Alice in Wonderland is a classic tale of a daydreaming little girl who goes on an adventure lost in the chaos of her own thoughts and fantasies. Children everywhere have marveled over the story for a century and a half since it’s publishing in 1865. Upon my own reading of the book, I considered the whimsical nature of the book and wondered whether all of the insanity was truly just insanity. Were there meant to be undertones of real world problems in all of that nonsense? Was the author suffering from delusions due to illness or using hallucinogens? Are characters in the book meant to be references to certain drugs? These are all common rumors that are often mentioned whenever Alice in Wonderland comes out in conversation. As it turns out, rumors are just rumors. Upon personal research, I discovered that a lot of these myths came about during the 1960’s and in fact Lewis Carroll, or by his true name Charles Dodgson, first recited the tale to his daughter before being prompted by her to write the story down. No drugs, no delusions, no political undertones, just whimsy and nonsense.
Reflecting on the story after learning this, it was much easier to look at it with the same childlike wonder that so many kids have over the years. It’s easy to get caught up in the confusion of Wonderland. It’s fascinating but in reality is not a very happy story, nor does it have the happiest ending. Sure, Alice escapes the trial by waking up but is the real world all that happy? She misses her cat but fails to mention her family beyond the boringness of the book her sister was reading to her. If the book lacks a sensible storyline, contains many bouts of tears for the main character, and fails to deliver a truly happy ending, why is it so popular? Although the majority of the book seems like pure absurdity, it’s easy to become attached to Alice. The story follows her through a lot of uncertainty and she often experiences strong emotions due to her confusion. No one appears to want to help her and any time she questions the absurdity of a situation, the other characters become angry or simply ignore her. It’s this attachment to Alice and the desire for her to find her way out safely that keeps us reading and wanting to see how she’ll work her way out of whatever nonsensical predicament comes up next. Walt Disney’s creation of the movie version of the book only amplified the story’s popularity and made it a classic children’s movie as well. Alice in Wonderland is wonderful tale full of whimsy and the curiosity of a child that will continue to be a classic children’s story in the coming generations.
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