|Alice's Adventures in Wonderland|
|Published on||26 November 1865|
|N/A||Through the Looking-Glass|
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.
Alice was published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat, on 4 July 1862 (this popular date of the "golden afternoon" might be a confusion or even another Alice-tale, for that particular day was cool, cloudy and rainy), up the Isis with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church): Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849) ("Prima" in the book's prefatory verse); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852) ("Secunda" in the prefatory verse); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853) ("Tertia" in the prefatory verse).
The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. During the trip the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.
To add the finishing touches he researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children—particularly the children of George MacDonald. He added his own illustrations but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.
On 26 November 1864 he gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as "A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer's Day". Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson when he wrote a more elaborate copy by hand.
But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party.
Chapter 1 - Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is feeling bored while sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled "DRINK ME", the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. A cake with "EAT ME" on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling.
Chapter 2 – The Pool of Tears: Alice is unhappy and cries as her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again due to a fan she had picked up, Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him in elementary French (thinking he may be a French mouse) but her opening gambit "Où est ma chatte?" (that is "Where is my cat?") offends the mouse.
Chapter 3 – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The Mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her (moderately ferocious) cat.
Chapter 4 – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess's gloves and fan. Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, he orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes. Alice eats them, and they reduce her again in size.
Chapter 5 – Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a blue Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the Caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a Pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.
Chapter 6 – Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess's Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby (but not the cook or grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.
Chapter 7 – A Mad Tea-Party: Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories, including the famous 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?'. The Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because Time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.
Chapter 8 – The Queen's Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase "Off with his head!" which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject. Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.
Chapter 9 – The Mock Turtle's Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice's request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and she introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which the Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.
Chapter 10 – Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster". The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.
Chapter 11 – Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court's trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The Dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the Dormouse's accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she cannot help it. Meanwhile, witnesses at the trial include the Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess's Cook.
Chapter 12 – Alice's Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 ("All persons more than a mile high to leave the court"), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards; just as they start to swarm over her. Alice's sister wakes her up for tea, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.
The following is a list of main characters in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- The White Rabbit
- The Mouse
- The Dodo
- The Lory
- The Eaglet
- The Duck
- Bill the Lizard
- The Caterpillar
- The Duchess
- The Cheshire Cat
- The March Hare
- The Hatter
- The Dormouse
- The Queen of Hearts
- The Knave of Hearts
- The King of Hearts
- The Gryphon
- The Mock Turtle
In The Annotated Alice, Martin Gardner provides background information for the characters. The members of the boating party that first heard Carroll's tale show up in Chapter 3 ("A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale"). Alice Liddell herself is there, while Carroll is caricatured as the Dodo (because Dodgson stuttered when he spoke, he sometimes pronounced his last name as Dodo-Dodgson). The Duck refers to Canon Duckworth, and the Lory and Eaglet to Alice Liddell's sisters Lorina and Edith.
Bill the Lizard may be a play on the name of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. One of Tenniel's illustrations in Through the Looking-Glass — the 1871 sequel to Alice — depicts the character referred to as the "Man in White Paper" (whom Alice meets as a fellow passenger riding on the train with her) as a caricature of Disraeli, wearing a paper hat. The illustrations of the Lion and the Unicorn (also in Looking-Glass) also bear a striking resemblance to Tenniel's Punch illustrations of Gladstone and Disraeli.
The Hatter is most likely a reference to Theophilus Carter, a furniture dealer known in Oxford for his unorthodox inventions. Tenniel apparently drew the Hatter to resemble Carter, on a suggestion of Carroll's. The Dormouse tells a story about three little sisters named Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie. These are the Liddell sisters: Elsie is L.C. (Lorina Charlotte), Tillie is Edith (her family nickname is Matilda), and Lacie is an anagram of Alice.
The Mock Turtle speaks of a Drawling-master, "an old conger eel", who came once a week to teach "Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils". This is a reference to the art critic John Ruskin, who came once a week to the Liddell house to teach the children drawing, sketching, and painting in oils. (The children did, in fact, learn well; Alice Liddell, for one, produced a number of skilful watercolours.)
