Alice in Wonderland; Lewis Carroll

English Literature. Narrative. Infantile, Juvenile novel. Children's Literature. Plot. Characters. Biography. Setting

  • Enviado por: Julio J Cerro Borondo
  • Idioma: inglés
  • País: España España
  • 12 páginas
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LEWIS CARROLL

The pseudonym by which Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is known, mathematician and writer English, is famous all over the world.

He was born at Daresbury in Cheshire in 1832, one of 11 children. As a child, he lived in remote country places - after Daresbury his next home was Croft in Yorkshire- and depended very much on the company of his brothers and sisters.

He showed an early talent for nonsense writing and at the age of eight composed a series of rules for railway travellers (trains were as exotic then as spaceships are now). Throughout his schooldays (he hated his three years at Rugby) and his first term at Oxford, he spent much spare time on the family “magazine”, contributing both text and pictures.

He was a successful scholar, got a distinguished degree in mathematics at Christ Church, and became senior student and lecturer there in 1885. He contributed humorous poems and parodies to periodicals and for one of these, The Train, he used the pseudonym Carolus Ludovicus (Charles Lutwidge or Ludwig). Later he reversed it and retranslated it as Lewis Carroll.

As a mathematician, Charles Dodgson published a formidable body of work but, a very shy man with a stammer, he always responded to children. He felt comfortable wiht them and in their company his stammer left him.

Always a friend of children, particularly little girls, Carroll wrote thousands of letters to them, delightful flights of fantasy, many illustrated with little sketches. They have been collected and published as The Letters of Lewis Carroll (2 vol., 1979) by Morton N. Cohen and Roger L. Green. Carroll gained an additional measure of fame as an amateur photographer. Most of his camera portraits were of children in various costumes and poses, including nude studies; he also did portraits of adults, including the actress Ellen Terry and the poets Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Apparently because his posing of children was criticized, he abandoned photography in 1880.

Among the children who became his friends were those of George MacDonald and the Dean of Christ Church, Henry George Liddell. The second Liddell child was a girl named Alice, three years old. Six years later he told the Liddell children, after a boating party, the story of Alice's adventures underground, which he wrote down for Alice. This was completed and illustrated by 1863 and. One day Henry Kingsley, calling on the Liddells, saw the book in the drawing room. He picked it up - and did not put it down again until he'd finished it, enchanted. He told Alice's mother that it should be published and she told the author what Kingsley had said.

Dodgson took some convincing, but after revising the text, he sent it to Macmillan. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by sir John Tenniel, was published in 1865, three years after the boating party. It was an immediate success. Through the Looking Glass was begun in 1868, after an encounter in Onslow Square with a distant cousin, a little girl whose name proved to be Alice Raikes.

The book was published for Christmas in 1871 and was a greater success even than the original Alice. Two classics, for children of every age and for adults who are children at hart, had entered the language. Dodgsons' understanding and love of children had been combined with the precision of a mathematician to produce two wonderful books that, as the author himself said: “do not teach anything at all”.

Dodgson was never to reach that level again, though he worked hard on Rhyme? and Reason? and Sylvie and Bruno. The latter was developed from a fairy tale, Bruno's Revenge, which he contributed to Aunt Judy's Magazine in 1867. Both books, however, contain some charming things. A complete success, on the other hand, was The Hunting of the Snark, a long nonsense poem, which is both funny and subtle, about the elusive Snark who proves to be a Boojum. Dodgson also published in 1879 most highly regarded mathematical treatise, Euclid and his Modern Rivals.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson died in Guildford in 1898.

PLOT

Alice in Wonderland is the story of a little girl who once felt asleep and entered in a marvellous world. Being in the real world, or at least where she thought se should be, she saw a white rabbit dressed like a man running. So she decided to follow him and find out why he was so hurried. The rabbit came into a warren and Alice after him. She fell, fell and fell and finally she arrived in a large room with many doors, but only one carried her to a beautiful garden and this one was too small for Alice to enter. Fortunately she found one liquid and a cake, which made her grow or decrease and she could go into the garden.

There, she went to the rabbit's house. When she was inside it she drank the liquid of a jar and started to grow again. She was locked in the house and there was no way of escaping. The rabbit and a lizard decided to throw her some stones, which became in cakes. Alice ate some of them and could decrease to her normal height.

After that she met a great blue caterpillar resting in the top of a mushroom. The caterpillar was very quiet and told her that one side of the mushroom could made her grow and the other decrease, so she take one piece of each side to grow or decrease whenever she wanted.

