Lewis Carrolls Wonderland is a queer little
universe where a not so ordinary girl is faced
with the contradicting nature of the fantastic
creatures who live there. Alices Adventures in
Wonderland is a childs struggle to survive in the
condescending world of adults. The conflict
between child and adult gives direction to Alices
adventures and controls all the outstanding
features of the work- Alices character, her
relationship with other characters, and the
dialogue. Alice in Wonderland is on one hand so
nonsensical that children sometimes feel ashamed
to have been interested in anything so silly
(Masslich 107). The underlying message of Alices
Adventures in Wonderland is a rejection of The
character of Alice is not at all like what you
would find in a typical childrens book. The
character of Alice herself is a bit puzzling, even
to the modern child, because it does not fit a
How much more unusual she must have
seemed to Victorian children, used to girl angels
fated for death (in Dickens, Stowe, and others),
or to impossibly virtuous little ladies, or to
naughty girls who eventually reform in response to
heavy adult pressure… But Alice is neither
naughty nor overly nice. Her curiosity leads her
into her initial adventure and most of the latter
ones in the book… (Leach 119). As Alice makes
her way through Wonderland , she is faced with
many pompous personalities that have their own
ways of thinking and do not understand why Alice
does not agree with their views. Alice takes into
consideration what each character says.
becoming quite confused and disgruntled she learns
that everyone in Wonderland is in fact mad. Once
she has learned this she politely rejects all
offers made by characters and tells them how
things are in her mind. More often than not, she
is chastised for her opinions, but soon learns to
take the characters criticisms with stride.
Likewise, a child tends to see adults in the same
light. The child know the way that things are in
their own mind, but when they share their ideas
with their parents or other adults they are often
told that their ideas are childish and wrong just
as Alice was. The reader can see that Alice
understands that all of the creatures in
Wonderland are wrong. Nevertheless there is in her
world the underlying joyful certainty that they
are incompetent, absurd, and only a pack of cards
In Alices Adventures in Wonderland Carroll shows
the ridiculous nature of adults through his
The amiable Cheshire Cat
is the only character to help Alice in her
struggle through Wonderland and admit that he is
mad. Oh you cant help that, were all mad here. Im
mad. Youre mad (Carroll ). All other characters
are pointlessly didactic and feel the need to
constantly snap at her, preach to her, confuse
her, or ignore her. The Duchess, for instance, is
inconsistent, unpleasant, pointless, and is of no
help to Alice in her predicament.
mustard both bite. And the moral of that is Birds
of a feather flock together (Carroll ). Many
children see adults, especially those that are of
authority, as having the same nature as the
Duchess. The arbitrary , bloody Queen of Hearts is
an ineffective, abysmally stupid person.
…sentence first – verdict afterwards (Carroll ).
The bustling, spruce, worried Rabbit is at heart a
poor, foolish, timid creature. Oh dear! Oh dear! I
shall be too late (Carroll )! No matter how hard
Alice tries to talk to the Rabbit he always
ignores her. Children often feel as though the
adults around them simply ignore them also.
Throughout the book Carroll sympathetically
describes the childs feelings of frustration at
the illogical way of the characters (adults).
…she had quite a long argument with the Lory,
who at last turned sulky, and would only say, `I
am older than you, and must know better`…
Plain and simple the characters in
Alices Adventures in Wonderland are not consistent
and they are not fair, but they are in a word
Dynamic: creatures not merely of the authors
imagination, but a permanent stimulus to
imagination Carroll shows Alices frustration with
the characters puzzling use of language. This is a
heightening of the effect which an adult life must
have on a child like Alice. And the moral of that
is- `Be what you would seem to be` – or if you
would like to put it more simply- ` Never imagine
yourself not to be otherwise than what it might
appear to others that what you were or might have
been was not otherwise than what you had been
would have appeared to them to be otherwise
(Carroll ). As a typical rule, adults tend to
speak in a fancy language all their own not only
to impress their colleagues but also to inspire
their children. It comes off, in the eyes of a
child, as useless babbling that should be cut out
all together. Alice simply chooses to put up with
all the commotion put on by the characters around
her so that she can get out of Wonderland.
Adventures in Wonderland is a parallel of a child
lost in the confusing world of adults. Alices
dilemmas are the same as what most children go
through each day. Each character in Alices
Adventures in Wonderland illistrates a diffrent
charactristic of an adult and his or her life. It
is hard to really criticize Carrolls work because
of the world that it is supposed to portray. There
seems to be a feeling that real criticism would
involve psychoanalysis, and that the results would
be so improper as to destroy the atmosphere of the
book altogether (Empson 112). Bibliography: Works
Boas, Guy Alice Blackwoods Magazine
(1937) 740-46. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century
Literature Criticisms. Ed. Laurie Harris. Detroit:
Gale Research, 1982.
2: 114. 2. Carroll, Lewis
Alices Adventures in Wonderland London: J. M. Dent
& Sons LTD,1865. 3.
Empson, William Alice in
Wonderland Some Versions of Pastoral (1974).
812-14 Rpt. in Nineteenth- Century Literature
Criticisms. Ed. Laurie Harris. Detroit: Gale
Research, 1982. 2: 112- 14.
4. Harris, Laurie, ed.
Nineteenth- Century Literature Criticisms.
Detroit: Gale Research, 1982. 76 vols. 5. Hubbell,
George Shelton The Sanity of Wonderland The
Sewanee Review (1927) 387-98. Rpt.
Century Literature Criticisms. Ed. Laurie Harris.
Detroit: Gale Research, 1982. 2: 109. 6. Leach,
Elsie Alice in Wonderland The Victorian Newsletter
in Nineteenth- Century Literature
Criticisms. Ed. Laurie Harris. Detroit: Gale
Research, 1982. 2: 119. 7.
Masslich, George B. A
Book Within a Book The English Journal (1921)
119-29. Rpt. in Nineteenth- Century Literature
Criticisms. Ed. Laurie Harris.
Research, 1982. 2: 107..