Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a book that’s stood the test of time. The experience you can have reading this at different stages of life is surprising; often you pick up on nuances as an adult that you may not have noticed as a child.
So for this week’s 5 Things About…I’m talking about the lasting qualities of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! Read on to discover 5 things about this wacky book.
1. It’s about a journey from childhood to adulthood.
Lewis Carroll’s most famous novel is loaded with symbolism, but perhaps the one that stands out most is how this strange tale represents Alice’s journey from being a child to becoming an adult woman. Alice’s journey through Wonderland is marked by her desire to find the beautiful garden she glimpses at the beginning of the book. You could argue that the garden represents adulthood and Alice’s coming of age. If you’ve read the book, you know that she does eventually end up there, and is surprised to find that it’s not at all what she expected. This definitely points to adulthood often being completely different from what we picture or expect as children.
Everything that happens to Alice also occurs in a very short time frame. She leaves her sister on the riverbank and returns a short while later (when she awakens from her dream), yet in that small amount of time, a heck of a lot happens. This could represent the wistful briefness of childhood. We spend very little of our lives as children and most of it as adults—childhood is something that is gone in the blink of an eye.
2. It’s about the madness of the world
Like Kurt Vonnegut, Lewis Carroll seemed to posses a very unique view of the world. While life is worth living and enjoying, it is also a strange journey we all take part in. One of my favourite parts of the book is when the Alice tells the Cheshire Cat that she’s not mad and he replies:
The world is a very mad place and you could argue that we’re all mad people just flailing our way through life with no real idea of what we’re doing. As kids we’d look at adults and think they had control over their lives. But do we really? I think as an adult I still don’t have the faintest idea of what life is all about, but hey, at least we’re in this crazy world together!
3. It’s about a strong female figure
For a long time I thought that Alice was a weak, timid character, but when re-reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this time around I realized this is not the case. Lewis Carroll did a brilliant job of writing a strong female character, and it’s impressive to see a young girl stand up for herself the way Alice does throughout the book. She’s got spunk and sass, and it’s totally awesome!
If you really think about it, Alice is a pretty fearless character. She’s not afraid to explore the weird world she’s fallen into. She’s confident in her own abilities to handle problems on her own. And she’s not afraid to speak up when she thinks something is wrong. The moments when she talks back to the Queen of Hearts are especially enjoyable, because this is a child confronting an adult for doing something that isn’t morally fair or right.
4. It’s about Lewis Carroll’s own life
Most writers bring their own life experiences into their work, and Lewis Carroll is no exception. As a child, Carroll had a stutter and he carried this with him into adulthood. It’s easy to imagine the sort of effect this might have on his self-confidence and it’s quite possible he was bullied or mocked as a result. This could be one of the reasons why he developed such a strong imagination and immersed himself into a vivid world like Wonderland.
For Alice, Wonderland is how she deals with the adult world on her own terms, and by extension Carroll might have been doing the same. Is it escapism? Maybe, but we’ve all had those days where we’d rather be in Wonderland, right?
5. It’s best appreciated out loud
Lewis Carroll first began spinning these tales about Alice in Wonderland by telling them to his boss’s children. A lot of us probably have fond memories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland being read aloud to us as kids too! Originally, the storytelling was done verbally and Alice seems intended for this sort of retelling.
Of course, you can read it silently to yourself as you would any other book, but you might find it less entertaining than listening to it being read out loud. I discovered this during my last re-reading where I listened to most of the audiobook as opposed to sitting down and reading it! Although, if you're keen, you can read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in a unique way--from our Alice book poster. It has the entire text from the book on it!
What do you think about these 5 points? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section!