Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is without a doubt, one of the most notable works of fiction in the modern era, ever since its publication back in 1865. In fact, you could say that it was one of the most important books for not only popular culture today, influencing a number of creations in the fantasy adventure genre.
Although there are multiple adaptations and inspired work by the book (including a very entertaining movie franchise starring Johnny Depp which I enjoyed very much), I hadn’t read the novel that started it all. Not wanting to miss out on anything, I decided to order a book for myself. Having been used to the fast paced, concise, and sharp writing of modern day works of fiction, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland definitely was a change of pace. Lewis was in no hurry in telling his story, and it certainly took a while for me to figure out the pace and rhythm of the story. This took a couple of chapters and to be honest, it’s the part that we all know, from falling down the rabbit hole and figuring out to fit through the door to get to the garden.
Of course, once settled into the story, you start to notice many themes making themselves known in the story. Because of how Carrol has written Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you’ll find that this fantastical novel tiptoes the line between nonsense and making perfect sense. There are many scholars who have expressed multiple interpretations to the work, and people very well might continue to interpret the book in new ways as we move toward the future.
It seems the transition between childhood and adulthood may have been one key theme in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are too many references to not think of it as such. The constant changes that take place in Alice’s body that leave her confused and scared, the fear of being in an unfamiliar territory that doesn’t seem to make any sense, it all fits in too well.
The garden itself is convincing evidence of this. Looking through the door, Alice believes the garden to be a wonderful and fantastical place. Once she makes it in though, it doesn’t turn out to be as amazing as she thought she would. The white flowers painted red, the harsh red queen that is just angry all the time, it all points towards that angle. Alice also changes during the story, from a scared girl who gets ordered to fetch the hare’s gloves, to a bold individual defiant against all odds at the court full of adults, powerful people in the world she has been thrust into.
An equal if not bigger, literally. By the end of it all, I found myself wondering to myself how much was a dream and how much of it wasn’t. Was Carrol warning Alice of the struggles she will have to face when she grows up? (If you didn’t know, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was said to have been written for Alice Liddel whom Carrol befriended). It is a story written for her to begin with. What we can say is that it’s clear how much craft Carrol placed in his writing, and the result is an entertaining read that still holds its own even in modern standards. It truly is a timeless classic, and Alice’s stories will undoubtedly be enjoyed for many years to come.
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage