First Thought? Of Course I Ought! (Ch.1 part 1)

Summary: What quirky images/ thoughts pop up in my head as I dive into each chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? With that in mind, lets begin with Chapter 1.

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“Down the Rabbit-Hole” is the title of Chapter one in The Annotated Alice,  introduction and notes by Martin Gardner and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

My first thoughts?

From my past knowledge of the Walt Disney version I suspect Alice will find a White Rabbit and follow him “down the Rabbit-Hole”.  Kudos for Disney!

Sure enough, Alice discovered a White Rabbit, only it is peculiar that her curiosity is not sparked until the White Rabbit takes out a watch. She believes a Rabbit who speaks out loud is quite natural; perhaps this is because she is a child. I have also noticed Carroll’s use of very in what is processing through Alice’s mind. Of course, we must take in to consideration this is a child’s mind and generally children exaggerate the simplest of matters, yet could Carroll be using this word in italics to emphasize this? The use of very and other words in italics could very well be similar to the emphasis William Golding places on symbolism in his book Lord of the Flies.

As Mr. Long would say, I will chase this rabbit and see where it leads me and I will keep everyone updated on my findings.

I will touch more about this issue in my next blogs yet I cannot help but mention the quite frequent death references. It’s only the first chapter!

For example, Alice is falling down the Rabbit Hole and is afraid of letting go of a jar for “fear of killing somebody underneath” (pg.13). If I was falling down a hole the first thought that would come to my mind would not be to think of what might happen to the creatures below me. I would probably be wondering if I myself was going to die. Many children’s stories are based off of the dead or fear of dying: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood. I am not surprised that death is mentioned, the frequency is what I find peculiar.

The appearances of repetition are also frequent in this chapter. Carroll is creating a mood and creating tension for the reader by repeating “Down” and “thump!”. The dark references play a factor into whether or not Carroll is symbolizing evil or bad, or if Carroll is just stating the hole was too dark to see anything. This could also tie into the death references and/or the drug references. Could Alice be dreaming or could this be a hallucination or perhaps a concussion?

I will leave on this note: anyone can enjoy Alice in Wonderland without analyzing any part of the text. Carroll, after all, did write this for a little girl to enjoy, not the entire world to analyze and critique. Although analyzing to the point where only the owner of the book can read the comments and shorthand notes in the margins is always interesting and, I believe, a fun way to get a full understanding of a text.

Stay alert for Part 2 of “First thought? Of course I ought!” (Chapter 1)

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“Let us once more adventure, hand in hand: Give me belief again—in Wonderland!” –Vincent Starrett, in Brillig (Chicago: Dierkes Press, 1949)
This image can be found here.

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1 Comment

  1. If you think about when a child is old enough to ‘grasp’ the deeper implications of ‘death’ as a concept and as simple ‘loss’ of a person, it is a tricky bridge to cross. Kids’ sense of time and permanence is an evolving construct, thus story-tellers need to figure out a way to imply what may be impossible for an ‘immature’ mind to grasp, while also assuming that kids do think about ‘death’ and such.

    Like what you said here:

    “Many children’s stories are based off of the dead or fear of dying: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood. I am not surprised that death is mentioned, the frequency is what I find peculiar.”

    Well done!


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