Alice's Adventures in Wonderland eText - Reading Pointers for Sharper Insight

This eText contains embedded glossary terms and other notes added by our community of educators. Simply click or tap on the yellow highlighted words within the text to see the annotations.
Turn Off

Reading Pointers for Sharper Insight

To enjoy and understand Alice in Wonderland, the reader should note the following:

Lewis Carroll inserts various techniques into the story to make Wonderland incomprehensible for Alice:

The use of humor, parody, and satire pokes fun at politics, power, class-consciousness, and rules of etiquette that were in favor during Carroll's lifetime:

  • the complete authority of the Queen
  • the absurd representations of British history
  • the forced formality of trials and their outcomes
  • the English obsession with proper tea drinking
  • the portrayal of manners
  • the need to comprehend and follow rules which are arbitrary and incomprehensible in order to participate in games

Lewis is also mocking what would be considered a proper education for children, especially girls, during Victorian times:

  • Alice's answers are almost always incorrect.
  • The Duchess says, “You don't know much, and that's a fact.”
  • The Cheshire Cat calls Alice “mad.”
  • Alice says about herself, “But I don't understand.”
  • The Mad Hatter refers to her as “stupid.”
  • The Caterpillar says Alice is “wrong from beginning to end.”
  • She forgets the multiplication table, famous places, facts, and poems.

Note the following thematic concepts:

  • Loss of identity
  • Use of drugs to alter reality
  • What is considered normal or sane
  • Innocence versus power
  • Coming-of-age
  • The importance of play and imagination
  • Riddles and nonsense as part of life
  • Reality as opposed to the absurdity of a dream world
  • Dreams representing common fears
  • Capricious and arbitrary violence