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Context

Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, who lived from 1832 to 1898. Carrolls physical deformities, partial deafness, and irrepressible stammer made him an unlikely candidate for producing one of the most popular and enduring childrens fantasies in the English language. Carrolls unusual appearance caused him to behave awkwardly around other adults, and his students at Oxford saw him as a stuffy and boring teacher. He held strict religious beliefs, serving as a deacon in the Anglican Church for many years and briefly considering becoming a minister. Underneath Carrolls awkward exterior, however, lay a brilliant and imaginative artist. A gifted amateur photographer, he took numerous portraits of children throughout his adulthood. Carr olls keen grasp of mathematics and logic inspired the linguistic humor and witty wordplay in his stories. Additionally, his unique understanding of childrens minds allowed him to compose imaginative fiction that appealed to young people. Carroll felt shy and reserved around adults but became animated and lively around children. His crippling stammer melted away in the company of children as he told them his elaborately nonsensical stories. Carroll discovered his gift for storytelling in his own youth when he served as the unofficial family entertainer for his five younger sisters and three younger brothers. He staged performances and wrote the bulk of the fiction in the family magazine. As an adult, Carroll continued to prefer the companionship of children to adults and tended to favor little girls. Over the course of his lifetime he made numerous child friends whom he wrote to frequently and often mentioned in his diaries. In 1856, Carroll became close with the Liddell children and met the girl who would become the inspiration for Alice, the protagonist of his two most famous books. It was in that year that classics scholar Henry George Liddell accepted an appointment as Dean of Christ Church, one of the colleges that comprise Oxford University, and brought his three daughters to live with him at Oxford. Lorina, Alice, and Edith Liddell quickly became Carrolls favorite companions and photographic subjects. During their frequent afternoon boat trips on the river, Carroll told the Liddells fanciful tales. Ali ce quickly became Carrolls favorite of the three girls, and he made her the subject of the stories that would later became Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Almost ten years after first meeting the Liddells, Carroll compiled the stories and submitted the completed manuscript for publication. Alices Adventures in Wonderland received mostly negative reviews when first published in 1865. Critics and readers alike found the book to be sheer nonsense, and one critic sneered that t he book was too extravagantly absurd to produce more diversion than disappointment and irritation. Only John Tenniels detailed illustrations garnered praise, and his images continue to appear in most reprints of the Alice books. Despite the books negative reception, Carroll proposed a sequel to his publisher in 1866 and set to work writing Through the Looking-Glass. By the time the second book reached publication in 1871, Alices Adventures in Wonderland had found an appreciative readership. Over time, Carrolls combination of sophisticated logic, social satire, and pure fantasy would make the book a classic for children and adults alike. Critics eventually recognized the literary merits of both texts, and celebrated authors and philosophers ranging from James Joyce to Ludwig Wittgenstein praised Carrolls stories. In 1881, Carroll resigned from his position as mathematics lecturer at Oxford to pursue writing full time. He composed numerous poems, several new works for children, and books of logic puzzles and games, but none of his later writings attained the success of the Alice books. Carroll continued to have close friendships with children. Several of his child friends served as inspiration for the Sylvie and Bruno books. Like the Alice stories, Sylvie and Bruno (1889) and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1898) relied heavily on childrens silly sayings and absurd fantasies. Carroll died in 1898 at the age of sixty -six, soon after the publication of the Sylvie and Bruno books. He passed away in his familys home in Guildford, England. Carrolls sudden break with the Liddell family in the early 1860s has led to a great deal of speculation over the nature of his relationship with Alice Liddell. Some books indicate that the split resulted from a disagreement between Carroll and Dean Liddell over Christ Church matters. Other evidence indicates that more insidious elements existed in Carrolls relationships with young children and with Alice Liddell in

particular. This possibility seems to be supported by the fact that Mrs. Liddell burned all of Carrolls early letters to Alice and that Carroll himself tore pages out of his diary related to the break. However, no concrete evidence exists that Carroll behaved inappropriately in his numerous friendships with children. Records written by Carrolls associates and Alice Liddell herself do not indicate any untoward behavior on his part. Carrolls feelings of intense nostalgia for the simple pleasures of childhood caused him to feel deep discomfort in the presence of adults. In the company of children, Carroll felt understood and could temporarily forget the loss of innocence that he associated with his own adulthood. Ironically, Carroll mourned this loss again and again as he watched each of his child friends grow away from him as they became older. As he wrote in a letter to the mother of one of his young muses, It is very sweet to me, to be loved by her as children love: though the experience of many years have now taught me that there are few things in the world so evanescent [fleeting] as a childs love. Nine-tenths of the children, whose love once seemed as warm as hers, are now merely on the terms of everyday acquaintance. The sentiment of fleeting happiness pervades Carrolls seemingly lighthearted fantasies and infu ses the Alice books with melancholy and loss.

Plot Overview
Alice sits on a riverbank on a warm summer day, drowsily reading over her sisters shoulder, when she catches sight of a White Rabbit in a waistcoat running by her. The White Rabbit pulls out a pocket watch, exclaims that he is late, and pops down a rabbit hole. Alice follows the White Rabbit down the hole and comes upon a great hallway lined with doors. She finds a small door that she opens using a key she discovers on a nearby table. Through the door, she sees a beautiful garden, and Alice begins to cry when she realizes she cannot fit through the door. She finds a bottle marked DRINK ME and downs the contents. She shrinks down to the right size to enter the door but cannot enter since she has left the key on the tabletop above her head. Alice discovers a cake marked EAT ME which causes her to grow to an inordinately large height. Still unable to enter the garden, Alice begins to cry again, and her giant tears form a pool at her feet. As she cries, Alice shrinks and falls into the pool of tears. The pool of tears becomes a sea, and as she treads water she meets a Mouse. The Mouse accompanies Alice to shore, where a number of animals stand gathered on a bank. After a Caucus Race, Alice scares t he animals away with tales of her cat, Dinah, and finds herself alone again. Alice meets the White Rabbit again, who mistakes her for a servant and sends her off to fetch his things. While in the White Rabbits house, Alice drinks an unmarked bottle of liquid and grows to the size of the room. The White Rabbit returns to his house, fuming at the now-giant Alice, but she swats him and his servants away with her giant hand. The animals outside try to get her out of the house by throwing rocks at her, which inexplicably transform into cakes when they land in the house. Alice eats one of the cakes, which causes her to shrink to a small size. She wanders off into the forest, where she meets a Caterpillar sitting on a mushroom and smoking a hookah (i.e., a water pipe). The Caterpillar and Alice get into an argument, but before the Caterpillar crawls away in disgust, he tells Alice that different parts of the mushroom will make her grow or shrink. Alice tastes a part of the mushroom, and her neck stretches above the trees. A pigeon sees her and attacks, deeming her a serpent hungry for pigeon eggs. Alice eats another part of the mushroom and shrinks down to a normal height. She wanders until she comes across the house of the Duchess. She enters and finds the Duchess, who is nursing a squealing baby, as well as a grinning Cheshire Cat, and a Cook who tosses massive amounts of pepper into a cauldron of soup. The Duchess behaves rudely to Alice and then departs to prepare for a croquet game with the Queen. As she leaves, the Duchess hands Alice the baby, which Alice discovers is a pig. Alice lets the pig go and reenters the forest, where she meets the Cheshire Cat again. The Cheshire Cat explains to Alice that everyone in Wonderland is mad, including Alice herself. The Cheshire Cat gives directions to the March Hares house and fades away to nothing but a floating grin.

