Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lewis Carroll

Original Essay:

In both Alice stories we are exploring ourselves through Alice. The fantasy world is used here to parody the real world while also retaining distance from it. Alice is empowered to view from the outside a world with the same morals and ettiquette as her own, yet different. This lets her question and discover for herself what is right and wrong. The incidents allow her to experience an adult world intellectually through role reversal and imposed absurdity. In this way the stories bridge the gap between the moral and educational tales for children that came before Alice, and the Children's literature we have now.
The incident in Alice with the Mouse in the pool of tears shows why Alice should be careful with what she says, as statements can hurt unintentionally. Later at the court of the Queen of Hearts Alice views injustice, and is able to explore this, first from the point of view of the fearful underdog, trying not to anger the Queen during the croquet match; then later at the Trial, questioning events and openly disagreeing with the monarchs. This event also carries a lesson on learning to speak, showing circumspect phrasing can help achieve a goal.

With Through the Looking Glass, the whole tale is Alice exploring her place in the world as she strives to become Queen. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are used to remind Alice again why she has manners - reiterating the lessons from Alice.

Both stories only run as long as Alice has control of her learning. In both, once she loses control, descending into anger, respectively at "You're nothing but a pack of cards!", and "I'll shake you into a kitten!", she wakes up.

It is only about personal learning - we are also learning with Alice. Carroll doesn't judge, as is shown when he asks us "Which do you think it was?", at the end of Through the Looking Glass.

Works cited:

Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass / Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Lewis Carroll [Kindle ed.]
Through the Looking Glass / Lewis Carroll [Kindle ed.]
Lenny's Alice in Wonderland [site] / Lenny de Rooy (used to discount the drug theory regarding dreams)
How Lewis Carroll invented Alice in Wonderland / Heather Driscoll-Woodford (for understanding why Carroll wrote the books)

Edited and updated essay:

To be added later

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