Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a “children’s book” by Lewis Carroll, who was born as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in Cheshire on January 27, 1832. When he was 11 he and his family (7 sisters and 3 brothers) moved to Yorkshire which remained their home for the next 25 years. At 12 he was sent away to a small private school at nearby Richmond, where he appears to have been happy and settled. But in 1845, young Dodgson moved on to Rugby School, where he was evidently less happy. He left Rugby at the end of 1849 and, after an interval which remains unexplained, went on in January 1851 to Oxford.

In 1856 he published his first piece of work, a little romantic poem called Solitude, under the name that would make him famous: Lewis Carroll and apart from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland(1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice found there(1872) he published the books The Hunting of the Snark(1876) and his last novel the two volume Sylvie and Bruno (1889 and 1893).Dodgson died in Guildford of violent pneumonia, on January 14, 1898.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865, under the pen-name Dodgson had first used some nine years earlier - Lewis Carroll. The book tells the story of a little girl who experiences bizarre adventures in a surreal world.

In the beginning Alice encounters a White Rabbit with pink eyes saying to itself: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”. She follows the Rabbit through a large rabbit-hole under the hedge and this is where her extraordinary journey starts. After falling down a well Alice finds herself in a long, low hall which has doors all round that are all locked. To be able to get through a rat-hole sized door she drinks a potion that makes her shrink but because she forgot the golden key for the small door and she can’t reach it anymore due to her size she decides to eat a cake. Sadly this cake doesn’t make her grow again at first but after she finished off the cake her neck starts to grow enormously that’s why she begins to cry. Then she notices the White Rabbit again running nervously through the hall dropping white kid gloves and a fan on the floor. That’s when she realizes that she is shrinking again due to the fan so she drops it and that way avoids drowning in her own tears she cried before. While swimming in her own tears she meets a French mouse which she has a conversation with and follows to a caucus of animals where she attends a race. As she is left by the animals and the White Rabbit walks by she follows him into his house where she drinks from a little bottle which results in her growing rapidly again. She even fills the whole room, a fact the Rabbit certainly notices and due to which he rounds up a lot of his friend of who nobody is able to solve the problem. But Alice manages herself: she eats a piece of cake and as soon as she is able to get through the doors she does so and runs out in a thick wood. There she meets, after a short encounter with a giant puppy, a caterpillar. He is very impolite but he finally helps her to get back her usual size by eating from the mushroom the caterpillar is sitting on. This helps her to get for example into the house of the Duchess in which bizarre things happen with the Duchess’ baby: it turns into a pig. But Alice takes it away from the Duchess and her cook because she considers them to be too rude to rise a baby. Outside she puts the little creature down and meets the famous Grinning Cat which she ask for the way. With the advices of the Grinning Cat as a basis she decides to visit the March Hare who is currently holding a tea-party with the Hatter (the other option the Grinning Cat had given her before it vanished). And as the chapter is titled it is “a mad tea-party”. After several bizarre things happen she leaves them and soon finds herself back in the hall she was at in the beginning. But this time she is able to get into the garden she wanted to at the first time. There she finds playing cards as gardeners for the Queen of Hearts who she later meets and whom she is playing a croquet match with. The Queen is a very choleric woman that wants to behead everybody even for small faults. Anyway after that experience she is taken to the Mock Turtle by a gryphon. The turtle tells her its sad story (one of the wittiest parts in the book) and the mystery about the Lobster Quadrille. When she returns to the land of the Queen of Hearts she attends a trial against the Knave of Hearts. Of course this trial is as strange as every adventure she had on her trip to Wonderland and when she gets very angry in the end of it she suddenly wakes up.

The main character is Alice, the preteen aged girl. Although there are many (famous) characters (the Grinning Cat, the March Hare, the Hatter, the Queen of Hearts,…) she’s the one that dominates the whole story with her childish naivety, her unwilling rudeness when she talks to animals (e.g. she always confronts the French mouse with stories about her cat Dinah), and her desire to explore that surreal world. 18392oic76xtr4p

The other characters are all exaggerated and repeat certain phrases all the time e.g. the Duchess with her “moral” stuff or the Queen of Hearts with her orders to behead nearly everybody while in fact nobody is executed.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not only a children’s book but a masterpiece of literature. It contains wordplays that even non-English people can easily understand although I have to admit that I don’t know most of the poems “quoted” in the story. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most entertaining reads I ever had also because there wasn’t even the slightest chance for boredom to come up due to the bizarre things happening. The Wonderland is a totally upside-down world in which everything happens different to what we are used to and that (the fantastic wordplays and the wired characters) is what makes this book such a great joyful read.

Florian Herzele

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