Faith in the Protagonist

This post is a continuation of Faith in Imagination.

Alice meets a drug using character in the story… Shock? Not particularly. Drugs were popular back in Carroll’s day. Wait, let me rephrase that- drugs have always been popular, because, well, let’s face it again, they do funky things to you and make you die. So they have always been a mysterious phenomenon studied or mentioned in practically all forms of media. Also, it is important to mention that the attitude towards recreational drugs in Carroll’s time was substantially different than our attitude now. Current day society frowns upon illegal usage whereas back then, hardly anything was illegal or even considered vile. This leads me to prompt that we mustn’t read upon an ancient text with modern eyes. We have to give up our current beliefs about drugs in order to understand the references. Soon after understanding, we can use our modern eyes to do our given mandate and analyze the text.

I’m not reluctant to say that one of my favourite Beatles songs is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. It has been suggested that the song is in itself a drug reference, but it does not compel me to try LSD despite the deceivingly pleasant picture it has painted for the listener. Now there is a significant difference between this song, and Alice’s encounter with a hookah smoking caterpillar.

Alice is indeed the protagonist of this story. She is the character in the story which the children reading the story can follow along with, grow with and learn with. It is written in the nature of the reader to sympathize and eventually love the hero of the story. As a child follows Alice to the point where she meets a rather malicious drug-using caterpillar, the child will certainly not feel encouraged to immediately try this drug. The drug is presented by the naturally disliked Caterpillar. From that point on, anything associated with that character will be disliked as well. If Alice displays any sort of aversion to the Caterpillar, which she does, then the child certainly will too.

That is why many children’s drug awareness videos contain characters which they love saying to stay away from drugs. Just like in this TMNT video.

So let’s stop wagging the finger at Carroll for adding a drug user into Alice’s journey.


2 Responses to “Faith in the Protagonist”

  1. 1 Meighan A.
    November 21, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Quite pleasant to read. I am glad to see someone defending Carroll and his slightly controversial characters. Another thing to notice is you said, drugs kill us, wish is true. Curiously a caterpillar undergoes a metamorphosis, similar to dying and coming back to life in a new form. Carroll didn’t intend to say that doing drugs would make you come back to life all pretty like a butterfly, but it just happens to be that when we are using drugs -I do not know from experience- you see colors and etc. Sound like the colors on a butterfly’s wings? Well the thing that is killing you (the drugs) make you see ‘butterflies’ and the caterpillar is ‘dying’ and will be a butterfly. I don’t know if it really has anything to do with anything at all, but I just noticed and thought I’d share.

  2. 2 Hagen F.
    November 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    First of all I must say that I love this line, “we mustn’t read upon an ancient text with modern eyes.” I heartely agree with this statement, and it goes hand-in-hand with what many other of our classmates are saying how we should not over-analzye Alice. Carroll’s time was different, as you mentioned, and drugs had a different view than they do today. We cannot take things out of the context that they were meant for. We can not use modern ideas to define older terms and ideas.
    Another idea that i love that you mentioned are the symbols that children identify certain materials with; like drugs. If a drug user is disliked by the hero, we dislike him/her. That is an excellent point and quite true too. Drugs have always been associated wiht criminals and ‘low-lives’ (to me), and naturally I do not like either of those two groups. Therefore drugs are not something I want to do because I do not like the symbol(s) that I associate drugs with.

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