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 is the metaphorical meaning of the garden in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

Quick answer:

The garden in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is not so much a metaphor as a symbol. It represents Alice's will, her desire, and her unshakable belief in goodness and happiness. It also represents hope for a better life.

Expert Answers

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It's notable that Alice first sees the garden just after she reaches her lowest ebb. Seemingly trapped in a long hall with locked doors at the end of the rabbit hole, she feels frustrated and sad and starts pining for her family and her pet.

All of a sudden, however, a little door opens, allowing Alice to gain a peak into a lush, beautiful garden full of gorgeous flowers, bright colors, and cool fountains. Alice is energized by the sight of such extraordinary beauty. Now she has hope that her situation will change for the better.

But Alice will have to wait for quite some time before she's able to enter this idyllic paradise. For one thing, she's too big to enter through the little door. Even after she drinks the strange potion in the bottle marked "DRINK ME" she's unable to open the door because now she's too small to reach the key on the table. It's only much later on, after she's left the Mad Hatter's tea party, that Alice is finally able to enter the garden. She walks through the door of a trunk of a tree, finds herself in the long hall again, and finally uses the key to open the door to the garden.

As we've seen, the garden represents, among other things, Alice's hope that things will change for the better. But after she finally enters the garden Alice gets considerably more than she bargained for. Hope can so easily be dashed, and though the garden is every bit as beautiful as she'd originally believed, Alice finds that it's also full of strange characters like the gardeners painting the roses red. This would seem to indicate that the appearance of the garden doesn't quite match with the reality.

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