Archive for the 'Connor's Blog Posts' Category

03
Dec
09

Rationality Against Irrationality

At the end of the book, Alice becomes more and more fed up with the nonsensical behaviors of the characters. She begins to get angrier over much more trivial things than in the beginning of the book. I feel like the turning point of Alice beginning to use rational thought is when she reaches the garden, her original goal when she still had full rational thought from the real world.

Alice enters the garden soon after already being angered by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and their mad antics. Then, characters on an equally crazy level show up; the royalty, the King and Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts has Alice play an insane game of croquet, building up Alice’s hatred of this strange world. Later, at the trial things began to make even less sense. Jurors write with their fingers and convert dates into currency, rules are made up mid-court, and witnesses leave mid trial during all the commotion.

During the trial, Alice begins to object to this insane behavior. For example, she counters the king’s rule forty two reasoning and makes it mean nothing. As she is waking up, she seems to be fighting off the irrational thoughts, and using rational thoughts to back it up. Her counter argument against the king’s rule was that if it was one of the oldest rules in the book, it would be rule number one. Quite a rational thought, especially for Alice, who couldn’t do simple math after her first size change. Alice also is growing to a more sensible, realistic, <i>rational</i> size before she wakes up. When she wakes up, that is the point where irrationality is finally conquered by Alice’s own rational thought which brings her back into the real world.

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03
Dec
09

Alice’s Sister

One thing I noticed at the end, right after Alice runs off after waking up, is her sister’s recollection of Wonderland. Exactly how did her sister know about everything that happened? Has Alice’s sister been to Wonderland before? It certainly seems so.

The sister also seems to be the only one who mentioned the name Wonderland, too. I get the feeling that Alice’s sister has been there before, with perhaps a similar adventure. She remembered some specific parts of the journey, such as the Gryphon and other characters. If Alice’s sister HAS been to Wonderland, it’s unlikely the adventure is really a dream like Carroll tells us.

But this recollection of Wonderland was in a dreamlike state (from what I’ve gathered from the text), so maybe it really IS a dream… who knows? Perhaps Wonderland IS real, and many people end up going there? Perhaps her sister was there while Alice was there, as there were a few times where things were moved around, such as the golden key in the beginning. Or maybe she heard Alice sleeptalking about Wonderland? What do you think the reason for Alice’s sister’s knowledge of Wonderland is?

03
Dec
09

Welcome to the Real World

In Chapter 11, Alice notices the jurors writing on slates. The Gryphon tells her that they are putting their names down in case they forget them by the end of the trial. Alice replies:

“Stupid things!”

Now that the book is starting to reach a close, the denizens of Wonderland seem to start getting closer to their real life counterparts. The animals are starting to reach normal levels of intelligence (for animals, at least), and the cards are getting stupider as well. For instance, when Alice steals a pencil from Bill the lizard to stop the obnoxious squeaking of the pencil, Bill absent-mindedly hunts for it, gives up, and then attempts to write with his finger.

Does he not realize that fingers do not write on slate? Apparently not.  Earlier in the story, when the animals seemed considerably more intelligent, they would not have made such a silly mistake. And the King is spouting nonsense throughout the chapter with his misinterpretations of how law works.

You can see this again in the illustration where Tenniel draws a pack of cards flying towards Alice.

If you look at it closely, a few of the cards still have some human characteristics (noses, to be exact), but otherwise they are plain olf cards that are starting to get closer and closer to the correct size (using Alice as a basis for a correct size). If you look again, the White Rabbit has also lost a bit of clothing and runs around like a normal animal just like all of the others. Tenniel and Carroll work together to subtly transition the book from dream world to the real world by slightly changing the behavior of the Wonderland inhabitants. It’s remarkable how the illustrator managed to catch these little details of Carroll and managed to fit them in.

