“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (often called only “Alice in Wonderland”) is a children fantasy book, written in 1865. The plot has circuit structure, beginning with Alice’s dream, and ending by her waking up, so we can observe all of her adventures in Wonderland as a dream.
By genre, this novel is an example of children fantasy novel, filled with fantastic elements and following the rules of the fantasy genre through the whole book.
Fantastic elements are consisted out of unusual characters, as personified playing cards or the rabbit wearing a tail-coat and a wrist watch. Besides the characters, the rabbit hole in which Alice fell is also an unusual element. The fall itself is described as especially strange and astonishing, because Alice is falling down very slowly, unaware of the passing time or distance, and she was even able to sleep for a while.
This fall can be used as a metaphor for falling into sleep, not just as a representation of a physical fall in another world. We are uncertain of the true meaning of the fall, and that is one of the main fantasy features in this novel. The author is playing with the world of illusions, giving the characters both good and bad features, describing his environment in a manner of caricature.
The plot is unrealistic, but the writer managed to create a convincing world of imagination, suitable for children, giving them an example of imagination.
The story begins in the real world at the river shore, where Alice’s sister reads a book while Alice is bored and sleepy. Besides the beginning, the ending is realistic as well, because the Alice’s sister wakes her from her sleep. Alice is the only real character, alongside with the White Rabbit, while her sister encounters a role of the person who is only assisting in entering and leaving the fantasy world.
A lot of movies and theatrical adaptations are made using this book as an inspiration, where Wonderland is a place of dreams becoming reality, and fantasy is present in every day. The author made everything possible after Alice fell down the rabbit hole, taking her readers with her in making the impossible real. This novel triggers the children’s imagination, and the author of the two-dimensional world conjured up the transition from reality to unreality, while leaving readers interested, excited and impatient.
Theme: Alice is dreaming about fortunate and unfortunate events in the imagined world of Wonderland.
Time: Unspecified summer afternoon
Place: By the river, rabbit hole, Wonderland
Alice was sitting on the river shore, with her sister who was reading an uninteresting book full of letters, without any illustrations in it. Alice was tired of boredom and heat, and while she was thinking about making flower wreaths, she got interrupted by the talking rabbit who passed by, wearing a tail-coat and a watch. While rabbit was criticizing himself for being late, Alice decided to follow him, but he disappeared into the lair of a bush.
Alice followed him into the hole, but she was scared because she fell deeper. She kept on falling into darkness, unaware of the speed, time, and distance of her fall. She kept on thinking that she could end up at the other side of the world, where people were walking at the top of their heads, as in New Zealand. Numerous questions appeared in her mind, and as the dark was becoming lighter, she noticed a lot of objects falling down the hole with her, as bookshelves, closets, clocks, geography maps etc.
She took a jar of orange jam from one of the shelves but soon returned the jar back as it was empty. Alice started thinking about her cat, and started to wonder would the cat be suitable for catching bats. Suddenly she fell on a big pile of leaves, and her fall ended.
Alice landed in a long hallway, at the end of which she saw a White Rabbit leaving in a hurry. She tried to follow him, so she entered a long, dimmed room with a lot of doors in it. After seeing a key on a glass table, she tried opening the doors with it, but the key wasn’t fitting any of them. Finally, at the end of the room behind the curtain, she found small doors who were easily opened with the key, but she was too big to walk through. The door led into a beautiful garden, filled with flowers and water fountains.
From that moment on, all the impossible things begin on happening. Alice returned to the glass desk, where she found a glass bottle with “Drink me” note. After drinking the potion, she shrunk enough to fit the door, but soon she realized that she forgot the key at the glass table, so she started crying until she found a biscuit in a glass box.
The message on the glass box said “Eat me”, so Alice ate the cookie, growing in height until she hit the ceiling with her head. She started to cry again, bursting into a lot of tears, aware that now she is too big to enter the garden.
Soon she heard tapping sounds and saw a White Rabbit wearing white gloves and a fan, talking about him being late to see the Dutchess. Alice spoke to him, and he got really scared of her, throwing the gloves and fan while he was running away. Alice took those things, put gloves on her hands and started cooling herself with a fan.
Suddenly, she started shrinking again, so she took the key and left all the other things when she was the exact size for passing through the doors. She found herself in a pond of salty water, made out of her tears. She had to swim and also met a lot of animals swimming in water as well.
A lot of ducks, frogs, mice were swimming while eagles, owls, and parrots were flying. She finally got to the shore, where she met more animals, as turkeys, colorful lizard, giant frog, bears, bunnies and a lot of different birds as well. While she was shaking off the water of her clothes, a White Rabbit appeared and told her to hurry up and report to the Dutchess who probably has some assignment for her.
Alice was very surprised as the White Rabbit kept on explaining to her that she has to work something and that he is overwhelmed with work as well. Alice replied he treats her like a servant, which made White Rabbit run away, and a caterpillar who was listening to their conversation fainting. Alice used this opportunity for trying to escape, but she was too small, shorter than the leaves of grass.
At the top of one mushroom was a caterpillar smoking a hookah, who advised Alice telling her the Dutchess isn’t important at all, and the Queen is ruling the army of paper playing cards. She also warned Alice that the White Rabbit will try to dress her using the leaves, and the Mad Hatter is boiling rocks.
Alice also met a smiling Siamese cat sitting at the nearest tree. The cat got offended by Alice being surprised with her ability to laugh, so she apologized for the cat who warned her that she’ll never get an invitation for visiting the Queen. Alice kept going and asked about the White Rabbit all the other animals she met on the way. Animals didn’t know where he was, but somehow she found him on her own.