Alice travels to the March Hares house to find the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse having tea together. Treated rudely by all three, Alice stands by the tea party, uninvited. She learns that they have wronged Time and are trapped in perpetual tea-time. After a final discourtesy, Alice leaves and journeys through the forest. She finds a tree with a door in its side, and travels through it to find herself back in the great hall. She takes the key and uses the mushroom to shrink down and enter the garden. After saving several gardeners from the temper of the Queen of Hearts, Alice joins the Queen in a strange game of croquet. The croquet ground is hilly, the mallets and balls are live flamingos and hedgehogs, and the Queen tears about, frantically calling for the other players executions. Amidst this madness, Alice bumps into the Cheshire Cat again, who asks her how she is doing. The King of Hearts interrupts their conversation and attempts to bully the Cheshire Cat, who impudently dismisses the King. The King takes offense and arranges for the Cheshire Cats execution, but since the Cheshire Cat is now only a head floating in midair, no one can agree on how to behead it. The Duchess approaches Alice and attempts to befriend her, but the Duchess makes Alice feel uneasy. The Queen of Hearts chases the Duchess off and tells Alice that she must visit the Mock Turtle to hear his story. The Queen of Hearts sends Alice with the Gryphon as her escort to meet the Mock Turtle. Alice shares her strange experiences with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, who listen sympathetically and comment on the strangeness of her adventures. After listening to the Mock Tur tles story, they hear an announcement that a trial is about to begin, and the Gryphon brings Alice back to the croquet ground. The Knave of Hearts stands trial for stealing the Queens tarts. The King of Hearts leads the proceedings, and various witnesses approach the stand to give evidence. The Mad Hatter and the Cook both give their testimony, but none of it makes any sense. The White Rabbit, acting as a herald, calls Alice to the witness stand. The King goes nowhere with his line of questioning, but takes encouragement when the White Rabbit provides new evidence in the form of a letter written by the Knave. The letter turns out to be a poem, which the King interprets as an admission of guilt on the part of the Knave. Alice believes the note to be nonsense and protests the Kings interpretation. The Queen becomes furious with Alice and orders her beheading, but Alice grows to a huge size and knocks over the Queens army of playing cards. All of a sudden, Alice finds herself awake on her sisters lap, back at the riverbank. She tells her sister about her dream and goes inside for tea as her sister ponders Alices adventures.

Character List
Alice - The seven-year-old protagonist of the story. Alice believes that the world is orderly and stable, and she has an insatiable curiosity about her surroundings. Wonderland challenges and frustrates her perceptions of the world. Read an in-depth analysis of Alice. The White Rabbit - The frantic, harried Wonderland creature that originally leads Alice to Wonderland. The White Rabbit is figure of some importance, but he is manic, timid, and occasionally aggressive. The Queen of Hearts - The ruler of Wonderland. The Queen is severe and domineering, continually screaming for her subjects to be beheaded. Read an in-depth analysis of The Queen of Hearts. The King of Hearts - The coruler of Wonderland. The King is ineffectual and generally unlikeable, but lacks the Queens ruthlessness and undoes her orders of execution. The Cheshire Cat - A perpetually grinning cat who appears and disappears at will. The Cheshire Cat displays a detached, clearheaded logic and explains Wonderlands madness to Alice. Read an in-depth analysis of The Cheshire Cat. The Duchess - The Queens uncommonly ugly cousin. The Duchess behaves rudely to Alice at first, but later treats her so affectionately that her advances feel threatening. The Caterpillar - A Wonderland creature. The Caterpillar sits on a mushroom, smokes a hookah, and treats Alice with contempt. He directs Alice to the magic mushroom that allows her to shrink and grow.

The Mad Hatter - A small, impolite hatter who lives in perpetual tea-time. The Mad Hatter enjoys frustrating Alice. The March Hare - The Mad Hatters tea-time companion. The March Hare takes great pleasure in frustrating Alice. The Dormouse - The Mad Hatter and March Hares companion. The Dormouse sits at the tea table and drifts in and out of sleep. The Gryphon - A servant to the Queen who befriends Alice. The Gryphon escorts Alice to see the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle - A turtle with the head of a calf. The Mock Turtle is friendly to Alice but is exceedingly sentimental and self-absorbed. Alices sister - The only character whom Alice interacts with outside of Wonderland. Alices sister daydreams about Alices adventures as the story closes. The Knave of Hearts - An attendant to the King and Queen. The Knave has been accused of stealing the Queens tarts. The Mouse - The first Wonderland creature that Alice encounters. The Mouse is initially frightened of Alice and her talk about her pet cat, and eventually tells the story of Fury and the Mouse that foreshadows the Knave of Hearts trial. The Dodo - A Wonderland creature. The Dodo tends to use big words, and others accuse him of not knowing their meanings. He proposes that the animals participate in a Caucus race. The Duck, the Lory, and the Eaglet - Wonderland creatures who participate in the Caucus race. The Cook - The Duchesss cook, who causes everyone to sneeze with the amount of pepper she uses in her cooking. The Cook is ill-tempered, throwing objects at the Duchess and refusing to give evidence at the trial. The Pigeon - A Wonderland creature who believes Alice is a serpent. The pigeon is sulky and angry and thinks Alice is after her eggs. Two, Five, and Seven - The playing-card gardeners. Two, Five, and Seven are fearful and fumbling, especially in the presence of the Queen. Bill - A lizard who first appears as a servant of the White Rabbit and later as a juror at the trial. Bill is stupid and ineffectual. The Frog-Footman - The Duchesss footman. The Frog-footman is stupid and accustomed to the fact that nothing makes sense in Wonderland.

Analysis of Major Characters


Alice Alice is a sensible prepubescent girl from a wealthy English family who finds herself in a strange world ruled by imagination and fantasy. Alice feels comfortable with her identity and has a strong sense that her environment is comprised of clear, logical, and consistent rules and features. Alices familiarity with the world has led one critic to describe her as a disembodied intellect. Alice displays great curiosity and attempts to fit her diverse experiences into a clear understanding of the world. Alice approaches Wonderland as an anthropologist, but maintains a strong sense of noblesse oblige that comes with her class status. She has confidence in her social position, education, and the Victorian virtue of good manners. Alice has a feeling of entitlement, particularly when comparing herself to Mabel, whom she declares has a poky little house, and no toys. Additionally, she flaunts her limited information base with anyone who will listen and becomes increasingly obsessed with the importance of good manners as she deals with the rude creatures of Wonderland. Alice maintains a superior attitude and behaves with solicitous indulgence toward those she believes are less privileged. The tension of Alices Adventures in Wonderland emerges when Alices fixed perspective of the world comes into contact with the mad, illogical world of Wonderland. Alic es fixed sense of order clashes with the madness she finds in Wonderland. The White Rabbit challenges her perceptions of class when he mistakes her for a servant, while the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Pigeon challenge Alices notions of

urbane intelligence with an unfamiliar logic that only makes sense within the context of Wonderland. Most significantly, Wonderland challenges her perceptions of good manners by constantly assaulting her with dismissive rudeness. Alices fundamental beliefs face challenges at every turn, and as a result Alice suffers an identity crisis. She persists in her way of life as she perceives her sense of order collapsing all around her. Alice must choose between retaining her notions of order and assimilating into Wonderlands nonsensical rules. The Cheshire Cat The Cheshire Cat is unique among Wonderland creatures. Threatened by no one, it maintains a cool, grinning outsider status. The Cheshire Cat has insight into the workings of Wonderland as a whole. Its calm explanation to Alice that to be in Wonderland is to be mad reveals a number of points that do not occur to Alice on her own. First, the Cheshire Cat points out that Wonderland as a place has a stronger cumulative effect than any of its citizens. Wonderland is ruled by non sense, and as a result, Alices normal behavior becomes inconsistent with its operating principles, so Alice herself becomes mad in the context of Wonderland. Certainly, Alices burning curiosity to absorb everything she sees in Wonderland sets her apart from the other Wonderland creatures, making her seem mad in comparison. The Queen of Hearts As the ruler of Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is the character that Alice must inevitably face to figure out the puzzle of Wonderland. In a sense, the Queen of Hea rts is literally the heart of Alices conflict. Unlike many of the other characters in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is not as concerned with nonsense and perversions of logic as she is with absolute rule and execution. In Wonderland, she is a singular force of fear who even dominates the King of Hearts. In the Queens presence, Alice finally gets a taste of true fear, even though she understands that the Queen of Hearts is merely a playing card. The Gryphon later informs Alice that the Queen never actually executes anyone she sentences to death, which reinforces the fact that the Queen of Heartss power lies in her rhetoric. The Queen becomes representative of the idea that Wonderland is devoid of substance.

