his perception. He gave up driving due to disruption in his sense of distance and speed as the cars around him looked way too small.
Another symptom of this disease is an altered perception of ones body image.
Individuals will feel as though their bodies have been altered in size and will have visual perceptions.
People may have intense and explicit hallucinations such as seeing objects that everyone else around them cannot see and misinterpreting their own perceptions.
The last symptom reported is a disturbed sense of the passage of distance and time.
Illusionary movement is very common with this symptom, patients experience a distortion of time perception with either the time moving too fast or too slow.
The same elderly man in the case report admitted to feeling as though he could surpass great distances even with the knowledge that it couldnt be possible. He felt as if he could reach the center of Tokyo from his home in a blink of an eye despite the 31 mile distance from both places.
Transition: Last, but not least we are going to explore the treatment options.
III. Unfortunately, there is no array of options in terms of treatment. According to a case report written in 2011 by Blom and colleagues on the fMRI findings for the treatment of AIWS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is the main source of treatment for patients.
In the case report they found that those with the symptoms of AIWS usually connected to having verbal auditory hallucinations and are early signs of a viral infection.
The relationship between Alice and Wonderland syndrome and those also experiencing verbal auditory hallucinations have led researchers to turn to transcranial magnetic stimulations for complete remission of symptoms.
An fMRI is conducted in order to localize cerebral activity in the left and right gyri and the prefrontal cortex. From there, they used the fMRI to activate certain parts of the brain so remission was successful.
A 36 year old woman was the patient of Blom and his colleagues in this case report to test the treatment. They found that while the TMS treatments worked to lessen her sensory distortions and perceptions they were able to conclude that these stimulation treatments have therapeutic effects on the symptoms of those suffering from AIWS.
B. In other cases (clinical) where some patients did not experience having verbal auditory hallucinations, they were often prescribed antiepileptic drugs, antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and painkillers.
When there are underlying issues such as migraines and epilepsy, individuals are further assessed and are later prescribed to different drugs.
With the drug prescription for these patients, there is no guaranteed induction or aggravation of the drugs in ones system.
Transition: In short, although this disorder is not commonly known, it justifies itself as being equally important to any other familiarized disorder in the community.
(Recap main points/thesis)
I. Alice in Wonderland syndrome can be dated back as far as the early 1900s where it was first used.
II. There are three symptoms most frequently found in patients who have AIWS.
III. Treatment is available but differs in many different cases.
(Conclude with a memorable and creative thought): Illness and art have a relationship to them that we have yet to realize sometimes, the next time you think something is just mere fantasy, you might think twice about it being somebody elses reality.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. (2016, June 15). Retrieved June 12 2018, from https://www.medicalbag.com/profile-in-rare-diseases/alice-in-wonderland-syndrome/article/472825/
Blom, J. D., Looijestijn, J., Goekoop, R., Diederen, K. M. J., Rijkaart, A., Slotema, C. W., & Sommer, I. E. C. (2011). Treatment of alice in wonderland syndrome and verbal auditory hallucinations using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: A case report with fMRI findings. Psychopathology, 44(5), 337-44. https://ezproxy.canyons.edu:2069/10.1159/000325102 Retrieved from https://ezproxy.canyons.edu:2048/login?url=https://ezproxy.canyons.edu:2457/docview/883071540?accountid=38295
Brumm, K., Walenski, M., Haist, F., Robbins, S. L., Granet, D. B., & Love, T. (2010, August). Retrieved June 12, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928409/
Fine, Edward, et al. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome:A History (P6.337). Neurology, Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on Behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, 6 Apr. 2015, n.neurology.org/content/84/14_Supplement/P6.337.
Yokoyama, T., Okamura, T., Takahashi, M., Momose, T., & Kondo, S. (2017, April 27). A case of recurrent depressive disorder presenting with Alice in Wonderland syndrome: psychopathology and pre- and post-treatment FDG-PET findings. Retrieved June 12, 2018, from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-017-1314-2
Alice as Innocence and Temptation
Although there is much controversy surrounding Lewis Carroll’s relationships with and feelings towards little girls, it is a simple fact that his works “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” have been widely revered for their comedic and imaginative natures. His photography, however, (which is often under his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) while technically and aesthetically masterful, is more criticized and certainly less widely appreciated than his writing. At first glance, it can seem as if Carroll’s different mediums convey in him dual personalities and objectives, even in terms of a single muse; Alice’s stories are whimsical and playful accounts of a young “maiden[‘s]” adventures, while the photographs of her are often seen as eroticized images depicting a vulnerable child in sometimes downright compromising positions, with the purpose of serving a perverse male gaze. This misconception cannot be maintained at a closer glance, because upon examining certain scenes and motifs in the Alice texts, it is clear that Alice Liddell’s written counterpart is every bit as eroticized as her photographic form. The scene in which Alice’s body is stretched and she encounters a pigeon begs the question of whether Alice is a little girl or a serpent, whether she is innocence or temptation, or if they are the “same thing after all” (Schanoes). Using evidence from his journals, poetry, and mainly his Alice texts and photographs, it can be argued that for Carroll, innocence was temptation, and they were the same thing, after all. Although it is not clear whether his purpose was to sexualize Alice in the photos he took of her, Lewis Carroll does so in a somewhat blatant manner. In one photograph, Alice can be seen centered among what appears to be shrubbery, with unidentifiable white drapery falls off of her shoulder to reveal her left nipple (Carroll 280). Her hand is on her hip as she looks tauntingly at the viewer, and leaves the viewer wondering why exactly she is depicted in such a way (Kincaid 275). In a similar photograph, Alice’s body is covered entirely, again she is wearing white, and if possible, it seems more provocative than the one previously mentioned. Perhaps this difference, in spite of the difficulty posed by being fully clothed, is due to the even more impish and knowing smirk than in the other photograph (Carroll 279). Indeed, the knowing smile is likely evidence of “enticing knowledge of her own reserve” allowing her to “elude even her own photographs” (Kincaid 276). Many of these photographs posed by Alice do display coyness and reserve, but certain others have what seems like crassly overt sexuality. For instance, in another photo, Alice dons a similar large white dress, which seems to be buttoned entirely up the collar. She is with her two sisters, wearing identical dresses, and Lorina is feeding her cherries. Alice is standing very upright, with her back slightly arched and her mouth opened (Carroll 282). The camera seems to linger on the position of her head and the profile of her face, which seems notably erotic as her sister dangles cherries in the air. Such an image can only lend notions to seemingly more innocent and chaste images of Alice- (such as one where she is fully clothed, sitting on a bench and wearing a headdress, faced away from the camera, and not casting a lingering gaze) of satirical or