Alice in Wonderland
ed. William Collin and Sons, Glasgow, 1954 and 1984
About the story
Alice in Wonderland is the story of a girl’s dream when she falls asleep on the countryside. It is subdivided into twelve small stories or “adventures”, the one following the other one:
Alice remarked a white rabbit in the grass, wearing white gloves, a waistcoat and a watch. The rabbit was always talking to itself:”Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late”, running fast into the rabbit hole watching his watch. Alice followed the rabbit and fell trough a long tunnel covered which bookshelves and orange marmelade. At the end of the tunnel, she came into a long hall plenty of doors, just fitting her size. The Rabbit ran down the hall and disappeared. At the end of the hall, there appeared to be a three-legged table with a bottle on it, and a small door. Through the door, Alice could see a very beautiful garden.
Since the bottle was not marked “poison” but “drink me”, she drank the contents. The product maked her only being ten inches tall. Alice thought that she could enter the little door, but rapidly realizes that she forgot to take the little golden key which lay on the table. Alice started to cry. Under the table she found a little cake marked “eat me”. Alice, hoping to grow again and to be able to take the key, ate it. The effect was that she became like a telescope with a very long neck. She started crying again. Her tears formed a big pool around her.
The Rabbit passed by, still in a hurry and talking about a duchess waiting. When Alice talked to it, it started so that it dropped its gloves and fan. Alice took them up and, keeping the fan, grew to the length of 2 inches. Since the key to the garden was still laying on the table, the situation was even worse. Alice slipped and fell into the tear-pool. In the salted water, she met with a swimming mouse. When Alice started to talk about her cat, the poor mouse got outraged with fear and left Alice behind. Alice promised to talk no longer about cats and dogs, so the mouse came back and led Alice and the other animals (an eagle, a duck, a dodo and a lory) which fell into the pool towards the shore. On the shore, the mouse would be telling why it was afraid of cats and dogs, but started a complicated historical story.
Since nobody was interested in it, they concluded to do a “caucus race” for drying. The Dodo gave the start. Everybody was running around until the dodo said “stop”. It asked who was going to deal the prices. Everybody had won a price. Luckily, Alice found some confits in her pocket which she dealt as prices.
After this race, the Mouse told his story, a very long one. Alice was half asleep and only heard fragments of it. When the mouse saw that she was not attending, he angrily walked away. Alice felt lonely and mentioned her cat Dinah. On these words, all of the animals got away.
The Rabbit passed along again, muttering that the Duchess would kill him. When it saw Alice, it took her for his maid Mary-Ann. It ordered her to go to his house and to fetch another pair of gloves and a fan.
In the living room, Alice found another bottle and drank it. She grew again big and got stuck in the Rabbit’s house. The Rabbit could not enter the living room anymore and therefore tried to enter via the window. Alice caught it and threw the Rabbit down into a cucumber frame. Pat the goose and Bill the lizard were ordered by the Rabbit to help. Pat and the Rabbit tried to enter again via the window, but Alice threw them again in the cucumber glass. Bill tried the chimney but got kicked out by Alice. They threw little stones through the window. Each stone was transformed into a little cake. When Alice ate them, she again grew small and escaped to the forest.
There she met with a puppy. She hided away behind a thistle and with a small wooden stick played with the puppie which was ten times larger than she was.
When the puppie got tired, Alice turned around and found a large mushroom on which sat a Caterpillar smoking a kind of waterpipe. The Caterpillar asked her constantly:”Who are you”, on which question she could answer not directly. She had to tell the story of old father William, growing old, to the Caterpillar. After she did so, the Caterpillar learnt her the sectrets of the mushroom: It has two sides. Eating of one side, made grow and eating of the other side made shrimp again. Alice took two peaces with her, one to grow and one to shrink.
After having tested the mushroom’s effects, she saw a house in the forest and two footmen. It were a Fish-Footman bringing a letter to the Frog-Footman,which latter lived in the house. The message was an invitation for the Duchess from the Queen to a cricket party.Alice asked the Frogman whether she could get into the house. He argued a lot, on which Alice thought that all these animals were allways arguing a lot, without any good reason, since Alice was left to do what she herself wanted.
Finally she went into the house. There she met the Duchess nursing a baby. Her Cook was preparing a soup with very much pepper, so that the baby was sneezing a lot and crying the whole time through. Occasionally, the Duchess sneezed too, except the Cook and a big cat.
The cat appeared to be a Cheshire Cat and was grinning. Alice didn’t know that these cats grinned.
The duchess gave the baby to Alice, saying that she could nurse it for some time. Alice got out with it and it changed into a pig. Since Alice thought that a Pig-Baby must make an ugly child, she set it free and it disappeared.
Suddenly, Alice saw the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree. She asked it where she had to go. The cat answered that this depended on where she wanted to go. Alice could not answer this question, so the cat told her that to the right she would meet the Hatman and to the left the March-Hare.