Giving a round in the garden she arrived to the Duchess house who was very bad tempered. Alice tried to talk with her but when she wanted to realice she was carrying in her arms the baby of the Duchess, and for her surprise the baby turned into a little pig. Then she found in a tree the Chessire cat, which was in the Duchess house and was always smiling. He told her to go to the march hare house or the hatter house, but wherever she went, both of them were mad. She went to the march hare house and there she met the owner of the house, the hatter and a dormouse, sleeping of course. They were celebrating a mighty tea and all they told was nonsense. So, she preferred going out before getting mad too.

In other garden Alice saw how three cards, which were gardeners, were painting several white rosebushes in red. They told her that they planted white wrongly and the Queen wanted them in red. Suddenly the Queen appeared, when she saw what the gardeners were making she ordered to chop their heads. After that the Queen met Alice and invited her to play a crazy croquet game. But all there was a nonsense, the stick was a flamenco and the ball a hedgehog, and the arcs where the soldiers of the Queen.

When the game was going to finish the Queen and the King ordered to make a trial against the boss of hearts for stealing some tarts the Queen had made. Some witness were called and finally Alice was called too. And while Alice was testifying she told something that made the cards get angry and all of them began to hit Alice. Fortunately they were only some leaves of a tree and all the things that had happened to her were dreaming.

SETTING

It's almost impossible to set this story in the time and in the space because nearly all of it forms part of a dream: Alice was very tired and suddenly she felt asleep and began to dream. However, she didn't realise that whatever she saw in Wonderland was only a dream, a product of her imagination but not the reality.

Anyway, we could say that there are two main stages: the real world and Wonderland, the fictitious one.

In Wonderland all is “nonsense” and strange, you don't know what's going to happen in each situation.

The real world only appears at the beginning and at the end of the story when she wakes up from her nap. Because of it, this world is not very important for readers and for Alice too, who prefers living in a world completely different from hers.

Interesting and strange things only happen in Wonderland where everyone is mad. Moreover, there we can see a lot of different places where Alice spends her time like the rabbit-hole, the house of the rabbit, the garden, the house of the Dukes, ...

The time is not very clear because Alice thinks that she has spent a lot of time there, but all her adventures only last the time of her little nap.

When you are sleeping you can believe that you have spent a lot of time dreaming and perhaps it has been no longer than fifteen minutes.

That's what's happen with Alice. She doesn't have any kind of time in Wonderland and everything happens all at once and very quickly; so that she didn't realise.

CHARACTERS

ALICE.

She is a girl very curious, she is always wondering to herself about everything. She tries to discover all curiosities she has. She doesn't see the danger of anything. If she find a bottle full of any liquid, she drinks that liquid and so on. She is a brave girl and she doesn't fear anybody. For example, she shouts the Queen of Hearts although the Queen has a lot of authority and everybody is afraid of her, but Alice. She generally gives herself very good advices, and sometimes she scolds herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes.

WHITE RABBIT.

It has pink eyes. It is always saying to itself: - Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!

It takes a watch in its waist coat pocket. It is splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other. It is always hurry.

It attempts not to disappoint to the Queen.

THE MOUSE.

Like all mice, it hates the cats. It doesn't like that Alice speaks about Dinah, her cat. The Mouse wants to tell Alice its story to Alice understands why it hates cats and dogs too.

This character appears when Alice was in the pool of tears, which she had wept when she was nine feet high.

It is a person of authority among the Caucus -race's assemblage. This assemblage is formed by a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, an Eaglet and several other curious creatures.

LORY.

It only says that it is older than Alice, and must know better, but this Alice not allow without knowing how old it is, and as the Lory positively refuses to tell its age, there isn`t more to say.

DODO.

It`s the character who explain to Alice what a Caucus- race is.It decides that everybody is the winner and all must have prizes. It chooses Alice to give the prizes.

LIZARD, BILL.

It appears when Alice is blocked against the little door. It`s a character which tries to help Alice to free from there.

It goes down the chimney. It`s given one sharp kick by Alice because she doesn`t know what kind of animal is it.

PUPPY

It appears when Alice wonders in the wood. It has round eyes and tries to touch her. Alice intends to mislead it with a game. Alice manages to tire the Puppy and finally its eyes half shut. This seems to Alice a good opportunity for making her escape.

CATERPILLAR.

This character is sitting on the top of a mushroom with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah.

It seems to be in a very unpleasant state of mind. Alice tries to be advice about being so many different sizes in a day and at the begining the Caterpillar doesn`t seem to intend to help her. Later the Caterpillar offers Alice one side of the mushroom, which it will make her grow taller, and the other side will make her grow shorter.

PIGEON.