pretended innocence, rather than actual. However, Alice was very young and was very likely a typical little girl, and not an erotic deviant, as photos would have one believe. The provocative nature of these photographs is a direct result of Carroll’s keen skillful eye in posing Alice, directing her motions and expressions, and capturing her in a sexual light; his fantasies came alive through the camera. In later accounts of her memories of Carroll, an adult Alice Liddell recounts watching him develop photographs by saying “Besides, the dark room was so mysterious, and we felt that any adventures might happen there” (Carroll 278). Although reading any implications of Carroll’s in this circumstance would be presumptuous, there is certainly an ominous air to what Alice recounts as an adult, which she does not acknowledge. The admission of this acknowledgement at least demonstrates a lack of “enticing knowledge” on her part of “her own reserve” and quite possibly demonstrates naievete, which all counter the erotic nature of her appearance in the photographs. Therefore, it is artfully constructed or especially captured by Carroll. Lending credence to the view that the photographic Alice and the textual Alice are not similarly sexualized, are the other inherent visual differences in both representations of Alice. The real-life Alice Liddell, as shown in photographs, had short brown hair and dark eyes, as straight across bangs. Hairstyle and color may not initially seem to be an important factor, but it is one of the main ways in which Tenniel’s drawings of Alice are distinct, and there is a clearly large difference, in this capacity, between the Alices. The Alice portrayed in Wonderland and through the looking-glass has long blonde flowing hair, and it is pushed back to reveal her entire forehead. The hairstyles are nearly as opposite as they could be, and another important physical distinction is in their eyes, Clearly a drawing will be less accurate than a photograph, but Tenniel’s depiction of Alice’s eyes shows them as large, widely open, and almost considerably more curious and less mischievous than those of the real person in pictures. Again, Carroll must have pulled the strings, and brought about exactly what he desired as an end product of the photographs, but with this in mind, one wonders why the fictional Alice has these physical distinctions if the non-fictional Alice does not. If the real Alice’s image can be so manipulated, then the fictional Alice is a clearly fraught construct of Carroll’s, and with much deliberation. Carroll himself has said that he would like his books to be read “gently and lovingly,” similar to the manner in which they were written (Kincaid 218). Therefore, one can easily understand why Carroll created his vision of Alice in such a way, because since the child is “artificial,” then there is no reason that it wouldn’t be to one’s particular liking, and according to Kincaid, gentleness can be made to the order” (Kincaid 219). Since gentleness and modesty were characteristics which Carroll especially esteemed, he created an Alice in this image; by taking the Alice he so admired and fine-tuning any qualities which may have undermined her “gentleness” or purity, Carroll created an Alice to be adored by the masses. Along with this, his constructed Alice can be considered a blank slate; she is small, young, impressionable, fair-skinned, light-haired, has wide circular eyes, and is “aesthetically indistinct” (Bruhm and Hurley). These “gentle” and indistinct qualities serve to further eroticize Alice, though they may seem, on the contrary, to emanate innocence. This version of Alice, more than anything else, may be Carroll’s form of a psychological construct, of his own desires, or those anticipated desires of the reader. The washed complexion and hair and the eyes, which, inconsistent with her character, convey no expression, are all ways in which Carroll can make Alice erotic, through creating blankness (Bruhm and Hurley). Such light features are not innately more enticing, but rather, they signify nothing and therefore “[do] not interfere with projections” (Bruhm and Hurley). Just as importantly, the epitome of an erotic child, which is any reader’s template to project their own preferences and desires, also tends to be sporadically foolish in certain instances, and bourgeois in background. It is for this very reason that Carroll posed Alice in usually all white for her photographs. He clearly could not change her physical appearance, and adored her the way she was, so he would not have wanted to; to ensure her alluring appearance, though, while simultaneously keeping her modest, Carroll almost exclusively captured her in white. Controlling her outfit color was the most Carroll could do to make his Alice as blank as possible, and therefore, appeal to as many gazes as possible. In creating an image of a child so malleable and so susceptible to outer projection, Carroll also created a child quite exploitable. He pokes fun at this idea, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when Alice finds the bottle that says “DRINK ME” (Carroll 56). Sarcastically, Carroll calls her “wise little Alice” when she looks for a sign marked poison. While the humor in this scene can be appreciated, there is something very unsettling about it. Although the liquid merely changes her size, the potential for danger upon drinking from an unknown bottle, especially contrasted with Alice’s false sense of security when she does not find the word poison, demonstrates the ease with which Alice could be endangered, and possibly exploited, even sexually. This humor is rather dark, as Alice could be put into imminent danger, but in light of the fact that she is not and that Carroll has direct control over this, the humor is a manifestation of his own mixed feelings of latent adoration, sexual frustration, desire for Alice, and slight resentment that he cannot have her in the way he would like. Along with these feelings, and to more completely portray Alice in the light of the “erotic child,” Carroll writes Alice as passive, and often denies her of her feelings, such as anger, indignation, hunger and loneliness (Garland). Carroll liked children to be modest, polite, and not excessive in any way, particularly in hunger. A very well-known quirk of Carroll is that he was repulsed by a ravenous appetite, which explains the character of the Duchess, and also the Red Queen, and why both characters were so contemptible (Garland). To go along with their odious depictions, Carroll was very fond of little girls, but tended to dislike women, and therefore their transition into women. Speaking of the much-admired child Alice Liddell, Carroll wrote in a journal entry “Alice seems changed a good deal and hardly for the better—probably going through the usual awkward stage of transition” (Carroll 246). As a result, grown women were written as unlikable characters, and are connected with gluttony and large appetites (Garland). Therefore, it stands to reason that Alice would be pitted against many of these women. In so doing, Carroll indirectly demonstrates his belief in the sexual superiority and superior desirability of girls to women. Alice has composure, manners, and is illustrated to appear pretty, while the few women in both Alice texts tend to be hideous. The way in which Carroll stifles any ugliness, excessiveness, or undesirable feelings in the fictional Alice—and in so doing, manages to somewhat stifle her voice, rob her of agency and objectify her entirely—is believed to be desperate manipulation by Carroll, due to his anxieties about Alice maturing into adolescence (Garland). Another instance in which Alice is taken completely out of control is when she is very small and speaking to the caterpillar. Alice is an extremely shrunken size at this point, and is feeling quite vulnerable, as evidenced when the caterpillar asks who she is and she responds with: “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present”…”I ca’n’t explain myself. I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself, you see (Carroll 84).” When the caterpillar finally answers how she can grow larger, and he tells her to take a bite out of one side of the mushroom, she cannot hear him and he does not specify what side. This leaves Alice just as confused as before, if not