Alice's Adventures in Wonderland "Oh My Fur And Whiskers!"
by Lewis Carroll

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"Oh My Fur And Whiskers!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Carroll's familiar masterpiece of delightful nonsense begins with Alice sitting beside her sister on the riverbank; the sister is reading a book and Alice is growing drowsy when a white rabbit rushes past her, looking at his watch and exclaiming that he is late. She follows him down a rabbit hole and falls into a magical room which is continually changing and from which she cannot seem to escape. There are various substances lying about which she eats and drinks; each of these either increases or decreases her size. Though either state might help her out of her prison, she is never able to arrive at the proper combination. While she is a giant she weeps, and a large pool of tears gathers on the floor. Then she sees the white rabbit again; her size frightens him. He drops a fan and a pair of gloves he has been carrying and rushes away. Alice finds that she cannot follow him and then discovers that she is growing smaller. She continues to shrink; soon she is the size of a mouse and is swimming about in the pool of tears. A mouse swims past and she seizes his tail. He is nervous, and it seems that no matter what Alice tries to say she manages to touch on the subject of cats, thereby shattering her rescuer's equanimity. Presently they reach shore, accompanied by a crowd of birds and other small creatures which have also fallen in the water. The room that had imprisoned Alice has now disappeared. The group now engages in solemn debate on the question of how they are to dry themselves; here Carroll satirizes a committee meeting. After several lengthy addresses composed of windy nonsense, they find that the problem has solved itself. Then Alice inadvertently mentions cats again and the party breaks up. At this point the white rabbit reappears, hunting desperately for the articles he has lost. He is Carroll's caricature of a fussy, elderly person, officious, nervous and timid; like all cowards he is used to ordering his inferiors about–and in a state of perpetual anxiety over what his superiors may do to him.

It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself, "The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She'll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are...

(The entire section is 643 words.)