It calls Alice “serpent” because Alice has a very long neck, so the Pigeon fears for serpent rob its eggs.

FOOTMEN.

Judging by their faces only, they seem fishes but are considered to be footmen because they are in livery. They have round face, and large eyes like a frog. They have powdered hair that curled all over their heads.

DUCHESS.

She is sitting on a three-legged stool in the middle, hursing a baby. The Duchess and the baby are sneezing occassionally because of there`s certainly too much house`s cook.

She is a character who spends a lot of time with Alice, they become good friends.

CHESSHIRE CAT.

It is a large cat which is sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear. Alice asks the Chesshire cat to indicate her the way she ought to goes and it speaks her about the paw of a Hatter and the paw of a March Hare.

It`s a kind of friend of Alice, it speaks to her, it is genial and kind.

It`s a character who attracks attention because disappears, and it is something fantastic things likes children.

MARCH HARE.

It has a house that the chimmeys are shaped like ears and the roof es thatched with fur. It´s a large house.

It´s a character who is very mad, it´s always with a Hatter and a Dormouse having tea, but their cups are always empty. It and the Hatter ask to Alice riddles, it says a lot of tongues twist and the riddles are without answers.

HATTER.

He has the same characteristics than March Hare. He is mad, he tells riddles with no answers and he is always having cups of tea without tea. It`s always the tea time.

DORMOUSE.

It`s sitting between the Hatter and the Hare, it is always sleeping and it seems to be talking in his sleep.

THREE GARDENERS.

They are cards. They are painting some roses because it ought to have been a red rose-tree and they put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen es to find it out, they should all have their heads cut off. They are three characters who fear the Queen because of her great authority. They are under sentence of execution.

THE QUEEN.

She is the Queen of Hearts card. She has a lot of authority, all her obsesion is cut off everybody´s heads. She is like a wild beast, she is always screaming and she´s upper the king.

KNAVE.

He always follows the Queen, he is accused to steal some tarts which made the Queen.

KING.

He´s considerer than the Queen. He is not agree with the sentences of executions ordered by his wife.

THE MOCK TURTLE.

It´s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from.It has a history that knows the Queen. It´s a sad and lonely creature. It looks at somebody with large eyes full of tears, but it says nothing. It tells Alice its history about when it was a real turtle, when it was at school.

It has a pig´s head and a turtle´s body.

GRYPHON.

It presents Mock Turtle to Alice.It discusses all the time with the Mock Turtle about the Lobster Quadrille.

LOBSTER.

The Lobster Quadrille is a sort of dance, it consist in form into a line along the sea-shore, each with a lobster as a partner, change lobsters,andretire insame order. The lobsters with a bound into the air as far out to sea as you can, swim after them, change lobsters again, back to land again

LINGUISTIC STUDY

Narrative voice

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a tale for children narrated in third person. The narrative voice knows each feeling, movement, and thought of all the characters that appear in the story we are studying. Actually, he is an omniscient and all-knowing voice who travels into the characters and tells us details from their pasts, their present moments and trys to forecast about their futures.

The narration is written in the present tense and it is characterised by constant jumps of narrative voices. The main narrative voice, which is the crux of this story, hands over the voice to the other characters that appear in the novel. All these characters take the first person and very often build a dialogue in which Alice usually takes part. What is more, dialogue appears everywhere in the novel given a significant importance to all of these characters.

Vocabulary

There is a lot to say about the original use of words in this fantastic tale. Lewis Carroll invented this story when boating on the Thames, but what we read is not really the same words he said to Alice and her two sisters. Lewis Carroll worked on this tale much more than we think, he corrected mistakes, he asked friends to read it in order to express their opinions, to see what people liked to read, and to create the perfect tale.

One of the most important aspects of the tale, as far as language is concerned, is the use of nonsense. Edward Lear in his A Book of Nonsense (1846) first ideated this term twenty years before Lewis Carroll, influenced by Lear, published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In this way we can see how Carroll did not invent everything by himself but was helped by the ideas of other writers.

All these kinds of nonsense words make you think of real things suggested by simply sound.

Lewis Carroll clearly enjoyed making up new words and sounds. There is no point in asking for precise definitions of words like uffish, tulgey, brillig or frabjous: they do not have a dictionary meaning. Any meaning they do have for us is what they suggest through their sound. The best example of nonsense words is the Jabberwocky poem.

We have to mention the multiple meaning words which Carroll uses a lot, but more than multiple meaning words, what Carroll uses are portmanteau words. In the second part of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, is explained to Alice the meaning of the opening lines of Jabberwocky:

“Twas brilling, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.”

