Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Summary
by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland book cover
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Summary

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a children’s book by Lewis Carroll about a girl named Alice who travels through the magical world of Wonderland.

  • Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole to Wonderland.
  • While searching for the rabbit, Alice attends a tea party at the March Hare’s house. After the Mad Hatter tries to cut Alice's hair, she runs away and finds herself in a garden.
  • After a croquet match there, Alice angers the Queen of Hearts, who orders that her head be cut off. 
  • Alice then wakes up to discover that it was all a dream.

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Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Alice is quietly reading over her sister’s shoulder when she sees a White Rabbit dash across the lawn and disappear into its hole. She jumps up to rush after him and finds herself falling down the rabbit hole. At the bottom, she sees the White Rabbit hurrying along a corridor ahead of her and murmuring that he will be late. He disappears around a corner, leaving Alice standing in front of several locked doors.

On a glass table, she finds a tiny golden key that unlocks a little door hidden behind a curtain. The door opens upon a lovely miniature garden, but Alice cannot get through the doorway because it is too small. She sadly replaces the key on the table. A little bottle mysteriously appears. Alice drinks the contents and immediately begins to grow smaller, so much so that she can no longer reach the key on the table. Next, she eats a piece of cake she finds nearby, and soon she begins to grow to such an enormous size that she can only squint through the door. In despair, she begins to weep tears as big as raindrops. As she sits crying, the White Rabbit appears, moaning that the Duchess will be angry if he keeps her waiting. He drops his fan and gloves, and when Alice picks them up, she begins to grow smaller. Again she rushes to the garden door, but she finds it shut and the golden key once more on the table out of reach.

Then she falls into a pool of her own tears. Splashing along, she encounters a mouse who stumbled into the pool. Alice tactlessly begins a conversation about her cat Dinah, and the mouse becomes speechless with terror. Soon the pool of tears is filled with living creatures—birds and animals of all kinds. An old Dodo suggests that they run a Caucus Race to get dry. Asking what a Caucus Race is, Alice is told that the best way to explain it is to do it, whereupon the animals run themselves quite breathless and finally become dry. Afterward, the mouse tells a “Tail” to match its own appendage. Alice is asked to tell something, but the only thing she can think of is her cat Dinah. Frightened, the other creatures go away, and Alice is left alone.

The White Rabbit appears once more, this time hunting for his gloves and fan. Catching sight of Alice, he sends her to his home to get him a fresh pair of gloves and another fan. In the Rabbit’s house, she finds the fan and gloves and also takes a drink from a bottle. Instantly, she grows to be a giant size and is forced to put her leg up the chimney and her elbow out the window to keep from being squeezed to death.

She manages to eat a little cake and shrink herself again. As soon as she is small enough to get through the door, she runs into a nearby wood where she finds a caterpillar sitting on a mushroom. The caterpillar is very rude to Alice, and he scornfully asks her to prove her worth by reciting “You Are Old, Father William.” Alice does so, but the words sound very strange. Disgusted, he leaves her, after giving her some valuable information about increasing or decreasing her size. She breaks off pieces of the mushroom and finds to her delight that she can become taller by eating from the piece in her left hand, shorter by eating from the piece in her right hand.

She comes to a little house among the trees. There a footman, who looks very much like a fish, presents to another footman, who closely resembles a frog, an invitation for the Duchess to play croquet with the Queen....

(The entire section is 1,620 words.)