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A New Take On a Multi-Dimensional Alice

November 1, 2009
Katherine Harris’s post, “What is the Use of a Book Without Pictures or Conversations?” and Meighan A.’s comment added another dimension to how I view Alice as ‘two people’. Specifically, take Meighan’s comment regarding Alice pretending to be two people:

“However, like you said, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written for two different audiences. Perhaps it is for the child-reader to relate with, and the adult-reader to base assumptions off of.”

Could Carroll in fact be providing ‘two people’ in his protagonist because he intended the story to be read by two different audiences, both children and adults?
It seems possible that one ‘person’ that comprises Alice could be the character that Carroll hopes children to identify with while the second ‘person’ could be the character Carroll hopes adults relate to. The concept of providing related characters for the audience is anything but novel; Carroll’s method, however, differs in that he provided two different related personalities in only one Alice.
That being said, I am curious to see how the different components of the character that is Alice evolve throughout the novel. Will one personality become over-arching and dominate the second? Or will Carroll maintain a delicate balance between childhood naivete and adult logic? As a mathematician, it seems more likely that Carroll would attempt to keep the balance. However, due to the kid-friendly writing style, the adult part of Alice may get lost in the mix. Contrastly, the kid component of Alice could get neglected due to the overwhelming attention given to children in the basic story; Carroll may have felt the need to add more of the adult part of Alice to supplant the childlike prose.
The more I think about this concept, the idea that Alice is meant to represent something broader increasingly intrudes my thoughts. Could Alice simply represent all of humanity? Humans are curious, naive, and make mistakes, yet we also can be logical, insightful, and mature. Does Alice not express all of those qualities? In my opinion, she exhibits all the components of a human being of any age.
Thus, if Alice represents humanity, what could Wonderland represent other than the trials, tribulations, and experiences humans encounter in the real world?
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, that could arguably represent how humans generally start at rock bottom, or more symbolically, from scratch. We start as infants entirely dependent on outside forces, unable to do so much as open our eyes. Then, slowly, we grow and learn how to walk, talk, and ‘be’. We make mistakes along the way; we forget to get the key before we are too short to reach it, or we cry a pool of tears and nearly drown in it. But as humans, we get by, and learn from our mistakes; we grab the key the instant we are able to reach it again, we swim to shore as soon as it is visible. We try to charm others, and worry when we offend someone. We keep quiet even if something seems absurd to us, if only to maintain good relationships or save ourselves some grief.
In a sense, the title of my team’s blog seems even more appropriate now than when we first came up with it. We truly are in ‘Our Own Wonderland,’ thinking, discovering, learning, growing. ‘Our Own Wonderland’ does not seem as though it simply applies to our blog anymore; rather it seems to be apropos for life offline as well.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Vivian H. permalink
    November 9, 2009 12:27 pm

    Great thought provoking points. The mention of two different personalities in Alice puts a new spin on Carroll’s messages. A innocent childlike personality versus her unconcious adult like personality puts some of the puzzling pieces into perspective. Carroll’s ponderings are perhaps a way for him to communicate his ideas to the reader. Then the thought of Alice encompassing all of human behavior is one I had been wondering at as well. I love your idea of Alice starting at ground zero and learning her life lessons along the way. This allows me to see the story from a different set of eyes, regarding her experiences as a journey through adolescence. Also, the fact that you have tied this post to the title of your blog is very clever.

  2. Katherine H. permalink
    November 9, 2009 11:21 am

    Wow, I must give you applause for this blog. My blog inspired you, but you’ve certainly returned the favor by inspiring me. I love the fact that Carroll was aiming at both of his audiences. That seems very logical and helps me better understand her awkward ‘multi-dimensional’ self. She does indeed “exhibit all components of humans at any age”, doing so by combining them, not very smoothly I might add, all at once. You say that we as humans worry when we offend someone and such. However, Alice seems to do almost the opposite of what is expected at times. Is this the result of being childish? Also, Alice still seems unnatural at times when she is pretending to be two people. To me, there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for her strangeness at times. The strangeness that seems almost psychological. Well I suppose the explanation could be Alice’e psychology in reacting to this Wonderland.

  3. Meighan A. permalink
    November 5, 2009 9:58 am

    I’m honored you chose my comment as something worth such wonderful analysis! I really liked how you went into detail about the ideas most of us have only had drift through our minds unprocessed. “It seems possible that one ‘person’ that comprises Alice could be the character that Carroll hopes children to identify with while the second ‘person’ could be the character Carroll hopes adults relate to. The concept of providing related characters for the audience is anything but novel; Carroll’s method, however, differs in that he provided two different related personalities in only one Alice.” these sentences struck me as absolutely fantastic. You openned up the idea I struggled to find a way to present. I applaud the way you organized your words too, it helped promote the idea.

  4. Kristen K permalink
    November 2, 2009 4:43 pm

    At the present, it seems to me that the Alice project mimics the discovery process of Alice herself in Wonderland. Mr. Long said at the beginning of the project that he had never done anything like this before, so in a sense it is a ‘Wonderland effect’ for him as well. All three of us (Alice, the students, and the teacher) are out of our element and through careful trial and error will hopefully reach our goals. We already have changed the game on a number of ‘rules’ concerning the project and added new ones when neccessary. Alice does this similarly when she converses with the mouse; she realizes that he won’t talk to her if she mentions cats or dogs. Thus, she now has a personal rule that she will keep quiet about those two animals around the mouse.

    At this point everything is trial and error for the three of us, but I suspect we will all come out on top.

  5. November 2, 2009 10:48 am

    Bravo. You and your classmates, blog “mates,” are doing such a nice job of digging deeper. It will be interesting to compare all the different “take aways” from this Alice Project. Will everyone’s learning look the same? Not likely. Are you wondering why Mr. Long chose this text for this kind of project/exploration? I think you’re just starting to uncover why…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your hard work!

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