“Slithy”, is explained as lithe and slimy; that is why is called a portmanteau, there are two meanings packed up into one word. A portmanteau consists of a fusion of two or more pre-existing words.

In the Jabberwocky poem, the sound of words may be used purely for amusement or, quite seriously, as a means of suggesting a particular feeling or mood. It is interesting to read it in order to imagine the pictures the sounds conjure up. The sounds of the words often suggest such vivid meanings that nonsense poetry may not a fair description.

Another interesting fact is the use of homophones that makes the story much more enjoyable. One of the best examples is the poem of the mouse when explaining to Alice a sad tale. Here tale and tail are confused by Alice because they are homophones and for this reason, translating the story into other languages becomes very difficult. For example, in Spanish, this scene is translated like this:

“Mine it is a long and sad tale”

“Mi historia tiene mucha cola”

As we can see the essence of the sentence has lost all its fun.

Sometimes writers arrange their writing in such a way that words actually make an outline picture or recognisable shape on the page, which helps us to see more clearly what is being described. That is why we cannot forget to mention the caligram Carroll uses for the mouse poem. It is clear to see how he uses a tail shape to tell Alice its tale. The reason a poet uses a caligram is that he can consider the shape of his poem to be an amusing word-game, or as an important device to help the reader understand his meaning.

Nowadays we can see the importance of Carroll's tale on English language speakers because a lot of words never heard previously are now used thanks to Carroll. And what is more, there are many expressions that appeared after the book was published which are commonly used in modern-day speech, such as:

As mad as a hatter

As mad as a March hare

To smile like a Chesire cat

Off with his/her head.

After reading and studying the vocabulary of the book we can affirm that Carroll had a great imagination and a well-formed intelligence that he used to adapt new words to the situations Alice lived. Maybe the world of dream helped him to build all these invented words.

SIMBOLISM AND CURIOUS THINGS

- It has been told that when Alice is falling in the warren she is retreating to her first childhood, but she is advancing in time till the moment she enter in social adults world.

- After swimming in her own tears' sea she meet an animals' assembly that clearly represents the English parliament.

- The rabbit and the caterpillar represent a contradiction. The rabbit is always hurried like the actual man and the caterpillar just the opposite.

- It also known that the Duchess is a cartoon of the Duchess of Kent.

- The mighty tea with the hatter and the march hare is a parody of the social convention which represents the tea. They say that the clock is stopped at six, the tea hour. We know that nowadays in England you can drink tea at any time.

- One curious thing about Alice is that all of us imagine her with long blonde hair, but the real Alice Liddell was black hair.

- The animals of the assembly are really the group of people that went with Carroll in a ship trip. The Duck is Duckworth the parson, the Lory is Lorina Liddell, Alice sister, the Eaglet is the other sister of Alice, Edith, and finally the Dodo is Carroll, his surname Dodgson sometimes was marked by himself “Do-do-dodgson”.

- Chessire is an English county known for its cheese. In Victorian Age these cheeses were modeled with the form of a great smiling cat. Here it is why Carroll named the cat like that.

- In the suits of the English pack of cards the pikes are the gardeners, the clovers are the soldiers, the diamonds are the nobility and the hearts are the royal family.

- In the tale of Carroll the gryphon and the mock turtle are a satire of the sentimental pupils there were in Oxford University.

PERSONAL OPINION

We all believe that this story is entertaining and funny and we like it. It's very suitable for children because it can make them think about it and set free their imagination. Moreover, they can have a good time reading it because it's a child classic.

In this story, many characters are animals, which can speak and behave like men (even they dress like men). We think this makes the story nicer and funnier. This is the same case as the fables of Samaniego and Esopo: they are full of animal characters to make the story easier to read and understand, and finally it teaches a moral lesson.

The moral of Alice in Wonderland could be this one: “keep your childhood inside you forever and don't lost it”. Perhaps this is what Lewis Carroll wanted to say to everybody just because he knew children, when they grow, lost their imagination and then they come in a world where people who use it is taken as a mad. In adult's world there's no room for Wonderland, only in children's world.

Carroll was a serious and mathematician man and, with Alice, he pretended to show us that he hadn't lost his imagination. That's the reason why Carroll wrote Alice's story firstly for children, to prevent them, but for adults too.

Although many people can see critics everywhere in the book, it's no use looking for them. You only have to enjoy reading it and nothing else.

Finally we want to mention that nowadays the television is playing a big role on our lives and, as it has happened with other fairy tales, there are several films about Alice. So many children prefer watching them instead of reading the book; and they are completely wrong. Parents should encourage them to read it so that you can form in your mind your own images of the book, than watching a film where everything is done for you.