more, and she must do something, because she cannot remain so small. This part is especially interesting, because the caterpillar’s behavior seems to be intentional. He seems to want to be evasive towards Alice, possibly to leave her in a lurch, because he seems somewhat bothered by her naiveté or her present insecurity. The caterpillar’s responses to Alice can be read as ambivalent. While he seems less foolish and (maybe) wiser than the rest of the mad creatures in Wonderland, he is also doubtlessly argumentative and desires to leave Alice powerless. However, the powerlessness which he bestows upon Alice is very possibly his singular faith in her maturation. However, if this is so, then it is just as crucial to note that the caterpillar has only a small role—perhaps important—but not recurrent. Most importantly, Alice leaves the caterpillar still relatively vulnerable and powerless, which is how Carroll likes to keep her most of the time in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. When there are deviations of any form (such as when Alice holds on to some control), the reader feels Carroll grappling with his own feelings, coming to terms with Alice’s inevitable eventual “transition” and relinquishing his control. There is a subtle power struggle between fictional Alice and Carroll, in which Carroll comes out on top, by making Wonderland and the looking-glass elaborate dreams. In a different and more narrowly sexualized scene, Alice relinquishes all control and is victim of her strange circumstance. When Alice falls down the rabbit hole, she cannot see in any direction because it is dark, so she can only wonder what will happen. She anticipates, but has no idea what will become of her at the bottom of the fall (Carroll 52). Alice falling through this hole is a parallel with her going through a birth canal, and being reborn into a woman. Wonderland (although the reader does not know it yet, and nor does Alice) is full of heightened consciousness and realization for Alice, after long periods of confusion. Therefore, the “fall” brings her into a place of more wisdom and knowingness; since this fall is a part of her dream, it represents her going through her own body in order to arrive “on the other end” or in a different form, with the hole alluding to her sexual awakening. The actuality of the fall through the hole being characterized foremost by lack of control points to the lack of control she has over her own sexual identity. This lack of control of her sexuality (including her body, her desires, and her assertiveness against unwanted advances) springs up again in a more conventional yet unsettling way, further on in her adventures in Wonderland. When Alice and the Duchess are walking together after croquet, the Duchess curiously keeps putting her chin on Alice’s shoulder (Carroll 122). Carroll clearly makes this scene strangely repulsive, even though the sexuality aspect is not extremely stark. However, the mood of the scene is set up in such a way that makes the reader shiver with disgust and confusion, especially when the Duchess claims that Alice must be “wondering why [she doesn’t] put [her] arm round [Alice’s] waist” (Carroll 124). As the footnote states, the Duchess very clearly has the face of a grotesque man and continuously invades Alice’s space, wanting to perform an “experiment.” Alice, with her manners intact—that Carroll resolves to preserve even in the face of exploitation and extreme discomfort—as to not be too assertive or strong-minded, reaches for an excuse, and is only saved by the sudden appearance of the Queen (125). Alice’s narrow escapes of many undesirable occurrences leave the reader feeling anxious for her potential danger or exploitation, because of her meekness and sexual appeal.The book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is fraught with Carroll’s reactions to and anxieties over Alice’s impending womanhood. Carroll himself is manifested through the pigeon, when he fearfully accuses Alice of being a serpent. First the pigeon is afraid of Alice, which transforms into a sort of anger and disbelief of what she says and her motives. Similarly, Carroll likely asked himself the question: “Is this Alice Liddell a tool for temptation?” In so asking, he likely considered her to be a deceitful and slippery force, conscious of her powers over him, and with the ability to break him down, or hurt him—(in this case, emotionally). He is also afraid of his feelings for her, and he likely attributes some of the blame to her, for being “serpent-like.” Quite possibly, this is how the allusion came about, eventually leading to the bigger question: Is Alice a girl or serpent? Is she innocent or cunning (temptation)? This leads the reader to decide that Alice is unconsciously cunning, through her power over Carroll. Such is why he must assert such power over his creation of her. The reader may or may not blame Carroll for sexualizing Alice, but regardless, one thing is for sure; part of the eroticism of Alice is written lovingly and not perversely at all. Her very character is erotic because she keeps the reader on their toes; although she acts somewhat passive, she does so in the way that she is always in view, but never too close, and this elusiveness invites the male gaze. Carroll’s Alice, which is probably faithful to the real-life Alice, blends a certain amount of passivity and coyness with just the right amount of stubbornness and unpredictability, that her character “Demands to be loved” and on her terms (Kincaid 274). Although there are certain ways in which Alice remains devoid of power, she is powerful and perpetuating this distance between herself and the greedy eager reader. Though the inability to close this gap may sadden some, a true child-lover such as Carroll sees the hidden blessing, that another generation and another generation of Alice and her adventures may live on, whereas if the gap were closed, it could never be reopened. It is this unexpected, convoluted and maybe perverse, relationship, between the little girl running (jovially, playfully) and the child-lover that is Carroll chasing, figuratively, that breeds such confusing but evidently strong love, that Carroll has for Alice. Such manifestations of this love are often criticized, and often times, rightfully so. Therefore, the reader can side with Alice and detest Carroll’s control over his invented character. However, although this is quite valid, it should not be ignored that the control is a result of strange but real love, and a gaping fear of loss. In Carroll’s poem that concludes Through the Looking-Glass, he shares with the reader his sense of loss once Alice goes from (white) pawn to (red) queen. It is easy to sympathize with his sense of loss, although it is not in the traditional sense, because Alice is still alive. However, he is mourning what he knows can never be again, and the imagery is full of language of finality. The stanza most indicative of his intense feeling of loss is “Still she haunts me phantomwise, Alice moving under skies” (Carroll 223). Carroll likens the older Alice to a ghost, but implies that he dreams about her in the line “Never seen by waking eyes.” These implications of night and dreams further confirm his sexual and romantic feelings toward Alice as a girl. Although this stanza is sentimental, it is also inherently erotic. Words such as “haunts” further frame Carroll as helpless to his desire and Alice as in control of her ability to seduce him. Much like the sense of eternity that his books have given to his friendship with young Alice, the last line of the poem asks “Life, what is it but a dream,” perpetuating the child Alice and perpetuating her adventures.Annotated BibliographyBruhm, Steven, and Natasha Hurley. Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2004. Print. Carroll, Lewis, and John Tenniel. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ; &, Through the Looking Glass. New York: Macmillan, 1963. Print. Garland, Carina. “Curious Appetites: Food, Desire, Gender and Subjectivity in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Texts.” Proquest. N.p., n.d. Web. Kincaid, James R. Child-loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print. Schanoes, Veroncia. “Fearless Children and Fabulous Monsters: Angela Carter, Lewis Carroll and Beastly Girls.” Proquest. N.p., n.d. Web.
