Social Challenges in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Carroll Essay
Updated: Jan 29th, 2021
Charles Dodgson, better known under his pen-name Lewis Carroll, created one of the most amazing and incredible stories and called it Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. On the one hand, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland introduces the world of puzzles and mysteries, which seem to be unclear and unreasonable for everyone except the inhabitants of Wonderland. On the other hand, it feels like each piece of the work has its purpose and peculiarity. The point is that puzzles and nonsense should not confuse but inspire people. It is wrong to accept something unclear or unusual as something bad or inappropriate, and this is one of the messages of the story. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, all puzzles and cases of nonsense created by the society Alice has to live in turn out to be crucial lessons that may enrich a human soul, improve a human body, and change a human life according to the expectations soaring in the air.
From the very first lines of the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the meeting with a White Rabbit, who was in a hurry and constantly taking his watch out of his waistcoat-pocket, proves that a number of interesting and strange things are waiting for the reader. It is the first puzzle to be gathered, the first answer to be given, and the first challenge to be overcome. What should it mean for Alice to meet a talking dressed rabbit? Is it a kind of new knowledge that should be grasped or a new task that should be complete? Lane offers to accept all cases all nonsense as “a vital solution to the deep contradiction between an acceptance of madness and the exercise of reason” (1030). The introduction of a nonsensical puzzle is an ability to find out the truth in a unique way. The rabbit is the sign that Alice’s normal life has to come to its end, and ordinary things may be changed and improved by certain complications. One of the first tasks for Alice is to comprehend who she is and her place in this world. “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle” (Carroll 72). She is bothered by this question, and to answer it, she has to face a new puzzle.
Carroll’s obsession with puzzles is observed during all his life. He believes that “puzzles provide a useful way for thinking about the two sides” (Reynolds para.5). In the story, the main character has to change her size constantly, talk to strange people, answer stupid questions, and be ready to respond to personal madness. “How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another” (Carroll 100). All these actions seem to be irrational. With time, everything gets its sense. The outcomes of what has been done cannot be neglected. A person should be ready to take responsibility for all words told and all actions made. It is one of the main lessons of the novel. Alice’s story is a good chance to “not just understand the main points made by each collection of reviews, but also understand those points well enough to draw a significant comparison between them” (Rotunno 90). In other words, to make the best of this life, people have to be very attentive and try to watch between the lines to get to the essence.
Unfortunately, it is not an easy task to get to the essence of something. Alice’s story is a combination of mistakes and frustrations that bother the main character a lot. It teaches that no matter how many attempts are made to find out a clear solution, frustrations may come. Throesch explains the presence of such frustrations by means of the “nonsense logic of the inhabitants” (50) in the novel. The use of logic cannot make the story interesting for readers of different ages, and if logic is accompanied by jokes, riddles, and nonsensical puzzles, the worth of the story may be considerably improved. “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then” (Carroll 141). This phrase shows that even simple things like the desire to go back to yesterday may be interpreted in a variety of ways. Alice cannot go back to the past, not because it is impossible, but because she was another that day, and it is the main challenge for her. “Alice has a choice between two visions of nature – nature as a forum for physical, moral and religious progression towards perfection, or nature as a violent, chaotic struggle for life in the face of extinction” (Murphy 14). The peculiar feature of the novel is that the reader, as well as the main character, is able to make a choice and decide what kind of world is more preferable. The puzzles perform the role of an attendant means helps to choose the position and stick to it.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland may seem a very complicated story with a number of riddles, unclear dialogues, and strange characters. It contains interesting lessons, explanations, and ideas on how to survive in a world with its own expectations. The decisions that Alice should make and the puzzles that Alice tries to gather provoke her to become elder and move from one phase of her life to another. “Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense” (Carroll 143). This is what attracts Alice – her readiness to solve problems, her fearlessness in front of the unknown, and her desire to know more even if it does not make sense. It is not an easy task, and Carroll offers a unique new way. Even if life seems to be a meaningless puzzle, people should not despair but try to figure out what this life is all about and whether it costs human attempts and efforts.
- Nonsense and puzzles of Alice’s story represent an ability to find out the truth in its unique way and take a lesson that is crucial for life. (“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” (Carroll 72).)
- A puzzle is a reason to think about different aspects of the same thing and pay attention to the details around. (“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.” (Carroll 100). )
- Alice’s story proves that people have choices and can use personal opinions to decide what to do and how to think. (“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” (Carroll 141).)
- A person should never be afraid to make his/her own conclusions and efforts to prove the personal point of view. (“Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense.” (Carroll 143). )
Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Buffalo, NY: Broadview Press, 2011. Print.
Lane, Christopher. “Lewis Carroll and Psychoanalysis: Why Nothing Adds Up in Wonderland.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 92.4 (2011): 1029-1045. Print.
Murphy, Ruth. “Darwin and 1860s Children’s Literature: Belief, Myth or Detritus.” Journal of Literature and Science 5.2. (2012): 5-21. Print.
Reynolds, Kimberley. “Understanding Alice.” British Library. n.d. Web.
Rotunno, Laura. “Novel Expectations to Novel Evaluations.” Academic Exchange Quarterly 9.1 (2007): 89-92. Print.
Throesch, Elizabeth. “Nonsense in the Fourth Dimension of Literature: Hyperspace Philosophy, the ‘New’ Mathematics, and the Alice Books.” Alice Beyond Wonderland: Essays for the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Cristopher Hollingswort. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2009. 37-52. Print.
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