Dig Deeper?

Upon reading the third chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I once again find myself circling around the fact that this is a children’s book. Glimpses of deeper meaning present itself after the second read through, but first impression wise, I merely see an enjoyable tale written for the entertainment of children and adults alike. The amount of time Carroll spent writing Alice’s adventures was not long, and it seems safe to assume his first priority was to create a story any child would enjoy. The Lory who claims to be older than Alice, and must therefore “know better” would be a figure most children can relate to. A parent or perhaps a sibling may say something to that similar effect. The mention of prizes, also seem to show Carrol’s understanding of kids. For kids the idea of a prize is like an irresistible shiny object to play with.

However even with the interest of the children taking first priority, we must not forget the nature of the author. Carroll was a mathematician who loved to create puzzles for the mind. His writing seem to provoke thought, allowing any person to notice a few coincidences. It may be that Carroll could not completely cut off his own voice and instead hid it in the double meanings of his words. There are times when speculation seems apparent, and times when all the events seem random. This may have been intentional, a simple puzzling tale given to deeper thought, if pursued.

The reader perceives each story in their own way, in a sense it is the reader’s story as well. By creating something that connects to every level of intelligence, Carroll satisfies a wide range of audiences. From young children, to teens, to adults. He balances his own love of questioning with just the right amount of nonsense, leaving one curious for more. In the end it is up to you, as to how you would like to interpret Alice’s Adcentures in Wonderland.

Deeper into the Anomaly

As Alice traverses further into wonderland, she becomes immersed in the oddity of its ways. It seems on an unconscious level, Alice is already disconnecting to the reality of her other world. It is not to say what Alice is experiencing currently is not real, for what boundaries do we have to compare ‘reality’ to? In this sense, the identity of Alice is being examined through her words: ‘Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” Alice already determines she is not Ada, but still questions whether or not she could be Mabel. If Alice is not Ada, but Mabel, then where was ‘Alice’ to begin with in the first place? The defining lines of Alice’s reality are slowly blending into the place before her.

It may also be that Alice is free to take on the identity of anyone in this new land. Alice exclaims, “If I like being that person, I’ll come up: if not, I’ll stay down here till I’m somebody else’.” As Alice unconsciously puts on the Rabbit’s white gloves, she claims a narrow escape from shrinking away altogether. At this point the disappearance of her own identity seems challenged, relating once more, to her gradual shift in becoming an integral part of her surroundings.

From another point of view, there are a number of curiously ironic connections to the world before the rabbit hole. The mouse Alice finds swimming along in her pool of tears, can speak French! How amusing to find that in a foreign place, there is a familiarity in language and communication. Even more peculiar is the fact that there are cats, dogs, and mice in this new dimension. If the existence of familiarized animals is present, then there may not be a complete separation between the two worlds. Perhaps Alice had stumbled upon an alternate reality similarly connected to the one she had known. Could the world Alice had left be connected to the one she currently resides in? Or are they just two separate dimensions from which the only link is the rabbit hole?

The Pecularity of Thought

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland highlight the mind of a child infused with quaint tales to capture the imagination. For children these trips provide the perfect vessel to fully explore the realm of childhood creativity, but beyond the simple bedtime story, the musings of a mathematician reveals its play with logic.

Charles Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carroll, infuses the tale of Alice with two parts of his voice.

First and foremost the story was written for the enjoyment of children, more specifically a little girl named Alice Liddell. Carroll understands the mindset of young children, shown through the tendency of Alice to pretend to be two people. Carroll also fulfills the wishes of children by including a factor of whimsical nonsense. The wordplay used, such as “Do cats eat bats? Do bats eat cats?”,  is by nature fun to reiterate. Moreover, the overall story was not written to address a specific moral rule, so commonly found in young literature. From one aspect, Carroll’s work can be purely enjoyed as it is written, with no deeper thought other than its entertainment.

The other voice of Lewis Carroll is brought forth by the implications of more complex thought, and the mathematical aspect of Lewis’ personality. Within this land of speculation, one can find many unconventional questions of logic. Might the inclination of Alice to follow the instructions labeled “Drink Me” imply something more?

Alice checks to see if there is a label marked poison, and when there is not, she drinks the contents of the bottle not truly understanding its contents. As humans we believe we understand the world around us, but how much are we like Alice? Carroll once again plays with parameters of logic when he portrays the scene with Alice eating the cake. He skews the understanding of normal verses abnormal, by allowing a normal slice of cake to be nothing out of the ordinary. Up to this point Alice has been wondering “Which way? Which way?” will she shrink, but to her dismay magic does not run its course.

Life once again regains its mostly common ways, with a quirk or two hidden in its paths.

  • Welcome to the “Alice Project”

    What happens when a group of insightful 10th grade students explore Alice's journey into Wonderland?