Writing for Children: A Study of Two Authors who Truly Understood what Children Love to Read
Both Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows are honored and cherished children’s classics. Though the two stories were written over a hundred years ago, they are still popular and widely loved today. Questions have been raised as to why exactly these two books have turned out to be incredible classics and staple bedtime stories for children everywhere. Many believe the reason for the two stories’ success lies in the core of their meaning – the fact that they deal with basic needs and experiences of children everywhere, no matter the time period. Though the tales are very different, they have some very important likenesses that make them both timeless and relatable to children. The most principle of which is subversion. All of the characters in these two stories celebrate, as Alison Laurie states it, “Daydreaming, disobedience, answering back…[and] running away” (Lurie)¹. For example, both stories deal with the concept of a desire to escape from the ordinary, and rebellion against authority. The four main characters in Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows personify these aspects, and Alice in Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland embodies different characteristics of all four.In The Wind in the Willows, the first character the reader is introduced to is Mole. He is doing spring-cleaning in his underground home, when suddenly he is seized with the urge to be aboveground, carefree and enjoying spring. Then, “he suddenly [flings] down his brush on the floor, said…“Hang spring-cleaning!” and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put his coat on.” He knew he was supposed to be taking care of his house and being responsible, but “something up above was calling him imperiously” (637). Likewise, we first meet Alice outside sitting with her sister, trying to behave, but distracted from that boring task by the appearance of a white rabbit running by. Gripped with curiosity, she finds she must run after it, and so begins her adventure. Alice, like Mole, is very cognizant of the call of escape and adventure, and is eager to follow it wherever it takes her, even if she should know better. A child can easily relate to this as he is constantly being told “what grown-ups [have] decided [he] ought to [do]” (Lurie) when he would much rather be doing something simply for fun. Also like Mole, Alice is – at times – very naïve. When Mole decides he wants adventure, he is determined to have it, even against the warnings of wise counsel. When he travels into the Wild Woods, he is sure he will be able to handle whatever he meets there, but soon finds it is all too much for him, and is terrified (652). Similarly, Alice often lets her knowledge of decency and etiquette get in the way of her common sense. For example, when she approaches the house of the duchess, she is stalled going in by her attempt to reason and be polite with an irrational footman. It would be expected that, once one realized the man did not make sense, one would enter the house himself. In Alice’s case, however, she wastes much time at the door, wanting to do things properly in a very improper world (344-45). In these instances, Moles subversion is disobedience, which initially seems to bring a bad consequence but ultimately brings about a positive occurrence – they find Badger and have more wonderfully fun adventures – such that the message is given that his disobedience was a very good thing after all. In Alice’s case, the message is put across that she should have flown in the face of what the adults at home had taught her was proper. Obviously, trying to politely deal with the footman was a waste of time and rather stupid, when it was quite apparent she need just walk in herself and not bother with the silly and pointless ritual of manners that grown-ups put such importance on.The second character introduced in The Wind in the Willows is Rat. He is a sensible creature, but lives a carefree and fun-loving life in which the “only thing….worth doing [is] messing about in boats” (638). Some parents consider this very subversive, as it condones a pleasure-filled life with little to no responsibility. This fact is also what appeals so grandly to children. Alice – like many children – also experiences an affinity for that type of life. For example, when she is on the riverbank with her sister, she is frightfully bored and tries to remedy this by sneaking peeks at her sister’s book. However, she soon finds this is no good because the book has only words and no pictures. After all, Alice concludes, “what is the use of a book without pictures?” (325). That sort of book is what Laurie describes when discussing books that taught its child readers how “to be more like respectable grown-ups.” These books often had no use or time for pictures, and certainly not pictures that did not assist entirely in reinforcing the “lessons disguised as stories” (Lurie).The next character that appears in The Wind in the Willows is Toad. He is very much like a child in the sense that he is incredibly impulsive and self-indulgent. Unfortunately, these characteristics often lead to self-destruction. In Toad’s case, his addiction to motorcars pulls him into a life of recklessness and crime, where he was before a dignified heir of great wealth and status. He also demonstrates great subversion in his tendency to see himself as above the law. He constantly questions authority, as he refuses to see himself as guilty and constantly finds a way out of punishment – whether from his friends (676) or from the law (687) and often proclaiming things like, “Toad again! Toad, as usual, comes out on top!” (707). Alice is also very impulsive, as demonstrated in the fact that she never fails to eat or drink any food that magically appears before her. She does this even if she recognizes that it may be poison, and remembers what she learned – presumably from a book much like the books “that hoped to teach…manners or morals or both” which Lurie discusses – that “if you drink too much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later” (327). Both Alice and Toad seem to know better, but do the potentially harmful actions anyway, serving as examples for the assertion that children have a desire and compulsion to behave subversively whether they have been taught differently or not, and this is why these books resonate with children.The last main character in The Wind in the Willows is the wise Badger. He is highly respected and his words are often heeded without question. When the animals have gathered at Rat’s house to decide what to do about Toad’s captured home, all the animals shout out ideas or fall into despair, but it is Badger, in his wise way, who reprimands Toad, putting him promptly in his place, and then calmly announces, “There are more ways of getting back a place then taking it by storm. I haven’t said my last word yet” (714). He then goes on to describe the underground tunnel that they can enter the house through, and – without argument – that is exactly what they decide to do. Though Badger is the character most resembling a grown-up in this story, he is still far from the vision of adults that children experience in some literature. He does not recommend “depend[ing] on authority for help” (Lurie), but rather that they take the situation in their own hands in order to right the matter. He also does not hold in his excitement for the coming battle, as, after the final plan is made, he joins in with his other three comrades in jumping about the room and shouting excitedly about the battle to come. Alice can also be considered a wise character. Though she does not always listen to her own advise, she often has some very good bits of wisdom that she reminds herself. She even seeks to punish herself when she feels she has acted foolishly. For example, “once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet” (327). Though she is only a young girl, Alice often quotes what seems to be lessons she has learned from the very sort of instructional books Lurie discusses, such as when she is asked to repeat different verses she has learned, and promptly assumes her reciting stance and begins. However, she is still a picture of subversion, as she usually ends up not getting the verses correctly and saying something nonsensical that would be comical and pleasing to child readers.Throughout Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, examples of subversive behavior are abundant. This is the essence of why both tales are so cherished by children even in modern times. Alice, Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger are all characters used by Carroll and Grahame to delve into different aspects of subversion that children most identify with. Though they all have very different personalities, children can relate to all of them because at their core are the subversive ideals children love to read about and let their imaginations run wild with. Lurie calls books like these “sacred texts” because of the authors’ ability to appreciate a child’s interest in tales of rebellion and an easygoing world in which the main characters have all the abilities and resources of adults but must follow none of the silly rules. That Alice personifies various attributes of all four of Grahame’s main characters is further proof that these beloved classics are so highly regarded for their appeal to children’s’ love of subversion and that they fall under Lurie’s description of the wonderful and enrapturing books of her childhood.
