- 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' Review
- 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' Text
- Questions for Study and Discussion
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most famous and enduring children's classics. The novel is full of whimsical charm, and a feeling for the absurd that is unsurpassed. But, who was Lewis Carroll?
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Overview
The book begins with a young girl, Alice, bored whilst sat by a river, reading a book with her sister. Everything seems perfectly normal and serene; there could be nothing more in keeping with the bourgeois Victorian world in which Carroll lived. Then Alice catches sight of a small white figure, a rabbit dressed in a waistcoat and holding a pocket watch, murmuring to himself that he is late. Alice runs after the rabbit and follows it into a hole. After falling down into the depths of the earth she finds herself in a corridor full of doors. At the end of the corridor there is a tiny door with a tiny key through which Alice can see a beautiful garden that she is desperate to enter. She then spots a bottle labeled "DRINK ME" (which she does), and begins to shrink until she is large enough to fit through the door.
This strange beginning leads to a series of progressively "curiouser and curiouser" events, which see Alice baby-sit a pig, take part in a tea party that is held hostage by time (and so never ends), and engage in a game of croquet in which flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. She meets a number of extravagant and incredibly characters--from the Cheshire Cat (whose habit of making enigmatic pronouncements is only matched by his tendency to disappear) to a caterpillar smoking a hookah, and being decidedly contradictory. She also, famously, meets the Queen of Hearts who has a penchant for execution (almost continually proclaiming of those who she does not like, "Off with their heads").
Carroll's book is episodic and revels more in the situations that it contrives than in any serious attempt at plot or character analysis. Like a series of nonsense poems or stories, created more for their puzzling nature or illogical delightfulness, the events of Alice's adventure are people with incredible but immensely likable characters and a master's feel for the eccentricities of language.
One feels that Carroll is never more at home than when he is playing, punning, or otherwise messing around with the English tongue. Although the book has been interpreted in numerous ways (from a allegory of semiotics theory to a drug-fueled bad trip), perhaps it is this playfulness that has ensured it success over the last century.
Brilliant for children, but with enough hilarity and joy for life in it to please adults too, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is a love book with which to take a brief respite from our over-rational and sometimes dreary world.