Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Welcome to Wonderland Week, a whole wingding for Alice and her wacky wandering.  A fiesta for a flaky females foolish frolic through frenzied fantasy.  A celebration of comical, certifiable craziness.  A memorialization of the mentally manipulated misadventures of a maiden, magic and madness.  This week you can look forward to reviews and discussions about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as me hosting my own tea party here at the G.O.B..  Today, instead of a typical formulaic review I would like to do more of an open discussion format.  And really, just talk about what this story means to me, if that’s okay with you? If not, here’s a link to a dancing man in a horse mask cooking wild mushrooms.

“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen name Lewis Carroll.  Published in 1865, received mostly poor reviews, with illustrations by John Tenniel gaining the praise.  The story goes that Dodgson improvised the original tale for the three daughters of Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University Henry Lidell, on a boating trip. The youngest of which, Alice, pleaded with Dodgson to write the story for her.  Three years later, he had a manuscript, complete with the illustrations provided by Tenniel.  Alice’s Adventures began gaining popularity by the time the sequel, Through the Looking Glass was complete.  By the end of the 19th century, Sir Walter Besant wrote about the story: “a book of that extremely rare kind which will belong to all the generations to come until the language becomes obsolete”.  A premonition that has proven true over a hundred years later.

There are many metaphors and theories that can be pulled out of the story.  I often look at Alice’s story, as one of aging and accepting changes.  Food being used as the clearest representation of ‘growing up’ as well as her quarrels with the Red Queen.  Alice is heading down the ‘rabbit hole’ of an unclear, undefined path, questioning herself on where to go, and what should she do.  Much like the popular term, ‘adulting’, that most of us struggled with during those transitional years. It is all of the chaos that changes her within, as by the end of the story she is seemingly physically unchanged, but internally, and emotionally she has an entirely perspective having ‘lived’ so much.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” 

As fun as it can be to dissect a story and find these deeper meanings, Alice’s Adventures is also the best example of literary nonsense as a genre and can fairly be treated as such.  From the moment Alice slips down into this ‘wonderland’, nothing can be found that makes sense.  Confusion, misunderstanding, disorder, and anarchy rule this underworld.  There are examples throughout of tales, rhymes, and dialogue with irrational ideas, if an idea at all.  While there is a plot, the path from the beginning to the end is discombobulated from typical literature.  Taking us down unnecessary paths, and distracting us with misshapen rhymes.  There is an intentional madness that questions if the story is even supposed to have a purpose.

“Tut, tut, child!  Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

Fair enough, clearly the author was trying to teach something through his children’s tale.  But, I feel it is not so cut and dry, or obvious as something like, everyone struggles with growing up, and we all fake it till we make it.  Through the book Alice is constantly transitioning from large to small, or being the teacher to being taught.  She is searching for who she is, and who she should be at the same time.  So, while it is important to be adaptable to the world around us, we should never lose who we are; growing up can be difficult, hold on to the wonder of youth.  Lewis Carroll is teaching us that there is no point to growing up if you don’t have fun along the way.  A ‘stop and smell the roses’ message that is of deep purpose for me, it’s ideas like this as a personal mantra that has kept me from letting stress, work, or money control my life, and I live much happier for it.

“‘Be what you would seem to be’–or if you’d like it put 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.”

What truly separates this book from all the others, the reason it is my all-time favourite story, the creativity!  To me, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a century ahead of its time.  The worlds most original, one of a kind journey.  Repeated countless times but never matched.  Whenever I read, talk about, think about, this book I am inspired by the visionary way it was crafted.  Being creative has become a main purpose that drives me, mostly thanks to the way this book and the Disney 1951 animated film captivated my youth.  I became a chef, to create.  I learned guitar, to create.  I write, to create.  Always looking at Lewis Carroll’s work as the epitome of creative expression.

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

No matter what Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland means to you, it cannot be denied as one of the most timeless, outrageous children’s tales.  It has become so ingrained in pop culture that references can be found in every possible media.  If you have yet to read through the original works I would highly recommend doing yourself the favour.  The madness may seem overwhelming, but as it takes hold of you, you may need to check your own sanity as things begin to make too much sense.  And then you can ask yourself that powerful question, “who are you?”

Thanks booknerds, “why is a raven like a writing desk?”


20 Comments Add yours

  1. My favourite of all your posts yet! 😍 I’m Alice obsessed and my daughter is going through her own phase as well. Her room decor is inspired by Carroll’s Alice (Not Disney’s) and she loves it. She is constantly “eating” things and shrinking or growing lol. She’s turning 3. I hope to encourage her to think of many “impossible things” before breakfast daily 😉


    1. Green Onion says:

      That’s pretty amazing, I dont have much Alice stuff, which is unfortunate. I’m extra glad you liked my post considering you are such a fan of the book. Thanks!


  2. AndrewinBelfast says:

    I loved this post. So good! I think we all need a little bit of Wonderland in our lives these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Thank you! That’s true, a little Wonderland any day is a good idea!


  3. So much love for this right now! Alice in Wonderland is an absolute favorite of mine that carried me through a challenging childhood. I will always hold it dear. I collect all things Wonderland and have my entryway decorated in it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Oh, I’m so glad you liked the post than! Wonderland has been pretty dear to me too. I have an antique copy from 1912 that is one of my most prized possessions

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I would love to own that!!! All of my originals were lost during a messy divorce. A dear friend sent me a lovely edition recently though 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Green Onion says:

        Oh, that is so sad. Though, there are many beautiful editions of Wonderland, any copy is a great copy

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree! And I have to be honest.. losing a few books was painful but well worth leaving him behind 😉 just saying 😛


  4. Marta says:

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and also the first classic I ever read in english, and I really love it too! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      First English classic! That’s pretty sweet, great choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Weezelle says:

    I was reading dr suess a few days ago and had similar thoughts about the total nonsense and whimsy- made up words and genius creativity- which sends you into a pleasant topsy turvey, a little bit like Alice….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Completely! Good point. There’s also a few Bob Dylan songs that bring the same fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahhh I love this book so much!!! I agree that it’s so creative!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. chbrown6 says:

    In my young adult literature class, we did an extensive look into Lewis Carroll’s life and ‘Alice’. Disturbing at times; yet it was extremely intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christy Luis says:

    Outrageous and timeless indeed. Great review, thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Zezee says:

    I’m the odd one out. I’ve never completed Alice in Wonderland. I’ll have to give it another go. Tried it as a kid n a teen but couldn’t get into it.
    I love your review of it though.
    ” A fiesta for a flaky females foolish frolic through frenzied fantasy.  A celebration of comical, certifiable craziness.  A memorialization of the mentally manipulated misadventures of a maiden, magic and madness.” Love that. I try to say it all very quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

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