Alice’s Existential Adventures in Wonderland
Jennifer Geer’s article “`All sorts of pitfalls and surprises’: Competing Views of Idealized Girlhood in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books,” discusses at length the implications of Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, on the development of the child. Through this article Geer stresses that Victorian fairy tales, and specifically Alice’s nonsensical journey through wonderland “foster the happy, loving childhood that will enable her development into a good woman and mother”(2). Though it is beyond a doubt, true, that Alice is a children’s story, the article also explains that in terms of Alice’s adult readers, the novel simply shares “innocent amusement”(2). A close reading of Alice, however, shows that the novel is much more than a simple children’s story; it can appeal to an adult audience as well. Alice’s continued futile attempts to find meaning in wonderland’s meaningless world, her eventual encounter with the nothingness that wonderland is, and her final realization of her freedom at its conclusion mark Alice as a true existential hero and proves that Alice can be read by adults as an existential novel, one which provides a drastically different interpretation than simply an appreciation of the development of a child.Throughout the course of Alice, several instances and situations she comes across during her journey illustrate her continued and failed attempts to force meaning on the absurd world of wonderland. From the instant she falls into the rabbit hole, which marks the beginning of her journey, Alice immediately begins to try to use reason to understand and give meaning to her long fall. For example, Alice begins by stating to herself, ““I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time? [ . . . ] I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down [ . . . ] but then I wonder what latitude of longitude I’ve got to?””(20). This statement marks Alice’s initial attempt to make sense of her fall, even though she is endlessly falling into a rabbit hole—something that obviously does not make any sense to begin with. As Gordon E. Bigelow states in his article, “A Primer of Existentialism,” “Reason is impotent to deal with the depths of human life,”(172), and Alice’s use of reason, namely her attempt to use latitude and longitude to “measure” her fall, prove her failure to recognize this fact as she falls (quite literally) further and further into the depths of wonderland. This failure of reasoning only marks the beginning of Alice’s attempts to impose meaning and rationality on wonderland and is also a main characteristic in marking her as an existential hero.As Alice finally finishes her descent into wonderland and continues on her journey, she makes her initial recognition that wonderland is, indeed, much different from her “above-ground” world, but Carroll’s juxtaposition of this recognition with Alice’s application of above-ground rules and logic to a world that clearly does not have any also helps in demonstrating Alice’s continued existential journey. For example, after Alice comes across the “eat me” and “drink me” food and realizes that she can use it to alter her size, which obviously is a situation she has never encountered above wonderland, she voices her recognition of this confusing world as the narrator states, “She had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way,” and also through her statement, “ “Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! [ . . . ] if I’m not the same, the next question is, “Who in the world am I?”(28). These lines show that Alice has realized that wonderland is not the same as life above ground, yet she still tries to apply her above world logic anyway—something that simply cannot work in an existential novel.Another example of this mistake occurs when Alice begins to get a glimpse of the “reality” of wonderland’s world of illogic and lack of meaning, but immediately reverts to using the meanings that she does know, saying, “ “I’ll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen [ . . . ] Paris is the capital of Rome [ . . . ] no, that’s all wrong, I’m certain!””(28). The fact that Alice cannot even recite true facts illustrates the uselessness of above ground “truth” in wonderland, and the fact that her recitation of “meaningful” facts do nothing to help her allude to the fact that Alice is indeed battling against a world that in itself is meaningless. Though these instances are, as Greer contests in her article, amusing, and can simultaneously provide adult readers with a shared innocence and laughter at Alice’s child-like reactions to her experiences, at the same time, these innocent reactions are so prevalent throughout the novel that they can and must be interpreted as something more, specifically as the continuous construction of Alice as an existential hero through her inability to recognize her own reality and the meaninglessness of wonderland, and her continued attempt to battle through its absurd world.Another aspect of wonderland that Alice is unable to find meaning in is the actual words spoken by the inhabitants, as Alice attempts to interpret them by her above ground understanding. This lack of understanding of the inhabitants of wonderland also show Alice’s isolation from them, which is, according to Bigelow, another major characteristic of an existential hero—alienation from the world and also those in it. For example, after Alice and a variety of woodland animals get soaked by her tears, a mouse apparently discovers an ingenious way to get dry, shouting, “I’ll make you dry enough!”(34), and immediately begins to quote a story out of a history textbook, which he believes is the driest thing he knows. Alice, obviously confused by the mouse’s different interpretation of the word “dry” states, “but it doesn’t seem dry to me at all!”(34). Through this situation, Alice demonstrates her inability to understand the lexical ambiguity in the word “dry,” and attempts to understand the word the only way she knows how to. This failed interpretation of meaning not only shows the meaninglessness of Alice’s preconceived logic, but it also frustrates and angers the mouse, and thus highlights Alice’s alienation from those around her.Another example of Alice’s failure to correctly understand the vocabulary used in wonderland occurs when the mouse says to her, ““Mine is a long and sad tale””(37). Alice replies, “It is a long tail, certainly [looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail] “but why do you call it long?””(37). It is at this point where the Mouse becomes infuriated with Alice’s misunderstanding, and claims that she “insults him for talking such nonsense”(38). Though Alice claims she did not mean it, she is once again isolated from a character in wonderland, and simultaneously a victim of her inability to apply her above ground meanings to wonderland—she can’t even understand the language that she thinks she knows, which only leads to further confusion and isolation.Another major part of Alice that characterizes it as an existential novel is the variety of chaotic and absurd behaviors that the creatures of wonderland demonstrate, and Alice’s judgment of these creatures and their actions on a rational objective basis, rather than through simply accepting wonderland’s absurdity. For example, as Alice is having a conversation with the Frog-Footman, out of nowhere, a large plate comes hurtling through the air, barely missing his head. However, due to the irrationality that characterizes wonderland, the Frog-Footman is obviously accustomed to the insane happenings, and he continues speaking “exactly as if nothing had happened”(60). Alice, on the other hand, becomes increasingly frustrated by the Frog-Footman’s ridiculous actions and words and instead tries to force some kind of rational order onto the crazy happenings by dismissing the Frog not as a creature whose actions fit his world, but as “perfectly idiotic”(60).Alice’s inability to recognize the absurd world she is now a part of and futilely apply her rational logic to it also is demonstrated in the same scene when Alice