After seeing the White Rabbit, she met the fish who took Alice to the Dutchess. The Dutchess was throwing meat,pots, pans and skillets while she yelled at her servants at the same time. Dutchess told Alice to get ready for visiting the Queen, but fish was mocking the Dutchess that the Queen will never let her near. Fish magically turned into a swallow and left after Dutchess threatened to eat her, so Alice and the Dutchess went together to see the Queen.
After entering the courtyard, Alice was surprised by the look of the castle, and the playing card army marching around as well. They announced the arrival of the Queen, followed by her King. Seeing the Dutchess, Queen ordered the army to put her in prison, but the Dutchess presented Alice as an exotic animal who she brought as a royal gift.
Alice got offended, telling them she attended the school, and is capable of writing, reading and reciting various poems. The Queen evaluated her abilities as useless, giving her a task of watching the flowers who forgot to bloom. Alice got angry and declined Queen’s order, wishing to grow back to her normal size and leave this crazy land. Dutchess ordered her to calm down before she provokes the Queen.
As she entered the other part of the yard where she was assigned to her duty, Alice met a lot of turtles and a lion with wings. One old turtle was dancing with the lion a rather funny dance, and they made Alice burst in laughter, although the turtle was crying the whole time.
Alice found out that the turtle lost the bet of winning the White Rabbit in the race, so she had to give him her hat, her symbol of dignity. Alice tried to cheer her up, but the turtle remained broken-hearted as the Hatter Bill refused to make her a new hat.
Queen decided to put Bill the Hatter on a trial due to his laziness. Soon, the trumpets announced the proclamation of a verdict. Bill appeared in the courthouse with a cup of tea in his hand, refusing of letting it go, but decisive to drink it in the name of the King, making the soldiers laugh.
The White Rabbit was in charge for reading the verdict, and Bill the Hatter got a sentence of spending a week behind the bars. He reminded the Queen he can’t make hats in prison, but she replied that she is capable of surviving a week without a new hat. The Queen spotted Alice and ordered for her to be imprisoned and beheaded as well.
The White Rabbit tried to talk some sense into the Queen, explaining that the Alice isn’t an animal, yet she is a part of a species referred as a “child”, and he has seen a lot of them in a land very far away.
While he was talking, Alice saw a bottle with a sign “Drink me”, so she did, so she went on growing so tall that she broke the roof of the courthouse with her head. Queen ordered the army to arrest her, but Alice shook them off and told the Queen she is going home.
Alice heard the voice of her sister waking her up and telling her she had enough of sleep. Her sister was still reading her book at the river shore, and Alice was lucky for waking up in the ordinary world, but also feeling a bit sad because of her leaving the Wonderland.
She told her sister about her vivid dream and then went home for a cup of tea. Her sister closed the book she was reading and started to think about Alice, her stories, and her noble heart.
Her sister realized that Alise will grow up into person fond of children and become a woman who will enjoy in telling tales and fairy tales to them, perhaps even the story about Wonderland as well. She will talk about her childhood and always care for other living beings.
The main character in this novel, a real girl who had a dream that helped readers enter the magical world of Wonderland. Alice is a kind-hearted girl with a powerful imagination, leading us through her adventurous inner world filled both with laughter and tears.
Dream alone isn’t helpful enough for understanding Alice, but we find a lot about her from her sister’s thoughts at the end of the novel. Alice loves her surrounding, has a sense of making stories and she is curious, lovable and empathic as well.
She is fully capable for distinction right from wrong, and her innocent and pure heart communicates in perfect harmony with the world around her, regardless if that is a real world or the Wonderland.
The character of Alice’s sister helps us entering and leaving the world of fantasy together with Alice, and her thoughts are also a valid source for knowing Alice better.
The White Rabbit
A character who appears in Alice’s dream, dressed in a tailcoat with had and a watch. Always in a hurry and overwhelmed with a lot of work, he isn’t approving the waste of time, at least that is what he is saying. Alice followed him into the rabbit hole.
He remains loyal to the Dutchess, seeking her attention at all time. The White Rabbit was in charge of reading the verdict of Bill the Hatter, and he keeps putting the extra work on others whenever he has a chance. He thinks of himself as the busiest person, and he is responsible for saving the Alice from getting arrested.
The notorious Queen of Wonderland who is the main subject of all the conversations and hard to reach, at the end is completely irrelevant. She is a plain paper queen from the playing card who pretends to be someone of the greater value.
She has her paper King by her side, and an army of paper soldiers as well. Her only role is giving orders on arresting or beheading people, and providing suitable work assignments for newcomers. She changes her hats daily and appears to be fierce and brave.
The main subject of White Rabbit’s loyalty and admiration. Alice got the impression of her being an ad person because the Dutchess keep throwing things around and yelled when they first met.
Dutchess seeks a private audience with the Queen, who isn’t receiving her until she brings Alice with her. Also, fond of bossing others around by giving them some tasks, known for her bad temper and impatience.
Lewis Carroll Biography
Lewis Carroll, alias Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born in Daresbury, 27th of January, 1832.
Besides being a well-known author, he was recognized as an excellent photographer, logician and mathematician as well. His story about Alice and her amazing adventures in Wonderland remained a classic for many generations. He wrote a story ” Chasing the Mirror”, and some other mathematician works as well.
Lewis Carroll received his education at the University of Oxford, where he remained as a Math professor from 1855.-1881, becoming an Anglican priest at that time as well.
Only four years later he begins telling the stories to the University dean’s daughter. Later, he got those storied published under the name “The Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. The novel was a huge success, followed by the equally successful “Chasing the Mirror”.
It’s been speculated that the name Alice is derivative from Alice Liddel, the name mentioned at the end of “Chasing the Mirror”.
Lewis Carrol died in Guilford, 1898.