What do you think was author Lewis Carroll's purpose in writing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?
Lewis Carroll himself identified his purpose as simply to entertain a young girl, Alice Liddell who was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church College. He told this story to Alice and her...
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While Lewis Carroll's original intent was simply entertainment, the book was written during a time of dramatic change in literature. This novel was published in 1865, during the age of Romanticism. The American revolution brought about the end of the strictly monitored works dictated by the elite upper class and ushered in a more egalitarian and liberal mindset. The fantastical and whimsical Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a perfect example of the new age of romanticism in literature. Previous to this movement, literary works had been focused on power and reason, a stark departure from Carroll's imaginative work.
Additionally, despite his purely entertaining intent in writing this novel, he uses anthropomorphized characters to highlight some of the more ridiculous societal conventions. He pokes fun of the Queen's grandiosity and sense of entitlement when the Queen of Hearts shouts, "Off with their heads!" to nearly every character she encounters. The White Rabbit represents society's obsession with formality and punctuality. The pervasive nature of the symbolism of this work can be seen in our use of going "down the rabbit hole" in common vernacular even today. Going "down the rabbit hole" means that one is transported to another state, or more commonly in modern times, one has been transported somewhere on the internet that has led them in a time-consuming and entirely different direction than they had initially planned.
So, while Carroll's intent may have initially been nothing more than entertainment, he was a product of the transformational times in which he was living. Just centuries earlier, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland would have been deemed entirely nonsensical and without merit by the elite, ruling class and society would have been deprived the magical and symbolic world of Alice altogether. Additionally, this work employed one of the first and most effective uses of symbolism, which allowed Carroll to make grand statements about society through a less combative medium than previous generations would have been able to access.