comes across the Duchess who is singing, “Speak roughly to your little boy, and beat him when he sneezes: he only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases”(62). Then, as the Duchess throws the child to Alice, it morphs into a pig. But Alice, still bound by her rational thought, “felt it would be quite absurd for her to carry [the pig] any further”(64). Later on, Alice also tries to find meaning in the Duchess’s absurd actions stating, “Maybe it’s the pepper that makes people hot tempered”(80). This line continues to show Alice’s inability to accept the irrationality in wonderland and her attempt to mind meaning in it, and also sparks anger in the Duchess, who is yet another character Alice becomes isolated from as well.Alice’s encounter with the Cheshire Cat provides readers with a vocalized statement of the reality of wonderland, and yet still, Alice refuses to see and accept it and continues to search for meaning anyway. For example, Alice states to the Cheshire Cat, “I don’t want to go among mad people,” and the Cat cunningly replies, “Oh, you can’t help that . . . we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad”(65). This quote from the Cheshire Cat is a blatant statement of what wonderland consists of and gives Alice a glimpse of the meaning that she had been attempting to seek in wonderland so far, yet she still cannot grasp it at this point. This inability to grasp the Cat’s meaning is also stated in the line following his insight as the narrator says, “Alice didn’t think that proved it at all: however she went on[ . . . ]”(65). This line refers to Alice’s continued effort to speak to the cat and find meaning in his words, but it can also be understood as a representation of Alice’s inability to recognize wonderland’s absurdity as vocalized by the cat and her continued effort to “go on” through wonderland on her quest for meaning. The conclusion of Alice, and especially her experience in the garden, highlight her eventual realization of its reality and the freedom she has to act, which is a necessary component in an existential work. For example, upon Alice’s arrival into the garden she is threatened by animate cards during her croquet game and says, “They’re only cards and I needn’t be afraid of them!”(79). This line demonstrates that Alice is becoming increasingly close of the freedom that she possesses in a land of meaninglessness, but the fact that Alice only mutters this revelation to herself also shows that she still has not yet grasped the implications of a realization like this—that she holds the ultimate freedom in wonderland and can, if she chooses to, wake up and instantly end its absurdity.As the novel continues, so does Alice’s knowledge of wonderland’s meaninglessness and the power that she holds over its inhabitants because of it. For instance, as the Queen shouts yet another meaningless threat of “Off with her head!” to Alice, she replies “ “Nonsense!” very loudly and decidedly””(82). After this surprising moment of defiance, the Queen remains uncharacteristically silent and must be comforted by the King who says, “Consider my dear, she is only a child”(82). However, just when it appears as if Alice is realizing that wonderland means nothing and she indeed has the power to be rude to the Queen, she once again illustrates her ultimate failure through the lines, “Alice began to feel uneasy[ . . .] “What would become of me?””(83). Once again, Alice becomes afraid of what will happen to her for being rude to the Queen—she can’t see that she is the person who holds the ultimate power. This statement of anxiety is also another major characteristic of existentialism. According to Bigelow’s article, each of us must make moral decisions in our own lives which involve the same anguish. [ . . . ] decisions have to be made in fear and trembling[ . . . ] sometimes one must make an exception to the general law because he is (existentially) an exception, a concrete being whose existence can never be completely subsumed under any universal (176).This line helps to demonstrate that Alice’s brief recognition but immediate reversion from it through her statement of her fear illustrates that she has not quite reached the point of her final realization of her freedom, but also shows that her anxiety is a natural part of the existential “process” that she has been going through that will eventually lead to her statement of her own freedom. Through the Knave of Hearts’s meaningless trial that marks the conclusion of the novel, Alice is finally able to have, in Bigelow’s words, “The encounter with nothingness,”(176), and directly following it, is also able to realize the freedom that she possesses—a final mark of an existential hero. Though the creatures of wonderland take the Knave of Hearts’s trial very seriously, it is obvious that the trial itself has no meaning because the world that it takes place in is devoid of meaning as well. At first, Alice is excited to take part in the trial–her lack of understanding at this point still leads her to believe that it is something of extreme importance. Alice also demonstrates her application of her above world meanings to the trial as she is “pleased to find she knew the name of nearly everything there”(103), and also takes her position very seriously when she learns she has to “testify.” However, through the course of the trial, Alice becomes increasingly aware of the meaninglessness in it, and in wonderland itself. Alice’s first step in her realization that the trial is meaningless occurs when the Gryphon says to Alice, “They’re putting down their names [ . . . ] for fear they should forget them before the end of the trial”(104). Alice immediately replies, “Stupid things!”(104), showing her recognition that the jurors are indeed absurd, and upon looking at the jurors’ notepads, she is confirmed as she notices not one of them can even spell correctly.This initial growth in knowledge also sparks Alice’s physical growth as well, and as the trial continues and Alice realizes the nonsense that she is being exposed to, both her intellectual and physical growth increase. For example, as Alice is testifying, the King and the White Rabbit quarrel about the correct term to write down, which, obviously, show the irrationality that encompasses the trial. At this moment, Alice notices that the jurymen are also all writing down different words. She then says to herself, “but it doesn’t matter a bit”(112). This line can be interpreted as Alice’s realization of the meaninglessness of the trial, but also, as her physical growth, paralleling her intellectual growth, is now “two miles high”(112), this line can also allude to the fact that Alice is on the verge of her “encounter with nothingness.”The culmination of Alice’s physical and intellectual growth through the trial and her final realization that wonderland has no meaning occurs when the members of the court are once again quarreling over nonsensical information and Alice says, “If any one of them can explain it,”(she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting the king), “I’ll give him sixpence. I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it”(114). This line of Alice’s realization of the meaningless truly marks her journey as existential. Throughout the course of the novel she had desperately tried to force meaning into a world of meaninglessness, and in the end, she finally reached an epiphany that she had not necessarily set out to look for. The King’s next line also verbalizes Alice’s failed mission thus far as he says, “If there’s no meaning in it, [ . . . ] that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any”(114). This line also serves in “summing up” Alice’s long journey to find meaning in a world without any, as well as her eventual “encounter with nothingness,” that leads to her final act of the novel—an act of freedom.Throughout the course of Alice, and consequently the course of this essay, the focus has largely been on Alice’s thought process and her constant attempts to put everything she came across in terms of an objective reality that she knew. However, her final act at the end of the novel proves the freedom that she possesses and also simultaneously serves in marking the end of Alice’s existential journey. As Alice continues to argue with the King and Queen during the trial, the Queen shouts (again), “Off with your head!”