Alice knew hatmen, so she preferred to go to the March Hare. The Hatman was with the March Hare drinking tea toghether. In between both was a Dormouse, which was most of the time asleep. On the table there were much more teacups than necessary. Alice sat down at the end of the table, and got after many time some tea. They had a very absurd talk about Time. The March Hare was convinced that Time was never exact, so that it always was tea-time. Therefore, the teacups could rotate so that the dirty ones were autaumatically replaced by fresh ones. They also talked about the Queen and what the Hatman had to sing at the Queen’s concert. The Dormouse told a story about three girls living in a well and dying there. This was obvious, since they had no food.
After the hatman was rude against her, Alice left the stupid tea-party and went through a little door in a tree.
There she was again in the hall with the small table. She managed better now to grow and shrimp, so that she finally could cross the little door and came into the beautiful garden.
In this garden , Alice saw three playing cards painting white roses red. She asked them why they did so. They answered that the queen had ordered to plant red roses and that they made a mistake.
Suddenly, there the Queen came with the King, carried by several other playing cards and surrounded by many playing-card soldiers. They were the King and Queen of hearts. The Queen always screamed to the three gardeners cards:”Off with their heads”. Alice helped them escape. The Queen asked who she was. Alice answered very politely. The Queen seemed to like her and invited her on the cricket game.
Alice didn’t dear to refuse, since she was afraid of losing her head. The game was played with hedgehogs as balls and flamingos as stick. The soldiers had to bend with two to make the bows. The playground was so rippled and uneven that it was fearly impossible to score.
When Alice didn’t know what to do anymore, since the Queen didn’t stop shouting to cut ones head off, the Cheshire Cat’s head appeared again asking whether Alice liked the Queen. Since the Queen didn’t know the Cat, she also ordered to cut its head off. But the cat disappeared.
Alice asked where the Duchess was. The Queen told her that she was in jail. But suddenly the Duchess appeared untouched and took Alice with her arm always repeating on what Alice said that there was “moral” in it. When the crual Queen had threatened the very ugly Duchess to cut her head off, the Duchess disappeared quikly.
The game went on. The Queen condemned everybody to be cut off their heads, so that after a while, only Alice. the Queen and the King were left.
The Queen brought Alice to a Griffon and asked the Griffon to tell her stories and to visit the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle was always sobbing and weaping. In between his tears, he had a discussion with Alice about education and school. The Mock Turtle followed indeed the Sea School. Sobbing and losing many tears, it told also the story of the Lobster Quadrille. All sea animals could dance with a lobster, change lobster and throw them very far into the sea. Then the quadrille started again. They could not get lost since in front of the English coast was the French one. It was told by the Mock Turtle with a long song. After the Mock Turtle had been singing another song called “The Beautiful Soup”, the griffon said that they had to go quickly to the process.
At the process, the Knight of Hearts was accused to have stolen the tarts the Queen had made with much pepper. The jury was composed of all kinds of stupid animals Alice met before (they had to write down their names as quick as possible in order not to forget them). The Rabbit appeared to be the accuser and was solemly dressed up standing beneath the King.
The witnesses who were called were the Hatter, the Duchess’s cook and Alice. Nobody brought evidence and allways the Queen ordered to cut the Knight’s head off.
But as a sudden, Alice started to grow again. She realised that all the playing card people were but a game and that all the animels in fact were small ones.
Then she wakes up. Her sister was sitting beneath her. The sounds of the countryside were as the sounds she heard in her dream... She told her dream to her sister, who thought that very much later, she would tell this story in the remindership of her own childhood.
Alice is the main character. She is a well-educated young girl, thinking logically, being careful and courageous. She has got much imagination. Since the description of her character is told in a dream, it might as well not be her proper nature.
There isn’t any relationship with the figures in the story. They come and go, even the Rabbit. The character of the figures is faint and irrealistic. The story tells many abstract things about what each of the figures is thinking, but not in such a way that the real character can be determined.
The setting is the one of a dream: coming up and fainting away, filled with all kind of fantastic surrealistic objects.
The story is of all times. One cannot glue a certain period on it, unless it is just the afternoon sleep of a child.
In fact all themes are striking, since they all differ from the other ones. The everlasting theme is nontheless the girl Alice, looking for her own personality. She often asks the question in her dream of who she really is. She tries to find a place for ranging herself against the strange (queer) and surficial personalities of her dream.
Striking is that Alice is able to defend herself against the stupidity of the other figures. She often ask questions, but doesn’t get the answers. The answers she finds them herself.
The story is steadily going on. One adventure follows the other one. The very timespan covered in the book must be very short, since it is but a dream. There are no flashbacks, nor foreshadowings.
There is not really a climax in the story. Each little adventure has got its own climax for instance the appearance of the Queen in the garden, the Rabbit passing along, the cat appearing and so on.
An outsider tells the story. Maybe Alice’s sister tells it, but since the author is male, it is very much likely that he tells his own dream.