The Mock Turtle also sings "Turtle Soup". This is a parody of a song called "Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star", which was performed as a trio by Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell for Lewis Carroll in the Liddell home during the same summer in which he first told the story of Alice's Adventures Under Ground.
Poems and songsEdit
Carroll wrote multiple poems and songs for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, including:
- "All in the golden afternoon..."—the prefatory verse, an original poem by Carroll that recalls the rowing expedition on which he first told the story of Alice's adventures underground
- "How Doth the Little Crocodile"—a parody of Isaac Watts' nursery rhyme, "Against Idleness and Mischief"
- "The Mouse's Tale"—an example of concrete poetry
- "You Are Old, Father William"—a parody of Robert Southey's "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them"
- The Duchess's lullaby, "Speak roughly to your little boy..."—a parody of David Bates' "Speak Gently"
- "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat"—a parody of Jane Taylor's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"
- "The Lobster Quadrille"—a parody of Mary Botham Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly"
- "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster"—a parody of Isaac Watts' "The Sluggard"
- "Beautiful Soup"—a parody of James M. Sayles's "Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star"
- "The Queen of Hearts"—an actual nursery rhyme
- "They told me you had been to her..."—the White Rabbit's evidence
Writing style and themesEdit
Most of the book's adventures may have been based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church, e.g., the "Rabbit Hole," which symbolised the actual stairs in the back of the main hall in Christ Church. A carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, may have provided inspiration for the tale.
Since Carroll was a mathematician at Christ Church, it has been suggested that there are many references and mathematical concepts in both this story and Through the Looking-Glass; examples include:
- In chapter 1, "Down the Rabbit-Hole", in the midst of shrinking, Alice waxes philosophic concerning what final size she will end up as, perhaps "going out altogether, like a candle"; this pondering reflects the concept of a limit.
- In chapter 2, "The Pool of Tears", Alice tries to perform multiplication but produces some odd results: "Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is—oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate!" This explores the representation of numbers using different bases and positional numeral systems: 4 × 5 = 12 in base 18 notation, 4 × 6 = 13 in base 21 notation, and 4 × 7 could be 14 in base 24 notation. Continuing this sequence, going up three bases each time, the result will continue to be less than 20 in the corresponding base notation. (After 19 the product would be 1A, then 1B, 1C, 1D, and so on.)
- In chapter 7, "A Mad Tea-Party", the March Hare, the Hatter, and the Dormouse give several examples in which the semantic value of a sentence A is not the same value of the converse of A (for example, "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"); in logic and mathematics, this is discussing an inverse relationship.
- Also in chapter 7, Alice ponders what it means when the changing of seats around the circular table places them back at the beginning. This is an observation of addition on the ring of integers modulo N.
- The Cheshire Cat fades until it disappears entirely, leaving only its wide grin, suspended in the air, leading Alice to marvel and note that she has seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat. Deep abstraction of concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, abstract algebra, and the beginnings of mathematical logic, was taking over mathematics at the time Dodgson was writing. Dodgson's delineation of the relationship between cat and grin can be taken to represent the very concept of mathematics and number itself. For example, instead of considering two or three apples, one may easily consider the concept of 'apple', upon which the concepts of 'two' and 'three' may seem to depend. A far more sophisticated jump is to consider the concepts of 'two' and 'three' by themselves, just like a grin, originally seemingly dependent on the cat, separated conceptually from its physical object.
Mathematician Melanie Bayley asserted in the magazine of The New Scientist that Dodgson wrote Alice in Wonderland in its final form as a scathing satire on new modern mathematics that were emerging in the mid-19th century.
It has been suggested by several people, including Martin Gardner and Selwyn Goodacre, that Dodgson had an interest in the French language, choosing to make references and puns about it in the story. It is most likely that these are references to French lessons—a common feature of a Victorian middle-class girl's upbringing. For example, in the second chapter Alice posits that the Mouse may be French. She therefore chooses to speak the first sentence of her French lesson-book to it: "Où est ma chatte?" ("Where is my cat?"). In Henri Bué's French translation, Alice posits that the Mouse may be Italian and speaks Italian to it.
