Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Reading Pointers for Sharper Insight
by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland book cover
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Reading Pointers for Sharper Insight

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

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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