After reading Alice in Wonderland, I had to ask myself, what did I get from reading this. My first thought was not very much. The story is so far out there that it’s hard to follow and doesn’t make a lot of sense to a logical mind. After putting my logic mind to bed, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of the story is to make people question the reason for everything and to even to question their own reality.
While reading Alice in Wonderland, the reader is constantly wondering what is going to happen to the main character, Alice is also always wondering what is happening. She never knows what is coming next, but she is satisfied with that. Carroll was able to create a fascination with the unknown by constantly changing the story’s setting, which he usually transitioned Alice and the reader into through some sort of hallway, whether it happened to be an actual hallway or a shaft of a well. Before moving on to the next part of her journey, Alice has to figure out how to go on. This is usually accomplished by having to either eat or drink something, a necessity of life. People must choose to go through the doors of life never knowing what is on the other side. Sometimes it is difficult to make the choice to go through the door, but we still must go through, otherwise we would be stuck in an empty room, like Alice, until we move on. Remaining stagnant is not a true choice, nor even a possibility. There will always be something, like the white rabbit, causing us to desire to move on. After all, curiosity is a driving force of human nature.
Like the talking white rabbit with a pocket watch, the characters in Alice in Wonderland are somewhat on an enigma. They are often not what they seem. For instance, when Alice first meets the Cheshire cat, she is afraid of him and doesn’t like him. As time goes on, she begins to like the cat, probably because of her close connection with her own cat, Dinah. The Cheshire cat gives Alice advise that actually sounds sound to her and the reader. Possibly the most insane looking character provides a touchstone of sanity for Alice and the reader. He appears to be the only character like this. All the others seem to be there to make her feel badly about herself at one point or another or to scare her.
Originally, Alice is frightened of the unfamiliar. Eventually, she understands she does not have to be scared because these things are merely things. An example of this is the Queen’s character. The Queen is always saying, “Off with their heads,” petrifying the objectified character. Alice finds out later the characters are always pardoned, and no one ever actually loses his or her head. Therefore, there is no real reason to be afraid.
Through out the story, Alice is either asked specific questions or hears a character say something that becomes a puzzle to her. She tries to figure out the puzzle, sometimes being successful, as in eventually figuring out how to get through the smaller-than-life doors. And sometimes when Alice can’t figure things out, she just leaves it and moves on. Eventually, the same problem comes back around and has either changed into some other form of the problem, and she figures it out, having learned from her mistakes, such as getting through the door to the garden. The second time she sees a small door, she remembers the first door and takes the key from the table and unlocks the door before she drinks the liquid to cause her body to shrink. This way, she will be ready to walk through the door after she is small. Such is life, we move at an unstoppable rate learning from our mistakes so that hopefully the next time around, we don’t make the same one. If we do, it will come around again, giving us another chance.
Another example of leaning from our experiences is the first encounter with the duchess. Alice does not understand the duchess’s words or her motivation to say the things she does. Later in the story when the duchess meets back up with Alice, she is much more coherent and kind (which she was not earlier in the story) and even explains to Alice that she thought it was the pepper that makes her and others act hostile, which seems like a valid excuse to Alice. Now that they are outside in the garden, the Duchess is much more amicable. And Alice accepts this.
After closer examination of Alice in Wonderland, I have realized that it is so much more than just a strange child’s story. It is about individual reality, about choices, about growth, about life. We all go through our own versions of reality and can experience something real with someone and s/he can experience something entirely different. We were a part of the same actions, sharing the same space but because we are different people, we may not walk away with the same experience. This unreal reality is something that writers strive to carry their readers through. Writers want their audience to feel like their story is realistic and authentic. They want their readers to become Alice, who blindly goes through the doors just for the sake of seeing what is on the other side.
In Abby’s Quest, Abby shares a life with her father, whom she hates and blames for her mother’s death. Her father, who shares the same space and experiences as Abby, hates and blames himself for the same things but sees his daughter as his potential savior, even though part of him can’t stand her. He didn’t feel as though he was a burden to her even though she felt he was.
Through Alice, Lewis Carroll teaches his readers that it is all right to look at the world differently than your neighbor, and sometimes it is best just to accept the things that we cannot change. We are not in control of others or our environment. We are only in control of our own actions and the choices we make. This is a lesson that Abby has to learn as she goes down her own rabbit hole. One of my goals is to keep the reader wanting to go through the next door, to keep them eating the mushroom, and drinking from the vial. I want them to feel like it is okay that things are not always what they appear to be, just as long as the reality that I create is realistic enough to carry them through.