Pat's "Digging for apples" could be a cross-language pun, as pomme de terre (literally; "apple of the earth") means potato and pomme means apple, which little English girls studying French would easily guess.
In the second chapter, Alice initially addresses the mouse as "O Mouse", based on her memory of the noun declensions "in her brother's Latin Grammar, 'A mouse – of a mouse – to a mouse – a mouse – O mouse!'" These words correspond to the first five of Latin's six cases, in a traditional order established by medieval grammarians: mus (nominative), muris (genitive), muri (dative), murem (accusative), (O) mus (vocative). The sixth case, mure (ablative) is absent from Alice's recitation.
In the eighth chapter, three cards are painting the roses on a rose tree red, because they had accidentally planted a white-rose tree that the Queen of Hearts hates. Red roses symbolised the English House of Lancaster, while white roses were the symbol for their rival House of York. This scene is an allusion to the Wars of the Roses.
Eating and devouringEdit
Carina Garland notes how the world is "expressed via representations of food and appetite", naming Alice's frequent desire for consumption (of both food and words), her 'Curious Appetites'. Often, the idea of eating coincides to make gruesome images. After the riddle "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?", the Hatter claims that Alice might as well say, "I see what I eat...I eat what I see" and so the riddle’s solution, put forward by Boe Birns, could be that "A raven eats worms; a writing desk is worm-eaten"; this idea of food encapsulates idea of life feeding on life, for the worm is being eaten and then becomes the eater – a horrific image of mortality.
Nina Auerbach discusses how the novel revolves around eating and drinking which "motivates much of her [Alice's] behaviour", for the story is essentially about things "entering and leaving her mouth." The animals of Wonderland are of particular interest, for Alice's relation to them shifts constantly because, as Lovell-Smith states, Alice's changes in size continually reposition her in the food chain, serving as a way to make her acutely aware of the 'eat or be eaten' attitude that permeates Wonderland.
The manuscript was illustrated by Dodgson himself who added 37 illustrations—printed in a facsimile edition in 1887. John Tenniel provided 42 wood engraved illustrations for the published version of the book. The first print run was destroyed (or sold to America) at Carroll's request because he was dissatisfied with the quality. The book was reprinted and published in 1866.
John Tenniel's illustrations of Alice do not portray the real Alice Liddell, who had dark hair and a short fringe.
Alice has provided a challenge for other illustrators, including those of 1907 by Charles Pears and the full series of colour plates and line-drawings by Harry Rountree published in the (inter-War) Children's Press (Glasgow) edition. Other significant illustrators include: Arthur Rackham (1907), Willy Pogany (1929), Mervyn Peake (1946), Ralph Steadman (1967), Salvador Dalí (1969), Graham Overden (1969), Max Ernst (1970) and Peter Blake (1970).
Reception by viewersEdit
The book Alice in Wonderland failed to be named in an 1888 poll of the most popular children's stories. Generally it received poor reviews with reviewers giving more credit to Tenniel's illustrations than to Carroll's story. At the release of Through the Looking-Glass, the second Alice tale gained in popularity and by the end of the 19th century Sir Walter Besant wrote that Alice in Wonderland "was a book of that extremely rare kind which will belong to all the generations to come until the language becomes obsolete".
| Source texts|
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
Alice - White Rabbit - Bill - Caterpillar - Duchess - Cheshire Cat - March Hare - The Hatter - Dormouse - Queen of Hearts - King of Hearts - Knave of Hearts - Gryphon - Mock Turtle - Red Queen - White Queen - Red King - White King - White Knight - Tweedledum and Tweedledee - The Walrus and the Carpenter - Humpty Dumpty - The Lion and the Unicorn - Jabberwocky - Bandersnatch - Jubjub bird