Abstract illustration of the silhouettte of Alice falling, a white rabbit, and a red mushroom

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

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What happened to Alice when she drank from the bottle?

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The bottle with the "drink me" label appears twice in the story. She wishes she could "shut up like a telescope" so that she could be small enough to fit through a small door to get into a beautiful garden. The bottle mysteriously appears on a glass table. After carefully inspecting the label to see if it was marked "poison," Alice drinks the potion, which tastes, among other things, like roast turkey and buttered toast. She shrinks to be about ten inches tall. Later in the book, she encounters a similar bottle, without a label, which causes her to grow into a giant.

There's been a lot of debate over the meaning of these episodes. Popular theories are that the emphasis on eating, drinking, and bodily change has to do with drug use, sexual maturation, or even eating disorders.

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The bottle in question has a label around its neck that says "DRINK ME." It does not say anything further as to what will happen when Alice does so. It is notable that this bottle appears at the same time that Alice is wishing she could fold down like a telescope in order to be able to fit through a very tiny door she has spotted. Through this door, Alice can see beautiful gardens, but the door is barely the size of a mousehole, and Alice, of course, cannot fit through it.

Alice does not drink from the bottle immediately upon seeing it. A sensible child, she knows that sometimes things in bottles can be poisonous, but, finding that there is no marking on the bottle to indicate that this might be poison, she decides it is probably safe to drink. Alice then drinks from the bottle and experiences a curious feeling, which she quickly decides must be the feeling of being folded up like a telescope. Sure enough, she soon discovers that she has shrunk and is now small enough to walk through the tiny door.

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What happened to Alice when she drank from the bottle in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?  

After Alice finds a tiny key and fits it into the tiny lock of a 15-inch-high door, she peers inside and sees a beautiful garden. She wishes she could get through it, but even her head is too big. On the same table where she had found the key, she then notices a bottle which she is sure was not there before. Around its neck is a printed label that reads "Drink me." Alice is suspicious and takes time to ascertain that it is not also labeled "Poison." As it is not, she tastes the contents. The "very nice" flavor reminds her of:

cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast.

Alice immediately starts to feel odd and realizes she is shrinking. She is getting her wish that she could "shut up like a telescope" to get through the door. She shrinks down to 10 inches high, which makes her happy because she will be able to reach the garden. She is soon reassured that she will not shrink any more, as she was a bit worried that she would keep shrinking down:

". . . it might end, you know," said Alice to herself, "in my going out altogether, like a candle."

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