Themes, Motifs & Symbols


Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The Tragic and Inevitable Loss of Childhood Innocence Throughout the course of Alices Adventures in Wonderland, Alice goes through a variety of absurd physical changes. The discomfort she feels at never being the right size acts as a symbol for the changes that occur during puberty. Alice finds these changes to be traumatic, and feels discomfort, frustration, and sadness when she goes through them. She struggles to maintain a comfortable physical size. In Chapter 1, she becomes upset when she keeps finding herself too big or too small to enter the garden. In Chapter 5, she loses control over specific body parts when her neck grows to an absurd length. These constant fluctuations represent the way a child may feel as her body grows and changes during puberty. Life as a Meaningless Puzzle In Alices Adventures in Wonderland, Alice encounters a series of puzzles that seem to have no clear solutions, which imitates the ways that life frustrates expectations. Alice expects that the situations she encounters will make a certain kind of sense, but they repeatedly frustrate her ability to figure out Wonderland. Alice tries to understand the Caucus race, solve the Mad Hatters riddle, and understand th e Queens ridiculous croquet game, but to no avail. In every instance, the riddles and challenges presented to Alice have no purpose or answer. Even though Lewis Carroll was a logician, in Alices Adventures in Wonderland he makes a farce out of jokes, riddles, and games of logic. Alice learns that she cannot expect to find logic or meaning in the situations that she encounters, even when they appear to be problems, riddles, or games that would normally have solutions that Alice would be able to figure out.

Carroll makes a broader point about the ways that life frustrates expectations and resists interpretation, even when problems seem familiar or solvable. Death as a Constant and Underlying Menace Alice continually finds herself in situations in which she risks death, and while these threats never materialize, they suggest that death lurks just behind the ridiculous events of Alices Adventures in Wonderland as a present and possible outcome. Death appears in Chapter 1, when the narrator mentions that Alice would say nothing of falling off of her own house, since it would likely kill her. Alice takes risks that could possibly kill her, but she never considers death as a possible outcome. Over time, she starts to realize that her experiences in Wonderland are far more threatening than they appear to be. As the Queen screams Off with its head! she understands that Wonderland may not merely be a ridiculous realm where expectations are repeatedly frustrated. Death may be a real threat, and Alice starts to understand that the risks she faces may not be ridiculous and absurd after all. Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the texts major themes. Dream Alices Adventures in Wonderland takes place in Alices dream, so that the characters and phenomena of the real world mix with elements of Alices unconscious state. The dream motif explains the abundance of nonsensical and disparate events in the story. As in a dream, the narrative follows the dreamer as she encounters various episodes in which she attempts to interpret her experiences in relationship to herself and her world. Though Alices experiences lend themselves to meaningful observations, they resist a singular and coherent interpretation. Subversion Alice quickly discovers during her travels that the only reliable aspect of Wonderland that she can count on is that it will frustrate her expectations and challenge her understanding of the natural order of the world. In Wonderland, Alice finds that her lessons no longer mean what she thought, as she botches her multiplication tables and incorrectly recites poems she had memorized while in Wonderland. Even Alices physical dimensions become warped as she grows and shrinks erratically throughout the story. Wonderland frustrates Alices desires to fit her experiences in a logical framework where she can make sense of the relationship between cause and effect. Language Carroll plays with linguistic conventions in Alices Adventures in Wonderland, making use of puns and playing on multiple meanings of words throughout the text. Carroll invents words and expressions and develops new meanings for words. Alices exclamation Curious and curiouser! suggests that both her surroundings and the language she uses to describe them expand beyond expectation and convention. Anything is possible in Wonderland, and Carrolls manipulation of language reflects this sense of unlimited possibility. Curious, Nonsense, and Confusing Alice uses these words throughout her journey to describe phenomena she has trouble explaining. Though the words are generally interchangeable, she usually assigns curiousand confusing to experiences or encounters that she tolerates. She endures is the experiences that are curious or confusing, hoping to gain a clearer picture of how that individual or experience functions in the world. When Alice declares something to be nonsense, as she does with the trial in Chapter 12, she rejects or criticizes the experience or encounter. Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

The Garden Nearly every object in Alices Adventures in Wonderland functions as a symbol, but nothing clearly represents one particular thing. The symbolic resonances of Wonderland objects are generally contained to the individual episode in which they appear. Often the symbols work together to convey a particular meaning. The garden may symbolize the Garden of Eden, an idyllic space of beauty and innocence that Alice is not permitted to access. On a more abstract level, the garden may simply represent the experience of desire, in that Alice focuses her energy and emotion on trying to attain it. The two symbolic meanings work together to underscore Alices desire to hold onto her feelings of childlike innocence that she must relinquish as she matures. The Caterpillars Mushroom Like the garden, the Caterpillars mushroom also has multiple symbolic meanings. Some readers and critics view the Caterpillar as a sexual threat, its phallic shape a symbol of sexual virility. The Caterpillars mushroom connects to this symbolic meaning. Alice must master the properties of the mushroom to gain control over her fluctuating size, which represents the bodily frustrations that accompany puberty. Others view the mushroom as a psychedelic hallucinogen that compounds Alices surreal and distorted perception of Wonderland.

Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Hole


Summary Alice sits drowsily by a riverbank, bored by the book her older sister reads to her. Out of nowhere, a White Rabbit runs past her, fretting that he will be late. The Rabbit pulls a watch out of his waistcoat pocket and runs across the field and down a hole. Alice impulsively follows the Rabbit and tumbles down the deep hole that resembles a well, falling slowly for a long time. As she floats down, she notices that the sides of the well are covered with cupboards and shelves. She plucks a marmalade jar from one of the shelves. The jar is empty, so Alice sets it down on another shelf. With nothing else to do, she speaks aloud to herself, wondering how far she has fallen and if she might fall right through to the other side of the earth. She continues to speak aloud, daydreaming about her cat Dinah. In the midst of imagining a conversation the two of them might have, she abruptly lands. Unhurt, Alice gets up and catches sight of the White Rabbit as he vanishes around a corner. Alice approaches a long corridor lined by doors. The doors are all locked, so Alice tests them with a key that she finds on a glass table. After searching around, Alice discovers a small door behind a curtain. She tests the key again and finds that it opens up to a passage and a garden. Since the door is much too small for Alice to squeeze through, she ventures back to the table with the hope that she might find something there that would help her. A bottle marked DRINK ME sits on the table. Alice drinks the contents of the bottle after inspecting it to be sure it does not contain poison. Alice immediately shrinks, and though she can now fit through the door, she realizes she has left the key on the tabletop high above her. She alternately cries and scolds herself for crying before catching sight of a small cake with the words EAT ME underneath the table. Alice eats the cake with the hope that it will change her size, but becomes disappointed when nothing happens. Analysis Alices Adventures in Wonderland begins with Alice dozing off as her sister reads to her, anticipating the strange and nonsensical events that occur throughout the book. As her sister reads, Alice nods off into a dream-like state in which she seems to catch sight of a fully dressed white rabbit capable of speaking English. Even before she enters Wonderland, she experiences phenomena that depart from the conventional rules of the real world. The plunge into the rabbit hole represents a plunge into deep sleep. Her dreams create a fully formed world that constantly shifts and transforms with its own unique logic. The slow fall imitates the shift from dozing off to deep sleep, beginning with Alices idle daydreaming and

ending with her firmly placed in her dream world. Alice slowly acclimates to the dream world but does not let go of the established logic of the waking world. She marvels that after this fall, she would think nothing of falling off of the top of her house, much less down the stairs, even though the narrator reminds us that both falls would still likely kill her. Alice runs away from the Victorian world of her sister because she feels unfulfilled, but she quickly discovers that Wonderland will not fulfill any of her desires. Wonderland thwarts her expectations at every turn. The Rabbit represents this motif of frustrated desire. His antics inspire Alice to follow him down the hole and into Wonderland, but he constantly stays one step ahead of her. Led on by curiosity, Alice follows the elusive rabbit even though she does not know what she will do once she catches him. She pursues him out of pure curiosity but believes that catching him will give her some new knowledge or satisfaction. Even when the outcome is unknown, the act of chasing implies that a desired goal exists. Alice cannot enter the garden even though she wants to, and her desire to enter the garden represents the feelings of nostalgia that accompany growing up. Carroll dramatizes the frustrations that occur with growing older as Alice finds herself either too small or too large to fit through the passageway into the garden. After drinking the potion, Alice shrinks and cannot reach the key on the table. The helplessness that comes with her exaggeratedly small size represents the feelings of insignificance of childhood. The growth spurt caused by the cake in Chapter 2 represents the awkward bodily transformations that come with puberty. Alices growth allows her the means to fulfill her destiny but literally reminds her that she is growing away from the pleasures of childhood. The idealized garden is now off limits to Alice, who can no more fit through the passageway than an infant could travel back to the safety and security of the womb.