(116), only this time around, Alice screams back, “Who cares for you? (she had grown to full size by this time). “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!(116). At that instant, the cards appear to “explode” around her and Alice wakes up. This final defiant shout and act of waking up is Alice’s ultimate act of free will in a land of nothingness. According to Bigelow, “each man must accept individual responsibility for his own becoming,”(177), and by Alice’s choice to defy the nonsense that the characters and wonderland itself threw at her provide the major act that marks her as the novel’s existential hero. Bigelow also states, “A man is the sum total of the acts that make up his life—no more, no less—and though the coward has made himself cowardly, it is also possible for him to change and make himself heroic”(177), and by Alice making her final act to speak out against the absurdity and meaninglessness that wonderland was composed of, and wake up from her dream, she truly proved that she was the sum of her actions. She realized that wonderland had no meaning and consequently that she could not force rationality on it, and she recognized and acted on the free will that all existential heroes possess.Though Jennifer Geer is indisputably true in her conviction that children who read Alice can learn from her development and can become enriched in their own development from childhood to adolescence and on, at the same time, Alice’s continued quest to find meaning in wonderland, and the fact that she remained unaware of her futility until the very end also parallels Alice’s adult readers “above-ground.” Alice leaves wonderland taking no meaning from it, having only learned that the land itself had no meaning to begin with. The fact that the novel ends with Alice leaving for tea and “thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been”(117), puts an entertaining and childish spin on the fact that wonderland actually was not a “wonderful” dream at all, but in reality was a nightmare in which Alice could only escape by her realization that it was absurd and meaningless and through her ability to act on her free will and reject it. Alice was simply a girl, but the complex existential quest she was on, in the end, is really something only an experienced adult can relate to, even if the journey did indeed take place at the heart of a children’s novel. Works CitedBigelow, Gordon. “A Primer of Existentialism.” College English. December, 1961: 171- 178.Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Signet Classic, 2000.Geer, Jennifer, ““All sorts of pitfalls and surprises’: Competing Views of Idealized Girlhood in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books.” Children’s Literature. 31 (2003): 1-24. Project MUSE. 23 March 2008. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/childrensliterature/v031/31.1geer.html
A College Student’s Explication of “Jabberwocky”
At first glance, the poem Jabberwocky – as Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, transcribed in Alice in Wonderland – appears to be pure unintelligible gibberish, a madman’s ravings about some unfathomable and inexplicable beast. It rambles about “vorpal blades” and “slithy toves”, “frumious Bandersnatches” and things that go “snicker-snack”, and not once does it apologize for its fantastical nature. Indeed, a person reading this poem aloud would doubtless be considered unfit for normal, sane society. Yet there is something about the poem “Jabberwocky” that has sparked an infatuation with the nonsensical among the young and the old alike. And why not? Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were, after all, preordained as children’s books in the first place, so it should follow then that so too was the “Jabberwocky”.Perhaps even more so than the larger epic engulfing it, this nonsensical poem has seen its influence spread across nations and across centuries. Its absurd nature helped spawn The Beatles’ perennial classic “Yellow Submarine,” much as the Fab Four’s “I am the Walrus” was inspired by Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” J.K. Rowling paid homage to it in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with Professor Dumbledore’s opening speech: “Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” Carroll’s influence can even be felt often in President Bush’s speeches. But what, pray tell, is it about this specific poem, especially since there are tens of thousands of similar and, in the case of Edward Lear’s limericks, arguably better nonsense poems? Why has “Jabberwocky” persevered in the mythos of the fantastical for so long?It is for this question that three different perspectives present themselves: The “Jabberwocky” as written by a mathematician, as written by a logician, and as written by a writer.Carroll’s role as a prominent mathematician can be seen quite easily throughout the poem if, like so many other things that populate the world beneath the rabbit hole, one knows what to look for. This should come as little surprise; after all, the majority of Alice and Looking Glass reflect different mathematical shenanigans, most of which could only occur in Wonderland because of their inherent impossibilities. Nowhere in the real world could a scientist find himself dealing with a sudden inflation in size, let alone a subsequent and even more rapid descent to miniscule proportions. No one has ever found themselves confronted with an army of playing cards, and few have ever fallen down a rabbit hole the length and breadth of an underground skyscraper. And, with the exception of the recently discovered black hole phenomenon, there has never been an extra-spacial anything in which the interior of an object was larger than its exterior (Clevinger). Hopefully there haven’t been too many instances of talking rabbits. But in Wonderland, where reality and impossibility intermingle, these events can be narrated and explored in full – despite being narrated and explored by Alice, who can hardly be considered sufficiently mathematically-inclined to understand the logistical significance of the world around her. What then of the “Jabberwocky?” This is where Humpty Dumpty enters the picture. In the story, Alice comes upon this nursery rhyme entity and finds him to be quite pompous and arrogant, not even bothering to address her when speaking (at one point early on he speaks not to her, but to a tree). Then, after asking her age, the giant egg criticizes her for being seven years and six months, and not leaving off at seven years, humorously adding a dark undertone in suggesting that “With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.” Further down the way Alice, curious about Dumpty’s talent with word definitions, recites the first verse of the “Jabberwocky” poem: “‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: / All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.” Hearing this, Humpty Dumpty launched into a detailed analysis of the poem and the definitions of the nonsense words. For example, ‘slithy’ is “lithe and slimy.” Also, “. . . ‘mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ . . .” These words – which combine two distinct meanings into one compact package – are what Dumpty calls ‘portmanteaus’ (Carroll). This does not mean that the words are ambiguous, mind; ambiguity implies that two meanings exist, but only one is actually in use. A portmanteau, on the other hand, permits both definitions to coexist simultaneously and without conflict. This practice of streamlining words is not unique to Carroll’s visions; it has been used numerous other times, most prominently in James Joyce’s epic Finnegan’s Wake, which accommodates them by the tens of thousands, including ten hundred-letter thunderclaps. The great thing about portmanteaus is that even if a reader doesn’t have the slightest idea as to what is being said, a silent inkling of its emotional context is still available