12
Nov
09

Out of Place

Is the puppy near the end of Chapter IV a bit too strange for Wonderland, perhaps? All of the other animals in the novel have experienced anthomorphism and gained the ability to speak and act like a human. However, the puppy acts just like a real world puppy would. It is a giant ball of energetic fur that simply wants attention and to have fun. Alice plays with the puppy for a while, and eventually stops playing and continues exploring. Before discovering the puppy, the sounds of the Wonderland creatures fade off into the distance. This scene feels like it’s bringing Alice back into the real world, but she isn’t quite there yet due to her small size. Why is it that there is a seemingly random animal there? Here’s my idea.

In the previous chapters, Alice keeps mentioning how her cat, who is a pet, often eats little animals. She finds it a postive topic to talk about, until oh, she encounters a giant pet that can easily eat her. She finally experiences the point of view of the defenseless animals, and normally would have played with the puppy. However, when her life is on the line, she understands why the animals were so eager to avoid talking about pets. Alice does play with the puppy, but the wording almost makes it seem involuntary and reluctant, as she is fearing for her life. She worries about coaxing the puppy because it might eat her. Alice is starting to realize that Wonderland is a dog-eat-dog world, or in this case, a dog-eat-Alice world. Nobody goes out of their way to be nice to her like the real world. The book is essentially exposing children to the fact that in the real world, people aren’t always going to be nice to you.

06
Nov
09

Good Guys Wear White

I found it interesting that up to Chapter III, the White Rabbit is portrayed as a seemingly innocent character, who simply seems to be late. A person would generally assume a rabbit to be innocent, and the color white would make the rabbit seem to be a “good guy.”

However, as soon as Alice shrank down to a size close to the rabbit, his character completely changes from then on. He becomes bossy and orders her around. Alice tries to follow his orders and find his gloves and fan, but when she finds them in his house, she found another size altering potion. After drinking it, she ends up growing to a very uncomfortable size, and both Alice and the White Rabbit try to solve the problem. Whereas Alice had a peaceful solution to get herself out, the White Rabbit has a much more violent solution… burn the house down! This contradicts the image that Carroll seems to be giving off by making the White Rabbit seem like an innocent little rabbit wearing a white jacket. I feel like this builds up the element of surprise that someone experiences when the rabbit suggests burning the house down and killing Alice.

Why did Carroll make the White Rabbit the color of “good” if he isn’t a very “good” guy? One way to look at it is that Wonderland has essentially flipped all previous knowledge, and rendered it useless. Or did he?

Perhaps the White Rabbit wears white because he perceives himself as a “good guy” in Wonderland?

28
Oct
09

Carroll’s Writing Style: Interesting?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has a fairly unique style. The author tells a main guideline of a story, but makes seemingly unimportant comments in parentheses, as well as uses capitalized words to stress his points, and he does it VERY often. His writing style also reflects Alice’s mind, as the trains of thought are quickly interrupted by other trains of thought and so on, just like the mind of a child around Alice’s age.

For example, you can see that Alice is easily distracted see right before she imbibes* in the bottle labeled ‘DRINK ME’ when she begins to recount stories about things that happened to other children, and the writing style feels as random as this.

The book seems to be written from the point of view of Alice, and this obscures the philosophy and references to the real world in the book (I’ll go more into detail on that later). Children look at everything with a sense of innocence, just like the children in Lord of the Flies do. Third person limited has a profound effect when being done from a child’s point of view, as it forces the reader to have to work to understand parts of the story, as they aren’t as easy to identify from a child’s perspective.

But, does Carroll want us to try to analyze and interpret these hidden meanings in his writing style?

He warns the readers of his fears of over analyzation in the introduction.

Given that, what is Carroll’s true goal?

* Note:

Our teacher has asked us, the students, to consider using our 10 SAT words this week. “Imbibe” is one of these words. For the rest of the week, 9 other words in my posts will be italicized for this reason.

Still curious about Carroll’s writing style? Check Benedikt’s (a blogger at one of our sister blogs) post, The Regained Innocence.