Essay on Alice in Wonderland: Children’s Story or Fairytale?

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The story of Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is a captivating story that follows a young girl Alice, as the protagonist, on her journey down a rabbit hole and through Wonderland. The text itself is often defined as a children’s story, rather than a particular type of folkloric literature, yet when reading the text from a perspective other then that of a children’s book, the reader notices many folkloric symbolism that become apparent throughout the story. When analyzing the text, it can be argued that Alice in Wonderland is in fact a fantastical fairytale, encompassing an abundance of important fairytale elements. In determining whether a story is categorized as a fairytale or another children’s literary work, Axel Olrik, a Danish folklorist, created a set of eighteen “Epic Laws of Folk Narrative” that provide guidelines for defining a piece of children’s writing.
Consistent with Olrik’s first law of folk narrative, Alice in Wonderland begins leisurely with Alice sitting at the bank reading a story with her sister, bored and daydreaming about nonsense. This “Law of Opening” discusses the formalized opening sentences that begin folkloric narratives with the most unimportant settings and actions (Green 226). Much reasoning associated with the “Law of Opening” relates specifically to the opening or closing words that are typical within many fairytales like, “Once upon a time” and “Lived happily ever after,” but the subtle opening to the story relates to this law as well (Bottigheimer). Alice appears to be absentminded, naïve, and perhaps even lacking in knowledge because she does not understand the use of a book without pictures or conversations, implying that her sister is reading a textbook aloud to her in which she d...

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...irytale. Many of the scenes in the story are certainly more absurd than what is usually found in a folkloric tale, or simply do not follow the exact guidelines of a fairytale but with much analyzing, fairytale elements and symbolism become apparent. Extremely entertaining, Lewis Carroll takes readers though Alice’s adventures, which are wonderful examples of the charm fairytales possess.

Works Cited
1. Bottigheimer, Ruth B. "Folk Tales and Fairy Tales." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia
of the Early Modern World. 2004. 24 Oct. 2011
2. Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; And, Through the Looking-Glass.
New York: Penguin, 2010. Print.
3. Green, Thomas A. "Epic Laws." Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales,
Music, and Art. Vol. 1. American Libraries, 1997. 225-27. Print. 4.

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