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Outline. Introduction Part I. Lewis Carroll, life and work Part II. Characters and Plot Part III. Adaptations Part I V. Significance Conclusion References. Introduction. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a novel written by English author Lewis Carroll in 1865.

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Part I. Lewis Carroll, life and work

Part II. Characters and Plot

Part III. Adaptations

Part IV. Significance





Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a novel written by English author Lewis Carroll in 1865.

A girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.

The tale is filled with allusions to Carroll's friends; it plays with logic and is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the "literary nonsense" genre.

Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church, e.g., the "Rabbit Hole" which symbolized the actual stairs in the back of the main hall in Christ Church.

part i lewis carroll life and work

Part I. Lewis Carroll, life and work

Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Reverend Charles LutwidgeDodgson, a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, who lived from 1832 to 1898.

Carroll discovered his gift for storytelling in his own youth when he served as the unofficial family entertainer for his five younger sisters and three younger brothers.

part i lewis carroll life and work1

Part I. Lewis Carroll, life and work

Underneath Carroll’s awkward exterior (physical deformities, partial deafness), however, lay a brilliant and imaginative artist.

In 1856, Carroll became close with the Liddell children and met the girl who would become the inspiration for Alice.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland received mostly negative reviews when first published in 1865. Critics and readers alike found the book to be sheer nonsense, and one critic sneered that the book was too extravagantly absurd.

Only John Tenniel’s detailed illustrations garnered praise, and his images continue to appear in most reprints of the Alice books.

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Part I. Lewis Carroll, life and work

Carroll proposed a sequel to his publisher in 1866 and set to work writing Through the Looking-Glass. By the time the second book reached publication in 1871, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland had found an appreciative readership.

In 1881, Carroll resigned from his position as mathematics lecturer at Oxford to pursue writing full time. He composed numerous poems, several new works for children, and books of logic puzzles and games, but none of his later writings attained the success of the Alice books.

Several of his child friends served as inspiration for the Sylvie and Bruno books. Like the Alice stories,

Sylvie and Bruno (1889) and Sylvie and

Bruno Concluded (1898) relied heavily

on children’s silly sayings and absurd fantasies.


Henry George Liddell accepted an appointment as Dean of Christ Church, one of the colleges that comprise Oxford University, and brought his three daughters to live with him at Oxford. Lorina, Alice, and Edith Liddell quickly became Carroll’s favorite companions and photographic subjects. Alice became Carroll’s favorite of the three girls, and he made her the subject of the stories that would later became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.


Alice is a sensible girl from a wealthy English family who finds herself in a strange world ruled by imagination and fantasy.

The tension of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland emerges when Alice’s fixed perspective of the world comes into contact with the mad, illogical world of Wonderland. Alice’s fixed sense of order clashes with the madness she finds in Wonderland.


The Mad Hatter: A small, impolite hatter who lives in perpetual tea-time who enjoys frustrating Alice. He explains to Alice that he and the March Hare are always having tea because, when he tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at a celebration, she sentenced him to death for "murdering the time," but he escapes decapitation. Out of anger at this attempted "murder", Time halts himself in respect to the Hatter, keeping him and the March Hare stuck at 6:00 forever.


The Queen of Hearts a singular force of fear who even dominates the King of Hearts. In her presence, Alice finally gets a taste of true fear, even though she understands that the Queen is merely a playing card. In fact, the Queen never actually executes anyone she sentences to death. She is often confused with the Red Queen from the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, although the two are very different. She is a caricature of Queen Victoria.


The White Queen: appears in Through the Looking-Glass. She could be viewed as a protagonist and ally to Alice, although she is perhaps less helpful than the Red Queen in terms of the information she divulges. Her ability to move so swiftly away from enemies, leaving the White King far behind, reflect on the abilities of a queen in chess, as well as serving as a contrast for the Red Queen's habit of confronting enemies head on.


Absolem, the Caterpillar, tells Alice how to grow and shrink using the mushroom upon which he is sitting.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum: Disney's cartoon twins in their bright, primary color jumpers look like clowns. The twins in Burton’s movie look like thugs.



Alice sits on a riverbank on a warm summer day, when she catches sight of a White Rabbit running by her and exclaiming that he is late.

As he pops down a rabbit hole, she decides to follow him. She finds a bottle marked “Drink Me”, drinks and shrinks down to the right size to enter a small door.

Unable to use the big key, she eats a cake and becomes big again. As she is stuck, she cries and falls into the pool of tears.

She enters Wonderland and pursues the White Rabbit. She meets a Caterpillar who tells her how to gain control over her size by using a mushroom.


Part III. Adaptations

Later, the Cheshire cat explains to Alice that everyone in Wonderland is mad, including Alice herself.

She can realize that when she finds the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse having tea together.

Alice meets the Queen of Hearts and participates in a strange game of croquet and in the trial of the Knave of Hearts.

When she realizes that Wonderland is a sham, she knocks over the playing card court, causing her to wake up and dispel the dream of Wonderland.


Part III. Adaptations

Alice in Wonderland was first adapted for live performances: a musical play by Walter Slaughter was played in 1886 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

Later, the book inspired numerous film and television adaptations. The first cinematic version was the silent film Alice in Wonderland in 1903.

The famous animation film from Disney, Alice in Wonderland, was produced in 1951.

Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton (2010) is an extension of the Lewis Carroll novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The film will use a technique combining live action and animation.

part i v significance

Part IV. Significance

The Tragic and Inevitable Loss of Childhood Innocence

Alice goes through a variety of absurd physical changes. The discomfort she feels at never being the right size acts as a symbol for the changes that occur during puberty.

Alice finds these changes to be traumatic, and feels discomfort, frustration, and sadness when she goes through them. She struggles to maintain a comfortable physical size.

These constant fluctuations represent the way a child may feel as her body grows and changes.

part v significance

Part V. Significance

Statue of Alice in Central park, New York

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Part IV. Significance

Life as a Meaningless Puzzle

Alice encounters a series of puzzles that seem to have no clear solutions, which imitates the ways that life frustrates expectations.

Even though Lewis Carroll was a logician, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland he makes a farce out of jokes, riddles, and games of logic.

Death as a Constant Menace

Death lurks just behind the ridiculous events happening to Alice as a present and possible outcome.

As the Queen screams “Off with its head!” she understands that Wonderland may not be a ridiculous world where expectations are repeatedly frustrated.

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Part IV. Significance


Alice often becomes frustrated by her encounters with the creatures of Wonderland because many of them tend to contradict her or tell her that she is wrong.

The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, both nostalgic for their school days, emphasize the importance of a proper education. They are shocked at Alice's lack of knowledge about basic elements of their educational system and about life under the sea. Both of them tell Alice that she is quite stupid.

In an effort to show the Duchess how intelligent she is, Alice tries to demonstrate why one of the Duchess' morals is flawed. Pleased to have an opportunity to show off her knowledge, Alice starts to give the Duchess a lesson in astronomy. (The Duchess is not the least bit interested in learning from Alice and threatens to have her killed.)



  • Carroll’s feelings of intense nostalgia for the simple pleasures of childhood caused him to feel deep discomfort in the presence of adults.
  • In the company of children, Carroll felt understood and could temporarily forget the loss of innocence that he associated with his own adulthood.
  • Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978 claims that in 1931, the book was banned in Hunan, China, because "animals should not use human language" and it "puts animals and human beings on the same level."




British Library: Original manuscript and drawings by Lewis Carroll First editions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There With 92 Illustrations by Tenniel, 1866/1872.