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Lewis Carroll's work is written during the Victorian period when childhood was considered a golden time in the life of an individual. Of course, it depended on what your social status was, because lower class Victorian children did not live a magical life. Even upper middle class Victorian children were expected to be polite, respectful and seen and not heard.
"Literature for children, often with a strong moralistic tone, became wildly popular during the Victorian era."
Therefore, Carroll's book about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland strike a different note in children's literature, it does not simply instruct a child on duty, responsibility and good behavior, Alice actually gets into a great deal of trouble because she is misbehaving.
"Children learned their catechism, learned to pray, learned to fear sin—and their books were meant to aid and abet the process," states Morton N. Cohen in his critical biography Lewis Carroll. "They were often frightened by warnings and threats, their waking hours burdened with homilies. Much of the children's literature … were purposeful and dour. They instilled discipline and compliance."
Even though Alice maintains her sense of responsibility and has expectations of the inhabitants of Wonderland, she is trying at all times to be proper, what makes this book so different from other children's books at the time is that Alice in Wonderland is entertaining and not simply instructional.
Carroll, not his real name,
"Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll,"
wrote this book in tribute to the three Liddel sisters that he often saw on his visits to a family he visited in his capacity as Minister.
"Dodgson quickly made friends with Alice's sisters Lorina (three years older) and Edith (two years younger). On July 4, 1862, the four of them, in company with Reverend Robinson Duckworth, took a boat trip up the Thames River. As they traveled upstream, Dodgson told the story that would become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Alice Liddell."
This book was meant to be entertaining, it also carries a message that the author believed children's feelings and emotional health should be looked after by the adults in their lives. Often parents in this period left rhe raising of their children to nannies, governesses, servants. Carroll is suggesting with Alice's adventures that children need emotional attention from their parents, not just food, lodging, clothing, medical care and education, they need love and attention.
"On the other hand, Alice's own experiences suggest that Carroll felt that children's feelings and emotions were fully as complex as any adult emotions. By the end of the novel, she is directly contradicting adults; when she tells the Queen "Stuff and nonsense!" she is acting contrary to Victorian dictates of proper children's behavior."
This perspective was unique for a Victorian children's book, it examined more than just issues of morality and discipline, it dealt with emotions, children's emotions in a serious context.
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