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Alice In Wonderland: Making Sense Of Nonsense

1447 words - 6 pages

Making Sense of Nonsense: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Jacquelyn Stewart
English IV Honors
3rd Period
February 25th, 2011

Stewart 1

Jacquelyn Stewart
English IV Honors
3rd Period
February 25th, 2011

Making Sense of Nonsense: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland has been a beloved children’s classic for over a century and was originally told to entertain a close friend’s child, Alice Liddell; yet, it has now become one of the most analyzed children’s stories with its many paradoxes. While it could be acclaimed to feminism with its many intense female characters that often illustrate poor decisions or historical with its Victorian era ...view middle of the document...

The court being overthrown, Alice wakes from her dream at the side of the riverbank whilst her sister calls her name.
When Alice falls into the rabbit hole, she enters a nonsense world of Wonderland. As she falls she often notices various things on the walls as it takes her what seems like several hours before she reaches the bottom. When she does finally reach the bottom she comes to a room with several doors and a table with a glass proclaiming “drink me.” She
chooses to do as she has been told and drinks the little potion. Soon she begins to shrink and notices through the keyhole of the smallest door a beautiful garden. However, having drank the liquid she can no longer reach the key. Soon she finds a small cookie which also has a demand for her “eat me.” Yet, again Alice does as she is told and soon grows too large to fit through the small door. In despair, Alice begins to cry in her frustration for
this place she has found herself in. She soon come along many characters that do nothing but confuse her further when they ask her to recite well-known children’s lessons which Alice frequently muddles. The satirical effect is one that outlives the originals they ridicule and “emphasize the underlying senselessness of Wonderland and highlight

Stewart 3
Alice’s own sense of displacement.” (Novels for Students, p29) Eventually, Alice reaches the garden, though, it isn’t as it had seemed. Ruled by a fanatical Queen of Hearts, the characters in the garden lead a panicked life doing their best to avoid the infamous words “off with their heads!” As Alice meets the characters she quickly matures into her own opinions that ultimately overthrow the court.
Psychoanalytical criticism emphasizes the “value of symbols and language that, often unconsciously, explain meanings or unconscious intention.” (Holman and Harmon, p382) Psychoanalytical criticism often focuses on the authors own intended an unintended paradoxes and symbolism. Much of the story is a parody of the Victorian era of Carroll’s time. At the time Carroll lived, Victorian provincialism dictated the dress and mores of the day. Children were taught to be seen and not heard. The story itself, with its exaggerations of life, is meant to skewer the adult world and allow us to view our absurdity through the eyes of a child. Carroll heightens the often nonsensical world of the adult characters so that we may clearly see how foolish our sense of importance and right must be to a child such as Alice. Yet, as a learned professor, high society member, and a member of the church Carroll managed to effectively shatter the very society he was so active in with his very own pen. “It is lucky the author knew the conventional world
which he ridiculed. He had to know it in order to be fair, and therefore effectively devastating. Alice herself could not have turned the trick. Nobody but an unusually learned man could have done it.” (Hubbell, p393) Alice is the representation of the...

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