Chapter 2: The Pool of Tears


Summary After finishing the cake that says EAT ME, Alice grows to nine feet tall and finds that she can barely get an eye down to the doorway. She begins to cry, and her massive tears form a sizable pool at her feet. The White Rabbit reappears and mutters to himself about keeping a Duchess waiting. Alice attempts to speak to him, but he scuttles away, leaving behind his gloves and fan. Alice picks up the fan and begins fanning herself. She muses on the possibility that she may not be Alice but someone else entirely. To determine if she knows all that Alice is supposed to know, she starts to recite her lessons. She finds that she gets the recitations wrong and considers the idea that she may not be Alice, but possibly a girl she knows named Mabel. Since Mabel knows very little, it makes sense to Alice that her confusion over the lessons must indicate that she has somehow become Mabel. If she is Mabel, there is no reason for her to find her way out of the well to rejoin society. Even though shes confused about her identity, she knows that she must find a way out of the well and back to the world aboveground. Alice realizes that the fanning motion causes her to shrink, so she fans herself down to a size that will allow her to fit through the door. Once again, Alice has forgotten the key, but before she can become upset, she tumbles into a pool of salt water. She thinks she has fallen into the sea, but quickly realizes that she is swimming in her own giant tears. As she swims, she comes across a Mouse, whom she asks for help. The Mouse doesnt understand Alice, so she tries to speak French to him. She recites a line from her French lessons, inquiring after a cat. At the mention of the cat, the Mouse leaps with fright. Alice apologizes but then absentmindedly chatters about her cat Dinah. The Mouse becomes offended, so she changes the subject to dogs. The talk of dogs only frightens the Mouse more, and he begins to swim away. Alice promises to stop talking about cats and dogs if the Mouse will come back. The Mouse swims back to Alice, telling her to follow it to shore, where he will tell his history to explain his hatred for cats and dogs. Now accompanied by several other animals that have fallen into the pool, including a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet, Alice and the Mouse swim to shore.

Analysis Alice becomes confused about her identity as her size changes, mirroring the confusion that occurs during the transition from childhood to adulthood. The reality that she is too large to fit into the garden produces confusion over who she is, which Alice responds to with bouts of crying and self-reproach. Unable to accept the changes she is experiencing, she questions her own identity. Since she cannot remember her own lessons, she believes that she must not be Alice anymore. At first, Alice assumes that she may in fact be someone she knows. The comparisons she draws between herself and Mabel show her classconsciousness, as well as her ties to the material trappings of the Victorian world. Though she tries to use chains of reasoning suited to the aboveground world, the paradox of Wonderland is that she must accept the logic of nonsense or she will go mad with contradiction. Alice tries to deal with her predicament reasonably, but the episode in the pool of tears illustrates how easily Wonderland distracts her from reason and causes her to react emotionally. The sea of tears is like a punishment for Alices giving in to her own emotions. Alice vacillates between crying and scolding herself, going back and forth between emotion and reason. However, as she swims, she doesnt notice t hat the landscape has transformed around her. The great hall has become an ocean, while the floor has become a dry shore. Instead of reacting to her predicament by rationalizing the problem or starting to cry, she distracts herself by trying to figure out how to address the Mouse. Alice has started to react with total detachment to the absurd situations in which she finds herself. As she proceeds throughout her journeys, she will continue to encounter problems that cause her to react with extremes of emotion or reason. However, in this scene, she has begun to take the absurdities of Wonderland at face value, allowing herself to become distracted so that she ignores the real problem at hand.

Chapter 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale


Summary Alice and the group of animals land on the bank and focus on getting dry. Alice begins arguing with the Lory, but the Mouse interjects and commands everyone to sit down and listen to a history lesson. The Mouse reasons that the story of William the Conqueror would be best since this story is the driest thing it knows. After completing the story, Alice and the other animals are still wet, prompting the Dodo to suggest a Caucus race. The Dodo marks out a course, sets everyone in place, and yells go. The animals run around haphazardly until the Dodo declares half an hour later that the race is over. The Dodo says that all of them have won the Caucus race and elects Alice to confer prizes. Alice passes mints to all the animals, leaving herself without a prize. Finding a thimble, she hands it to the Dodo, who in turn presents it back to her as her prize. Alice solemnly accepts the thimble but cannot help feeling that the gesture is absurd. After eating their mints, the Mouse declares that it will tell its tale. Alice confuses tale and tail, and focuses on the Mouses appendage as it talks about Fury prosecuting a mouse in court. The Mouse chides Alice for not paying attention, and though Alice apologizes, the two misunderstand each other and the Mouse leaves in a huff. The other animals lament the Mouses absence, and Alice mentions that she wishes her cat Dinah were there to bring the Mouse back. Alice continues to tell the animals that Dinah eats birds, which causes all of the animals to scatter in fear. Alone again, Alice begins to cry until she hears the distant pattering of footsteps. Analysis The Caucus race provides a thinly veiled critique of the absurdity of English politics at the turn of the century while making a larger comment about the general meaninglessness of life. The animals run randomly in circles, progress nowhere, and arbitrarily adjourn without any clear conclusion. Carroll implies that politicians do the same, behaving with a great deal of pomp and circumstance without actually accomplishing anything. On a broader scale, the caucus race seems to imply that there may not be a clear purpose and meaning to life itself. Though the race accomplishes the intended purpose of getting

everyone dry, they do not follow a clear path or understand what they are doing as they do it. This may be a broader commentary on the fact that life takes unexpected and sometimes arbitrary twists and turns but ultimately ends up in the right place even though there may not be a clear purpose. There is a great deal of confusion about words and their meanings in this chapter, showing the ways that Wonderland distorts language. When Alice mistakes the Mouses tale for its tail, visualizing the former in the shape of the latter, her inability to understand the inhabitants of Wonderland emerges. The purpose of language is to convey meaning, which requires words to have fixed definitions in order to consistently convey meaning. In Wonderland, language, as well as characters, events, and terrains, change meaning and significance from moment to moment. Each aspect of Wonderland has no lasting impact outside of the scene and the context in which it operates. As a result, there are no consistent patterns of meaning that would create a system of logic in Wonderland that might allow a visitor such as Alice to make sense of her surroundings. Alices verbal miscues with the Mouse are one example of her inability to understand patterns of behavior and thus establish any kind of expectation of what to anticipate in Wonderland.

Chapter 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill


Summary The White Rabbit approaches Alice, looking for his gloves and fan. Alice searches dutifully but cannot find them. The White Rabbit mistakes Alice for his housemaid, Mary Ann, and commands her to go to his house and fetch his things. Startled by the Rabbits demands, Alice obeys and soon finds his h ouse. As she walks, she thinks about how strange it is to take orders from animals and imagines that her cat Dinah might start ordering her around when she gets back home. Inside of the house, she finds the gloves and fan, as well as a little bottle labeled DRINK ME. Curious to find out what the contents of the bottle will do, Alice drinks the liquid. Before she can finish, she begins growing rapidly and can barely fit in the room. Her arm dangles from a window and her foot becomes wedged in the chimney. Alice decides that her adventures are like a fairy tale and imagines writing her own stories once she grows up. Given her new size, she reasons that perhaps she has in fact grown up and will never age. The White Rabbit interrupts her train of thought by calling for his fan and gloves. He tries to storm into the house, but Alices giant arm prevents the door from opening. The Rabbit tries to climb through the window, but Alice bats him away with her giant hand. The Rabbit calls out for his servant, Pat, and the two begin to plot a way to deal with Alice when she swats them away again. The Rabbit and Pat recruit another servant, a lizard named Bill, to climb down the chimney, but Alice launches him into the air with her foot. A crowd gathered outside calls to burn down the house. Alice threatens to send Dinah to get them and they begin hurling pebbles through the window at her face. The pebbles transform into cakes, and reasoning that the cakes might cause her to become smaller, Alice eats one and shrinks. She leaves the house and encounters a mob of animals ready to rush her. Alice flees and heads into a wood where she thinks about how she might return to her normal size and find the garden. A sharp bark causes her to look up at an enormous puppy standing over her. Afraid it might be hungry, Alice tires it out by teasing it with a stick. She then sets off, wondering what she might eat or drink to return to her original height. She comes across a giant mushroom and climbs to the top, discovering a blue caterpillar smoking a hookah with an air of indifference. Analysis The White Rabbits status as an authority figure forces Alice to adjust her perception that humans sit at the top of the animal hierarchy. Alice wonders if her experiences in Wonderland will affect the way she conducts herself when she gets back home, since she imagines that she will have to start taking orders from her cat Dinah. Alice accepts the inversion of the natural order with the same faith that she might accept new information in her normal day-to-day life. Wonderland breaks down Alices beliefs about her identity and replaces those learned beliefs and understandings of the world with Wonderlands nonsensical

