Alices Adventures in Wonderland A Child Lost in a World of Adults

Kristin Howard
November 30, 2000

A Child Lost in a World of Adults

Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland is a queer little universe where a not so ordinary girl
is faced with the contradicting nature of the fantastic creatures who live there. Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland is a child’s struggle to survive in the condescending world of
adults. The conflict between child and adult gives direction to Alice’s adventures and
controls all the outstanding features of the work- Alice’s character, her relationship with
other characters, and the dialogue. “ Alice in Wonderland is on one hand so nonsensical
that children sometimes feel ashamed to have been interested in anything so silly (Masslich
107).” The underlying message of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a rejection of
adult authority.
The character of Alice is not at all like what you would find in a typical children’s
book. “The character of Alice herself is a bit puzzling, even to the modern child, because
it does not fit a stereotype. How much more unusual she must have seemed to Victorian
children, used to girl angels fated for death (in Dickens, Stowe, and others), or to
impossibly virtuous little ladies, or to naughty girls who eventually reform in response to
heavy adult pressure... But Alice is neither naughty nor overly nice. Her curiosity leads
her into her initial adventure and most of the latter ones in the book... (Leach 119).” As
Alice makes her way through Wonderland , she is faced with many pompous personalities
that have their own ways of thinking and do not understand why Alice does not agree with
their views. Alice takes into consideration what each character says. After becoming
quite confused and disgruntled she learns that everyone in Wonderland is in fact mad.
Once she has learned this she politely rejects all offers made by characters and tells them
how things are in her mind. More often than not, she is chastised for her opinions, but
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soon learns to take the characters criticisms with stride. Likewise, a child tends to see
adults in the same light. The child know the way that things are in their own mind, but
when they share their ideas with their parents or other adults they are often told that their
ideas are childish and wrong just as Alice was. The reader can see that Alice understands
that all of the creatures in Wonderland are wrong. “Nevertheless there is in her world the
underlying joyful certainty that they are incompetent, absurd, and only a pack of cards
after all (Hubbell 109).”
In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll shows the ridiculous nature of adults
through his extraordinary characters. The amiable Cheshire Cat is the only character to
help Alice in her struggle through Wonderland and admit that he is mad. “Oh you can’t
help that, we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad (Carroll ).” All other characters
are pointlessly didactic and feel the need to constantly snap at her, preach to her, confuse
her, or ignore her. The Duchess, for instance, is inconsistent, unpleasant, pointless, and is
of no help to Alice in her predicament. “ flamingoes and mustard both bite. And the moral
of that is Birds of a feather flock together (Carroll ).” Many children see adults,
especially those that are of authority, as having the same nature as the Duchess. The
arbitrary , bloody Queen of Hearts is an ineffective, abysmally stupid person. “...sentence
first - verdict afterwards (Carroll ).” The bustling, spruce, worried Rabbit is at heart a
poor, foolish, timid creature. “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late (Carroll )!” No
matter how hard Alice tries to talk to the Rabbit he always ignores her. Children often
feel as though the adults around them simply ignore them also. Throughout the book
Carroll sympathetically describes the child’s feelings of frustration at the illogical way of
the characters (adults). “...she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned
sulky, and would only say, \'I am older than you, and must know better\'... (Carroll ).”
Plain and simple the characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are not consistent
and they are not fair, “but they are in a word Dynamic:

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creatures not merely of the authors imagination, but a permanent stimulus to imagination
in others (Boas 114).”
Carroll shows Alice’s frustration with the characters puzzling use of
language. This is a heightening of the effect which an adult life must have on a child like
Alice. “And the