A Malapropos Ending
It really was a dream, after all. Wonderland was simply a figment of Alice’s unconscious imagination.
This not only is a reassurance (we can breath easier knowing the child is not mad) but also a very cruel (or even lazy) conclusion. It is quite curious that Carroll would layer his store so intricately with time-appropriate jokes and characters and end it so simply, so blandly, so unoriginal. It leaves something to be desired. It leaves one with an unsatisfied expectation of a much madder, nonsensical explanation as to how Wonderland could exist. It is a far too cliched ending for a story so unconventional.
Of course, it would be rather difficult to explain the existence of Wonderland in a way that could be plausible. The obvious options would be dream, drugs, or alternate reality. Why would Carroll choose the obvious, though?
It is possible that he chose the ending because it would satisfy a young child’s mind. As children were his seemingly intended audience, it makes sense that he would chose the dream explanation because that is something a child can understand, and even relate to.
But what of his unintended audience? What of the audience of adults that read the story to their kids, the same adults Carroll left hidden jokes and messages for earlier in the story? As an adult, a dream ending seems overdone and unfitting for Alice. Perhaps the dream ending is meant to put the story in perspective for young wondering minds and save an adult some explaining after the book is closed.
While the dream conclusion has its merits, when coupled with Carroll’s style it seems malapropos, or unsuitable.