Alice : The Lessons Of Wonderland Essay

Alice : The Lessons Of Wonderland Essay

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Most critics agree that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not a frivolous child’s tale born of pure whimsy. Rather, it portrays the problems inherent to the process of growing up and becoming an adult. More specifically, in “Educating Alice: The Lessons of Wonderland”, Jan Susina posits that the novel pertains to the act of conforming and finding one’s place in an existing adult society. He suggests that Alice is generally pleasing and agreeable and even cites Alice’s physical changes in size and shape as metaphors for her desire to fit into the new environment in which she finds herself. One of Susina’s key ideas is that Carroll created Alice as an idealized Victorian girl, and he even suggests that Alice’s various encounters with characters, such as the Duchess, imply that Alice adopted a maternal role, thus fulfilling the upper-middle class ideal of a happy Victorian family (Susina 3-9). However, I find that Alice displays autonomy and aggression in her fantastical journey. The females of Wonderland, including the Duchess, the Cook, and the Queen of Hearts, all display traits that are atypical of the image of the ideal Victorian woman. Thus, rather than teaching Alice to fit into adult society as a maternal figure, the subversion of the ideal Victorian woman in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland gives voice to the repressed feelings of women who aggressively seek and demonstrate autonomy.
Alice, during her journey through Wonderland, does not behave as stereotypical Victorian girls would behave. In Victorian times, young girls were idealized as obedient, modest, and diligent since their age suggest child-like simplicity and dependence on their parents (Gorham 5). Meanwhile, Alice, despite being frustrated by the creatures and ...


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...issive, and some outright hostile creatures. Amongst the inhabitants of Wonderland, the Duchess and the Cook resent their subservient and maternal roles, respectively, and they express this in aggressive and physical manners that are not consistent with the Victorian ideals of women from the “above-world”. The Queen of hearts is similarly aggressive, abusing her power and using violence to solve her problems independent of her husband. Thus, the female presence in Wonderland shows no capability of transforming Alice into the gentle, domestic mother that Victorian society envisions. However, Alice’s triumph in returning to the “above-world” with her assertiveness and independence intact may be a metaphor in which Carroll suggests that repressed women’s feelings, symbolized by the discontented females of Wonderland, may eventually emerge into reality, just as Alice did.

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