rules. Alice understands this identity displacement in terms of a fairy tale. She sta tes, When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one! Fiction has intruded on her own sense of reality, and she finds herself unable to keep the two separate. Alice is no longer the Alice she knew at home and is not altogether sure of who she is anymore. Alice continues to have problems with her size, which exacerbates her confusion over her identity and once again alludes to the painful transition from childhood to adulthood. In Chapter 1, her changing size became a source of anxiety for Alice, revealing her desire to remain a child and avoid the pressures of adulthood. In this chapter, she identifies as a growing girl too large to be shut in by forces that seek to constrict and repress her. The focus on physical space in Chapter 4 emphasizes a childs emerging feelings of claustrophobia as he or she grows and changes. The house represents domestic repression, an idea underscored by the fact that Alice enters it as a servant girl. When Alice literally outgrows the house, her body manifests her desire to transcend the boundaries of her confined existence. When Alice meets the puppy, she finally discovers a Wonderland creature that behaves in a way that she expects. Unlike the other creatures Alice encounters in Wonderland, the puppy behaves the way a puppy would in the real world. Alice isnt the only one who recognizes this aberration in the logic of Wonderland. In a later chapter, the Cheshire Cat tries to prove to Alice that it is mad b y comparing itself to a dog, which it views as being quite normal. The fact that the dog is the only thing in Wonderland that resembles Alices reality at home may be a function of the fact that Carroll hated dogs. Carroll reveals his disdain for canines by giving the dog none of the magical qualities of the other animals in Wonderland.

Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar


Summary Alice comes across a Caterpillar that is resting on top of a giant mushroom and smoking a hookah pipe. The two stare at each other in silence for a while before the Caterpillar asks Alice, Who are you? Alice has trouble explaining who she is to the antagonistic and contemptuous Caterpillar. Dejected, she turns to leave, but the Caterpillar calls her back to recite a poem. The Caterpillar duly notes that she recites the poem incorrectly and goes on to ask what size she would like to be. Alice states that being three inches tall is a wretched height, which insults the three-inch-tall Caterpillar. The Caterpillar crawls away in a huff, but not before telling Alice that eating one side of the mushroom will make her grow larger and eating the other side will make her grow smaller. Alice tastes the right-hand portion of the mushroom and shrinks. She next tries part of the left-hand portion of the mushroom, and her neck grows so long that her head is above the treetops. Realizing she cannot get the other part of mushroom to her mouth, she attempts to reorient herself when a Pigeon attacks her. The Pigeon has mistaken Alice for a serpent who wants to eat its eggs. Alice assures the Pigeon that she is not a serpent, and the Pigeon skulks back to its nest, leaving Alice to nibble at the two pieces of the mushroom until she returns to her original height. Back at her proper size, Alice wanders around the forest looking for the garden when she encounters a four-foot-tall house. She decides to visit the house and eats the portion of the mushroom to reduce her size to nine inches tall. Analysis When the Caterpillar asks Alice Who are you, she finds that she doesnt know who she is anymore. The Caterpillar aggravates Alices uncertainty about her constantly changing size. The Caterpillar also may represent the threat of sexuality, as suggested by its phallic shape. Alice recognizes this threat when she calls attention to the Caterpillars impending bodily transformation, since caterpillars reach sexual maturity in butterfly form. Though she seeks guidance and compassion from the Caterpillar, she finds only further self doubt under its brusque scrutiny. Regardless, she defers to the Caterpillars authority, just as she did with the White Rabbit in the previous chapter. Alices confusion peaks when the Caterpillar seems to be

able to read her thoughts, answering her unspoken question just as if she had asked it aloud. Her identity is so confused now that her thoughts no longer seem to be her own. Alice has trouble reciting the poem Father William and finds that her inability to remember things she knows well shows the effects of Wonderland on her brain. Though the Caterpillar is a denizen of Wonderland, he has some familiarity with the poem that Alice recites, and he demonstrates his knowledge by pointing out that she has it wrong from beginning to end. The poem Father William (also known as The Old Mans Comforts), by Robert Southey, is a didactic poem about the importance of living in moderation, and many Victorian children were required to memorize it. The Caterpillar proposes that Alice recite the poem to gauge how much she has changed. Alices mutilation of the poem occurs as a result of Wonderlands effect on her brain. The Caterpillars contemptuous authoritarian presence compounds her flustered state. The Pigeon accuses Alice of being a serpent, which causes her to doubt not only who she is but also what she is. Estranged from her old self, Alice has trouble defending herself to the Pigeon. The Pigeon reasons that since Alice exhibits key traits of a serpent, having a long neck and eating eggs, she must in fact be a serpent. Alice becomes trapped in this logic so that she becomes identified by a single action and feature. The Pigeon threatens Alices already shaken assumption of a stable identity.

Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper


Summary From the wood, Alice sees a fish in footmans livery approach the house and knock on the door. A similarly dressed frog answers the door and receives a letter inviting the Duchess to play croquet with the Queen. After the Fish Footman leaves, Alice approaches the Frog Footman, who sits on the ground staring stupidly up at the sky. Alice knocks at the door, but the Frog Footman explains that now that she is outside, no one will answer her knock since the people inside are making too much noise to hear her. He tells her he plans to sit there for days and seems unsurprised when the door opens a crack and a plate flies out and grazes his nose. Annoyed with his idiotic manner, Alice opens the door and finds herself in a kitchen. A Duchess nurses a baby, a grinning cat sits on the hearth, and a Cook stands at the stove, dumping pepper into a cauldron of soup. The pepper causes the Duchess and the baby to sneeze incessantly. Alice inquires why the cat grins and learns from the Duchess that it is a Cheshire Cat. Wondering aloud why a cat would grin at all, the Duchess insults Alice, telling her that she must not know very much. Meanwhile, the Cook hurls objects randomly at the Duchess and the baby, including fire-irons, saucepans, and plates. Alice tells the Cook to mind herself, and attempts to change the subject of conversation by bringing up the earths axis. The Duchess mishears Alice, and thinking she is talking about axes, spontaneously shouts, Chop off her head! The Duchess starts to sing a nasty lullaby to the baby, roughly tussling it as she sings. Upon finishing, she flings the baby at Alice and hurries out of the room to prepare for croquet with the Queen. Alice takes the baby outside, only to discover that it is a pig. After she lets the pig toddle off, she encounters the Cheshire Cat again, grinning broadly as it rests on the bough of a tree. After inquiring of the Cheshire Cat where she might go next, he tells her that no matter where she goes she will end up somewhere. The Cheshire Cat arbitrarily suggests she visit the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, but warns her that they are both mad. When Alice responds that she does not want to be among mad people, he tells her that all people are mad, and if she is in Wonderland, she must be mad too. Alice attempts to press the point, but the Cheshire Cat changes the subject, telling Alice that it will see her at the Queens croquet match later. The Cheshire Cat vanishes and reappears before fading to nothing but a disembodied grin, leaving Alice to travel onward to the March Hares house. Upon discovering that the house is larger than she is, Alice consumes a portion of the Caterpillars mushroom and grows to two feet tall.