to grasp. This is how one can read through “Jabberwocky” and, without understanding a single nonsensical word, can still catch the drift of the story, perhaps even understand it all. But logically, this should not be; a person reading even the previously quoted first verse should have left shaking their heads in disbelief of the pure and utter idiocy presented to them. Yet despite all rationality, this does not happen. Somehow, the brain picks up on the inner meanings of these words, fits them into place (or rather, stretches the place to fit them in it), and ends up drawing remarkably accurate conclusions. These conclusions likely will not match up even remotely with the original author’s intent or lack thereof, but nonetheless the equation works. It is as though the details of the story are decided on by the reader’s own interpretations, but the overall story is defined by the author. The whole scenario can be likened to a “mad lib” gone horribly wrong: adjectives fit where adjectives should go, verbs where verbs should (despite being the proudest of the words, and quite temperamental), and for all intents and purposes the prose flows perfectly as proper English grammar dictates (or at least, insofar as the poetry itself will allow). Now, what does this have to do with mathematics, which has earlier been promised to somehow be linked to the topic? To answer this, a simple – yet hardly so – algebraic formula may be utilized: Two plus two equals five. This equation, a long-time favorite of freethinkers and scientists alike, essentially states that two products combined together may give rise to side effects that transforms the whole into more, or at least different, than the sum of its individual components . . . synergy takes place (Byrne). Just as two medicines combined may produce a third, unintended result, so too can words be paired to create a new, seemingly unrelated word with the added benefit of achieving a subliminal sympathy that tells the reader that, “No, you don’t know what I mean, but you do know where I aim.” Thus, the use of portmanteaus is not only in some specialized elements a substantially more efficient means of writing, it is also theoretically capable of achieving an as-yet inexperienced plane of reader-writer interaction that permits an infinite number of stories to arise from a single source. From the mathematical perspective, then, the ‘X’ variable is found within the individual mind and not in the hard ink and paper, just as many artists feel it should be. With that said, let the page now turn to the logician’s perspective. This view can be derived mainly from what seems to be an innocent exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty:”When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.””The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.””The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”What the giant egg is asking, then, is whether or not we are bound to the preexisting rules of grammar and vocabulary, and if so, what is the justification for constraining oneself to them? Dodgson himself answered these questions at length in Symbolic Logic. In opposition to the views of the group he dubbed “The Logicians,” he argued that the words in language do not actually carry a sovereignty that demands that they are the correct words as determined by some greater Entity. Instead of accepting this Grecian logic, Carroll states that, “If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, “Let it be understood that by the word ‘black’ I shall always mean ‘white’, and that by the word ‘white’ I shall always mean ‘black’,” I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.” This acceptance of words as arbitrary things, despite being arguably more correct, failed to win out in the end, but it does not deflect Carroll’s aim. The idea that a person may use a word in ways not formerly implemented is a fantastical idea, for sure, but it also opens many doors – several of which Humpty Dumpty ventures through in his dissection of “Jabberwocky.” In this poem, it is clearly not the words that are the master. This is why the diction is nigh impossible to comprehend; the same can be said for Humpty Dumpty’s speech, which rather abuses this privilege. In his article “The Philosopher’s Alice in Wonderland,” Roger W. Holmes sums up the argument nicely and succinctly: “May we . . . make our words mean whatever we choose them to mean? Do we have an obligation to past usage? In one sense words are our masters, or communication would be impossible. In another we are the masters; otherwise there could be no poetry” (Carroll). At last, the final means of relating “Jabberwocky”: from the literary perspective, with specific regards to the meaning (not, mind, the definitions) of the nonsense words used. This is similar to the logician’s perspective in that it covers the justification behind nonsensicality, but it differs in one obvious area: Whereas the earlier argument asks how old words can be used in new ways, this asks how new, invented words can be used in old ways. Obviously, words like ‘brillig’ and phrases like ‘Callooh! Calleh!’ never appeared in a dictionary (although if they did, I should like to see that dictionary for further review), so they have no basis for being rationally defined except through the use of context – which is itself as thoroughly impossible to define as the rest. Then – then look at Humpty Dumpty’s definitions. These are words had to be invented because they simply do not exist. There are no words for four o’ clock in the afternoon, so ‘brillig’ had to be made. No beast such as the Jabberwock had ever been found before the poem was written, thus the necessity for the obtuse term (On a side note, after closer inspection it has been found that ‘gyre’ is in fact a word, and its meaning is the same in the real world as it is in Alice’s Wonderland). In his autobiography On Writing, prolific author Stephen King says, “The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning. Given that, why in God’s name would you want to make things worse by choosing a word which is only cousin to the one you really wanted to use?” To use another quote, did the Bard himself commented on this subject when, in Romeo and Juliet, he quipped, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Granted, at the time Shakespeare was referencing it as a side-swipe at the Globe Theatre’s rival, the Rose Theatre (Phrase Finder) . . . but it still certainly applies here. Now apply this to “Jabberwocky.” If the bird Carroll saw was a Jubjub bird, how could he then justify calling it by another other name, even for the sake of making more sense? If he’d called it a gryphon or such, there would be none of this arbitrary confusion. Calling the vicious Jabberwock a dragon would paint a suitably vivid beast into the mind of the reader – but that is an escape for less confident writers. It would have been an outright lie to substitute these obscure words with something more palatable, and despite his constant stream of riddles and trickery, Carroll saw no need to cloud the skies further by telling the wrong story. To do so would have been even more unfair to the readers than it would be to use impossible wording. Finally, having said all of that, and having run out of the typewriter’s equivalent to breath, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that, like so many of the riddles in Carroll’s world, not a word of this is necessarily what Dodgson had in mind as he wrote his nonsense poetry. After all, the man had a mind like that of a child, and there are several other, much more likely reasons for him to write “Jabberwocky” than to oppose the then-modern rules of diction. Thusly, this is not a paper aiming to show what he meant in writing; it is merely trying to open the reader’s mind to more interpretations of a poem which is certainly no stranger to being interpreted. And in the end, is that not what nonsense poetry is all about? Interpretation?Works CitedByrne, David. Personal interview. 28 April 2004.Carroll, Lewis. “The Annotated Alice.” Bramhall House. New York. P. 261 – 276.Clevinger, Brian. “8-bit Theatre.” Comic strip.