Analysis Chapter 6 derives humor from the fact that the inhabitants of Wonderland consider their environment and actions to be completely normal. The Frog Footman reacts to the near miss of the flying plate with complete nonchalance, talking on as if nothing had happened. The Frog Footman seems to expect nothing less than total chaos. Alice attempts to fit the Frog Footma ns behavior into a logical structure, failing to understand that Wonderlands order is defined by chaos. She does not realize how close she comes to the truth with the exclamation that the Frog Footmans belligerence is enough to drive one crazy! As the Cheshire Cat later explains, Alice must be mad herself in order to understand the nature of things in Wonderland. Even though there seems to be a rigid social structure in Wonderland, the Frog Footman and the Duchess reject normal social conventions and behave arbitrarily. The presence of a Duchess with a Footman suggests a rigid social order, complete with codes of conduct. This hierarchy reminds Alice of her own society, but their behavior destroys any traditional notion of social convention. The Frog Footman is idiotic and argumentative, and the Duchess exhibits vile and violent behavior. Traditional social codes are ignored, as the Frog Footman has no comprehension of time and thinks nothing of plates flying at his face. The Duchess treats her baby rudely and aggressively, and would likely scoff at the ways that Victorian women care for their babies. The Duchesss rhyme emphasizes the rejection of social convention, drawing upon a Victorian poem by David Bates that recommends gentle treatment of babies, a message that the Duchess completely ignores. Alice begins to accept the rejection of tradition and social order when she discovers that the baby is in fact a pig, considering that other children she knows from home might also do very well as pigs . . . if only one knew the right way to change them. Despite the pun on change (to change a babys diaper, to literally change a baby into a pig), Alice begins to accept the bizarre social behaviors of Wonderland. The Cheshire Cat explains to Alice that madness is the chief characteristic of the residents of Wonderland, and that to be in Wonderland is to be mad. In order to exist at all in Wonderland, one must accept its inherent irrationality. The Cheshire Cat reasons that in order to accept this irrationality at all, one must be mad. Alices unflagging curiosity makes her mad in the Cheshire Cats eyes, since it characterizes her unique and illogical approach to Wonderlands natives. The Cheshire Cats use of the word mad puns on the word made, since everything in Wonderland is fabricated. Alices willingness to venture into her own dream means that she herself is similarly fabricated. The Cheshire Cat understands that Wonderland and all of its inhabitants exists as a figment of Alices dreaming imaginat ion.

Chapter 7: A Mad Tea Party


Summary Alice approaches a large table set under the tree outside the March Hares house and comes across the Mad Hatter and the March Hare taking tea. They rest their elbows on a sleeping Dormouse who sits between them. They tell Alice that there is no room for her at the table, but Alice sits anyway. The March Hare offers Alice wine, but there is none. Alice tells the March Hare that his conduct is uncivil, to which he rejoins that it was uncivil of her to sit down without being invited. The Mad Hatter enters the conversation, opining that Alices hair wants cutting. Alice admonishes his rudeness, but he ignores her scolding and responds with a riddle: Why is a raven like a writing desk? Alice attempts to answer the r iddle, which begins a big argument about semantics. After their argument, the tea party sits in silence until the Mad Hatter asks the March Hare the time. When he discovers that the March Hares watch, which measures the day of the month, is broken, the Mad Hatter becomes angry. He blames the March Hare for getting crumbs on the watch when the March Hare was spreading butter on it. The March Hare sullenly dips the watch in his tea, dejectedly remarking that It was the best butter. Alice gives up on the riddle and becomes angry with the Mad Hatter when she discovers that he doesnt know the answer either. She tells him he should not waste time asking riddles that have no answers. The

Mad Hatter calmly explains that Time is a him, not an it. He goes on t o recount how Time has been upset ever since the Queen of Hearts said the Mad Hatter was murdering time while he performed a song badly. Since then, Time has stayed fixed at six oclock, which means that they exist in perpetual tea time. Bored with this line of conversation, the March Hare states that he would like to hear a story, so they wake up the Dormouse. The Dormouse tells a story about three sisters who live in a treacle-well, eating and drawing treacle. Confused by the story, Alice interjects with so many questions that the Dormouse becomes insulted. Alice continues to ask questions until the Mad Hatter insults her and she storms off in disgust. As she walks, she looks back at the Mad Hatter and the March Hare as they attempt to stuff the Dormouse into a teapot. In the wood, Alice encounters a tree with a door in it. She enters the door and finds herself back in the great hall. Alice goes back to the table with the key and uses the mushroom to grow to a size that she can reach the key, then to shrink back to the size that she can fit through the door. She goes through the door and at last arrives at the passageway to the garden. Analysis When Alice discovers that Time is a person and not merely an abstract concept, she realizes that not only are social conventions inverted, but the very ordering principles of the universe are turned upside down. Not even time is reliable, as Alice learns that Time is not an abstract it but a specific him. An unruly, subjective personality replaces the indifferent mechanical precision associated with the concept of time. Time can punish those who have offended it, and Time has in fact punished the Mad Hatter by stopping still at six oclock, trapping the Mad Hatter and March Hare in a perpetual teatime. The Mad Hat ter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse must carry out an endless string of pointless conversations, which may reflect a childs perception of what an actual English teatime was really like. Alice must adjust her own perceptions of time, since the Mad Hatters watch indicates that days are rushing by. However, the party has not moved past the month of March, the month during which the March Hare goes mad. Though the tea party challenges Alices understanding of the fundamental concept of time, the Mad Hatters answerless riddle reaffirms Wonderlands unusual sense of order. The riddle seems to have no answer and exists solely to perpetuate confusion and disorder. Some readers have suggested that the riddle does in fact have an answer: Edgar Allen Poe wrote on both the subject of a Raven and wrote on a physical writing desk. In Wonderland, chaos is the ruling principle, but a strange sense of order still exists. Though riddles need not have answers, language must retain some kind of logic. The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse point out to Alice that saying what she means and meaning what she says are not the same thing. Alice has said that she cannot take more tea because she has not had any yet. However, as the Mad Hatter points out, Alice can indeed take more tea even though she has not had any, since its very easy to take more than nothing. The language games at the tea party underscore the inconsistency of Wonderland, but also imply that the ordering principles that govern Alices world are just as arbitrary.
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Chapter 8: The Queens Croquet Ground


Summary Alice enters the garden and meets three gardeners in the shape of playing cards. The gardeners Two, Five, and Seven bicker with each other as they paint the white roses on the rose trees red. Upon noticing Alice, the gardeners explain that they have planted white rose trees by mistake and must paint them red before the Queen of Hearts finds out. Just then, the Queen arrives, surrounded by a great entourage of

living playing cards. The gardeners scramble to their bellies to bow before the Queen, who asks for Alices name with great severity. Alice answers the Queen graciously and realizes she should not be afraid, as they are simply a pack of cards. The Queen asks Alice about the trembling gardeners. Alice responds flippantly, prompting the Queen to call for Alices beheading until the King calms her down. Upon discovering what the gardeners were doing, she orders their decapitation and moves on. Alice saves the gardeners by hiding them in a flower pot and going off with the Queen to play croquet. When she arrives at the croquet match, Alice finds out from the White Rabbit that the Duchess is under sentence of execution for boxing the Queens ears. Alice has a difficult time adjusting to the curious version of croquet played by the Queen. The croquet ground is ridged, the croquet balls are live hedgehogs, and the mallets are live flamingos. The various playing cards stand on all fours to form the arches that the balls are hit through. As she plays, the Queen apoplectically shouts for everyones decapitation. Alice attempts to slip away from the croquet match, but catches sight of the Cheshire Cats grin. The Cheshire Cat asks her how she is getting on, and Alice begins to complain about the Queens unusual behavior. The King notices the conversation and attempts to bully the Cheshire Cat, but it refuses to give in to the Kings taunts. The King becomes aggravated and calls for the Queen to remove the Cheshire Cat. The Queen carelessly orders its decapitation, but the executioner and the King cannot agree on how to execute the Cheshire Cat, who at this point is only a head floating in midair. They appeal to Alice, who suggests that they get the advice of the Duchess, who owns the Cheshire Cat. By the time the Duchess arrives, the Cheshire Cat has completely vanished. Analysis When Alice reaches the garden, she hopes that it will fulfill her desires, but her experience in the garden proves to be as frustrating as the rest of Wonderland. Alice has sought out the garden since she first glimpsed it in chapter one. The garden occupies a central role not only in Alices quest but also in Wonderland. The garden is the seat of power for the King and Queen of Hearts, and the use of the card suit of hearts underscores the idea that the garden is the heart of Wonderland. Alice quickly discovers that the garden provides no great experience of enlightenment. The rules and practices of the garden are just as idiosyncratic and maddening as the rest of the locales she has visited. The beds of bright flowers she pined for are nothing more than ridges and furrows, and the roses are painted red rather than being naturally beautiful. The garden is not an idyllic place of calm pastoral beauty, but an artificially constructed space that becomes a source of anxiety and fear for Alice. Alice has grown accustomed the unusual social hierarchy of Wonderland, but the discovery that an inanimate object rules as Queen shakes Alices fragile understanding of her surroundings. Before her arrival in the garden, Alice experienced an inverted hierarchy in which animals have a measure of authority and treat her as an inferior. Alice has become accustomed to following the orders of the likes of the White Rabbit. She discovers in the garden that all of these animals are the subjects of an inanimate object, a Queen who is a playing card. In Alices world, inanimate objects register below animals in the social hierarchy (assuming that inanimate objects would fit into a social hierarchy at all). The Queen acts not only as a ruler, but as a ruthless authoritarian with a penchant for ordering her subjects beheadings. She utilizes living creatures as objects, playing croquet using hedgehogs, flamingos, and her playing-card subjects as equipment. Wonderland completely reverses the conventions of the aboveground world, so that inanimate objects rule the land and use living creatures as tools. Alice starts to realize that she may have more power in Wonderland than she realized. Once she figures out that the Queen and her procession are merely a pack of cards, she de monstrates a previously unseen courage. She talks to the Queen with great insolence, attacking the illusion of Wonderlands power. Though she stands up for herself, she doesnt yet attempt to assert control over the Queen. However, the fact that the gardeners, the king, and the executioner have deferred to Alice and asked her for help in mediating conflict indicates that they believe she has some measure of authority. Ultimately, Alice only has to wake up to destroy Wonderland and all of its inhabitants. Ho wever, she remains uneasy

as she plays croquet with the Queen, since a dispute might bring an early end to her dream and prohibit Alice from ever figuring out the point of Wonderland.

Chapter 9: The Mock Turtles Story


Summary After the disappearance of the Cheshire Cat, the croquet game starts up again and the Duchess takes Alices arm. The two start to walk, and Alice becomes uncomfortable that the Duchess holds her so close. Alice thinks that the Duchess is behaving pleasantl y because there isnt any pepper present. The two walk and talk, and the Duchess takes every opportunity to explain various moral lessons to Alice. The Duchess attempts to put her hand around Alices waist, but Alice convinces her not to, telling her that the flamingo croquet mallet might bite. They run into the Queen, who sternly orders the Duchess off and asks Alice to resume the croquet game. In little time, the Queen narrows the croquet game down to Alice, the King, and herself. All of the other players have been sent off for beheadings. With no soldiers remaining to act as arches, the Queen concludes the game and decides that Alice should visit the Mock Turtle. While the King pardons the condemned croquet players, the Queen brings Alice to the Gryphon, who leads her to the Mock Turtle. En route, the Gryphon explains to Alice that the Queen never actually executes anyone. Alice meets the Mock Turtle and immediately becomes concerned since he looks so sad. The Gryphon shows no sympathy for the Mock Turtle, explaining to Alice that he only fancies himself as being sad. Amid constant sobbing, the Mock Turtle begins his tale by explaining that he used to be a real turtle. He went to sea school every day, and his master was an old turtle named Tortoise. Alice interrupts, asking why the teacher would go by the name of Tortoise if he wasnt a tortoise. The Mock Turtle chastises her, explaining that he was so named because he taught us. He goes on to talk about his education, which he considers to be the finest available. He studied a variety of unusual subjects, including Reeling and Writing, as well as Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. Alice inquires about the length of the lessons, and the Mock Turtle says that they became shorter with each passing day. Alice finds this puzzling, but the Mock Turtle explains that they were called lessons because they lessen. When Alice asks what happened when there was no time left for lessons, the Gryphon changes the subject to games. Analysis The Duchess tries to find a moral in everything in much the same way that Alice tries to understand her environment in terms of cause and effect. The Duchess remarks that everythings got a moral, if only you can find it. Her statement resonates with Alices understanding that everything she encounters should result in a lesson of some kind. Alice fails to recognize that her preoccupation with rules resembles the Duchesss preoccupation with morals. Her inability to see this parallel shows that she has not reached a level of self-awareness that will allow her to understand the power that she is capable of wielding over Wonderland. Carroll uses the character of the Duchess to condemn the self-righteous moralizing of Victorian England. The Duchesss relentless discussion of morals prevents Alice from having private space for her own thoughts. The Duchess seems to be corrupting Alice, and her physical advances have sexual overtones. The romantic overtures are subtle at first, but the proposal of an experiment to wrap her arm around Alices waist seems ominous and threatening, especially given the Duchesss morals about love. The Duchess comes across as a sexual predator who makes Alice feel both uncomfortable and worried. Although one critic writes that this scene suggests Carrolls own fear of being seduced by a middle-aged woman, it is more likely that Carroll meant to denounce adult didacticism and the feelings of intrusion and threat it inspires in children. The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle are the first inhabitants of Wonderland that Alice can comfortably relate to, but she finds she cannot escape the nonsense logic that dominates their behavior. The Gryphon and

Mock Turtle speak directly and have peaceable manners. They become the closest thing to friends that Alice has encountered thus far on her travels. The Gryphon chuckles at the Queen and deflates her authority by explaining that she never actually goes through with the executions she orders. Alice finds comfort in the fact that her two new companions are able to step back and critically observe the unusual aspects of Wonderland. Additionally, the Gryphon and Mock Turtle have had lives that at least bear some resemblance to Alices. The description of sea school reminds Alice of her own education, even though the subjects studied there are puns on the type of studies Alice might have pursued in school. However, the Gryphon and Mock Turtle inevitably begin speaking nonsense. Alice finds herself at an impasse when they fail to address the question about what happens when the lessons lessen to nothing. Though she has found creatures she feels comfortable with, she cannot understand them no matter how hard she tries.

Chapter 10: The Lobster Quadrille


Summary The Mock Turtle continues to sigh and sob and finally asks Alice if she has ever been introduced to a lobster. Alice almost volunteers that she once tasted one, but checks herself and simply says no. The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon describe the Lobster-Quadrille, a dance where all of the sea animals (except the jellyfish) partner up with the lobsters, advance from the seashore and throw the lobsters out to sea. The Mock Turtle and Gryphon decide to demonstrate the first figure of the Lobster-Quadrille for Alice, even though they dont have any lobsters. As they dance, the Mock Turtle sings a tune about a whiting and a snail. After they finish the dance, Alice asks about the whiting, holding back her impulse to mention that she has also tasted whiting. The Gryphon explains to Alice that despite her misconception, whiting does not have crumbs and is named a whiting because it shines the sea animals shoes. Noting that in the song, the porpoise steps on the whitings tail, Alice says that had she been in the whitings place she would have left the porpoise out of the dance. The Mock Turtle explains to Alice that it is unwise for a fish to go anywhere without a porpoise (punning onpurpose). The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle ask Alice to recount her adventures, and Alice relates her travels in Wonderland, getting as far as her encounter with the Caterpillar before they interrupt her. They find it curious that Alice botched the words to Father William, and they order her to recite the poem Tis the voice of the sluggard. Alice messes up the words of this poem, too, which greatly befuddles the Mock Turtle, who wants explanations of the nonsensical verse that results. The Gryphon recommends that she stop reciting. He offers to show her the Lobster-Quadrille again or hear a song by the Mock Turtle. Alice requests the song and the Mock Turtle sings Turtle Soup. As the Mock Turtle finishes the song, the Gryphon hears the cry The trials beginning! and whisks Alice away. Analysis Though the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon initially seem to sympathize with Alice, she soon learns that they do not understand her plight at all. When she first begins talking to them, they seem to be the only creatures in Wonderland that show interest in her bizarre adventures. By using words such as curious, nonsense, confusing, and even dreadful, they align themselves with Alices attitudes about the strange situations and creatures she has encountered. They seem to see things the way that Alice does and sympathize with her frustration at Wonderlands backward logic. Alice soon discover s that their feelings are inauthentic. The Gryphon is too detached to identify with Alice, while the Mock Turtle is so sentimental that Alice cannot believe that his feelings are genuine. Though the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle are unable to relate to Alice, they break the pattern of antagonism that she has experienced thus far in her interactions with the residents of Wonderland. Up to this point, Alice has met creatures that behave contemptuously toward her. Regardless of whether or not their behavior is genuine or insincere, the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon deviate from the rude belligerence that Alice has come to expect from her encounters. They do not argue with each other or with Alice and

make the effort to sympathize and connect with Alice. Their behavior breaks a pattern that Alice has become accustomed to, revealing that Wonderland will frustrate every expectation.

Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?


Summary Alice arrives in the courtroom and finds the King and Queen of Hearts on their thrones, surrounded by a large crowd of animals and the whole deck of cards. The Knave lies chained before them. Alice surveys the room and takes great pleasure in identifying the various features of a court of law that she has read about. Alice notices that all of the jurors are writing down their own names, which the Gryphon explains that they all must do lest they forget their names before the trials end. Alice calls the jurors stupid things, and the jurors immediately write this down. She snatches a squeaking pencil out of the hand of the juror Bill, last seen as the servant of the White Rabbit, and he promptly begins writing with his finger. The White Rabbit, serving the court as a herald, reads the accusation that the Knave of Hearts has stolen the Queens tarts. The Mad Hatter comes forth as the first witness, bearing a teacup and a piece of bread and butter. The King bids the Hatter remove his hat, but the Hatter refuses, explaining that he does not own the hats, he merely sells them. As Alice watches, she finds that she has started to grow again. The Dormouse becomes upset by Alices growth and storms off to the other side of the court to avoid being crushed by Alice. The Hatter delivers a bungled testimony, nervously suggesting that the March Hare said something. Before he can relate what the March Hare said, the Hare denies that he said something. The Hatter tries to explain that the Dormouse said something, but the Dormouse doesnt reply because he has fallen fast asleep. A juror asks the Hatter what it was the Dormouse said, but the Hatter cannot remember. The King insults the Hatters stupidity, which prompts a guinea pig to start cheering. The guinea pig is immediately suppressed by being tied up in a bag and sat on. Once the guinea pig has been suppressed, th e King commands the Hatter to stand down. The Hatter replies that he can stand no lower, so the King bids him sit down. Another guinea pig begins cheering and is similarly suppressed. Finally, the King permits the Hatter to leave, and he sneaks off before the Queen has time to order one of the officers to chop off his head. The King calls the Cook as the next witness. The King asks her what the tarts are made of, and the Cook replies Pepper. The Dormouse sleepily calls out the word treacle, and the cour troom flies into chaos. Amidst the frenzy, the Cook disappears. The King demands that the next witness be called, and the White Rabbit calls Alice to the stand. Analysis Alice has failed to find meaning in Wonderland but hopes that she will find logic and order in the trial. She sees the Wonderland court as a true court of justice, viewing the institution of law as a refuge of sanity in which an objective and undeniable truth will prevail. She excitedly identifies the various components of a court of law, such as the jury box and the jurors. The similarities of the Wonderland court to an aboveground court reinforce Alices faith in the sanctity of law. Alice takes great pleasure in recognizing the elements of a courtroom given the degree to which her expectations and perceptions have been confounded throughout her travels. Alice desires meaning and order and the trial becomes to the last opportunity to realize her need for coherence and sanity. Alice quickly realizes that in a world without meaning, the search for truth and order can only be a sham. The King repeatedly demands a verdict but one never materializes. The trial mocks the legal process. The importance of trivial points supersedes core issues of right and wrong, innocence and guilt. The absurdity of the legal trial recalls the ridiculous Caucus Race, in which pointless activity serves as a means to arrive at conclusions that have nothing to do with the intended purposes of the institutions. Just as the Caucus Race has no clear winner, the trial fails to determine the culpability of the Knave. Several critics have

pointed out that the concept of law itself, rather than the Knave, is on trial in this scene. As with the Caucus Race, Carroll indicts the legal system in Wonderland as a way of critiquing the legal system in our own world.

Chapter 12: Alices Evidence


Summary Alice jumps to the White Rabbits call to the stand. She forgets that she has grown larger and knocks over the jury stand, then scrambles to put all of the jurors back. Alice claims to k now nothing whatever about the tarts, which the King deems very important. The White Rabbit corrects the King, suggesting that he in fact means unimportant. The King agrees, muttering the words important and unimportant to himself. The King interjects with Rule 42, which states, All persons more than a mile high to leave the court. Everyone turns to Alice, who denies she is a mile high and accuses the King of fabricating the rule. The King replies that Rule 42 is the oldest rule in the book, but Alice retorts that if it is the oldest rule in the book, it ought to be the first rule. The King becomes quiet for a moment before calling for a verdict. The White Rabbit interrupts and declares that more evidence must be presented first. He presents a paper supposedly written by the Knave, though it is not written in the Knaves handwriting. The Knave refutes the charge, explaining that there is no signature on the document. The King reasons that the Knave must have meant mischief because he did not sign the note like an honest man would. The court seems pleased by this reasoning, and the Queen concludes that the paper proves the Knaves guilt. Alice demands to read the poem on the paper. While the poem appears to have no meaning, the King provides an explanation and calls for a verdict. The Queen demands that the sentence come before the verdict. Alice chaffs at this proposal and criticizes the Queen, who calls for Alices beheading. Alice has grown to her full size and bats away the playing cards as they fly upon her. Alice suddenly wakes up and finds herself back on her sisters lap at the riverbank. She tells her adventures to her sister who bids her go inside for tea. Alice traipses off, while her sister remains by the riverbank daydreaming. She envisions the characters from Alices adventures, but knows that when she opens her eyes the images will dissipate. She imagines that Alice will one day grow older but retain her childlike spirit and recount her adventures to other children. Analysis The chapter title Alices Evidence refers both to the evidence that Alice gives during the trial, and also the evidence that she discovers that Wonderland is a dream that she can control by waking up. Alice realizes during the trial that it all doesnt matter a bit what the jury records or whether the jury is upside down or right side up. None of the details or orientations in Wonderland have any bearing on a coherent or meaningful outcome. Alices growth during the trial mirrors her growing awareness of the f act that Wonderland is an illusion. She starts to grow when the Mad Hatter bites into his teacup, and she reaches full height during the heated exchange with the Queen when she points out that her antagonists are nothing but a pack of cards! Alice exposes Wonderland as an illusion and her growth to full size comes with her realization that she has a measure of control over the illusion. Once she understands that Wonderland is a dream, she wakes up and shatters the illusion. Alice fully grasps the nonsensical nature of Wonderland when the King interprets the Knaves poem. Alice disputes the Kings attempts to attach meaning to the nonsense words of the poem. Her criticisms are ironic, since throughout her travels she has continually attempted to make sense of the various situations and stories she has encountered. Alice finally understands the futility of trying to make meaning out of her adventures of Wonderland since every part of it is completely incomprehensible. This message is meant not only for Alice but for the readers of Alices Adventures in Wonderland as well. Just as the court complies with the Kings harebrained readings of the poem, Carroll sends a message to those who would

attempt to assign specific meanings to the events. Alices Adventures in Wonderland actively resists definitive interpretation, which accounts for the diversity of the criticism written about the novella. The final scene with Alices sister establishes narrative symmetry and changes the tone of Alices journey from harrowing quest to childhood fantasy. The reintroduction of the calm scene at the riverbank allows the story to close as it began, transforming Wonderland into an isolated episode of fancy. Alices sister ends the novella by changing the tone of Alices story, disc ounting the nightmarish qualities and favoring a dreamy nostalgia for the simple and loving heart of her childhood. The sisters interpretation reduces Alices experience of trauma and trivializes the journey as little more than a strange tale that Ali ce may eventually recount to her own children.

Key Facts
FULL TITLE Alices Adventures in Wonderland AUTHOR Lewis Carroll TYPE OF WORK Novella GENRE Fairy tale; childrens fiction; satire; allegory LANGUAGE English TIME AND PLACE WRITTEN 18621863, Oxford DATE OF FIRST PUBLICATION 1865 PUBLISHER Macmillan & Co. NARRATOR The narrator is anonymous and does not use many words to describe events in the story. POINT OF VIEW The narrator speaks in third person, though occasionally in first and second person. The

narrative follows Alice around on her travels, voicing her thoughts and feelings. TONE Straightforward; avuncular TENSE Past
SETTING (TIME) Victorian era, circa publication date SETTING (PLACE) England, Wonderland PROTAGONIST Alice MAJOR CONFLICT Alice attempts to come to terms with the puzzle of Wonderland as she undergoes

great individual changes while entrenched in Wonderland. RISING ACTION Alice follows the White Rabbit down a well and pursues him through Wonderland.
CLIMAX Alice gains control over her size and enters the garden, where she participates in the trial of the

Knave of Hearts.
FALLING ACTION Alice realizes that Wonderland is a sham and knocks over the playing card court,

causing her to wake up and dispel the dream of Wonderland. THEMES The tragic and inevitable loss of childhood innocence; Life as a meaningless puzzle; Death as a constant and underlying menace MOTIFS Dream; subversion; language; curious, nonsense, and confusing SYMBOLS The garden; the mushroom
FORESHADOWING The Mouses history about Fury and the Mouse foreshadows the trial at the end of

the story.