9/15 – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 79-110

1. “In another minute the whole head appeared, and then Alice put down her flamingo, and began an account of the game, feeling very glad she had some one to listen to her” (AA 86).

Though a basic reading, this passage reminded me of my best friend, Mikaela, who always seems to show up when I need someone to listen to my complaints. I wonder if Carroll based the Cheshire-Cat on one of his close friends.

My best friend, Mikky, and I
My best friend, Mikky, and I

2. “[And] they all quarrel so dreadfully one ca’n’t hear oneself speak – and they don’t seem to have any rules in particular: at least, if there are, nobody attends to them – and you’ve no idea how confusing it is all the things being alive” (AA 86).

Our last blog got me thinking about how many of the events and ideas in Alice can pertain to real life. To me, this passage, in particular, reflects the chaotic nature of life in general. Just as Alice desperately wants some form of guidelines to manage the game, we often want life to have rules or just, governing laws that make our lives safe and predictable. However, in reality, with “all the things being alive,” we must navigate the variable and sometimes difficult waves of humanity, for all living creatures have their own agendas and desires.

3. “‘When I’m a Duchess,’ she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone, though), ‘I wo’n’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very well without—Maybe it’s always pepper that makes people hot-tempered,’ she went on, very much pleased at having found out a new kind of rule” (AA 90).

I think one of the most intriguing things about Alice, which this scene portrays, is that she’s a conundrum! On the one hand, she shows some semblance of practicality by recognizing her unlikely chance at becoming a Duchess – “(not in a very hopeful tone, though)” – but within the same minute, she makes the deduction that food gives people their temperament – “Maybe it’s always pepper that makes people hot-tempered.” She can be timid (ex. when approaching strangers, AA 67) or incredibly brave (ex. when she stands up to the queen, AA 82). I guess, in reality, we’re all mysteries, even to ourselves. Perhaps, that’s why Alice is so inexplicably relatable.

4. “‘I’ve a right to think,’ said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried. ‘Just about as much right,’ said the Duchess, ‘as pigs have to fly; and the m—‘ But here, to Alice’s great surprise, the Duchess’s voice died away” (AA 93).

I was a bit perplexed by the Duchess’s disparagement of “thinking” at the start of this chapter. Carroll portrays her as an ugly and undignified character. Possibly, he’s also suggesting that the Duchess supports speaking without first thinking. Or, perhaps, Alice’s “thinking” holds little weight in the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.42.54 AM

5. “‘Why, she,’ said the Gryphon. ‘It’s all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know. Come on!’” (AA 95).

I found this final statement to be incredibly curious, especially considering the footnote, which suggests “nobody” is actually somebody. Either way, from what I have thus read of Alice, Carroll appears quite lexically conscientious, often relying on grammatical or syntactic logic for jokes and arguments. Thus, I find it slightly odd that he doesn’t apply subject/verb agreement here, as the plural subject, “they,” doesn’t agree with the verb conjugation in “executes.” Is Carroll implying that the Gryphon doesn’t know basic grammatical principles? Or does the significance lie in a level of lexical complexity beyond me?

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.51.28 AM

6. “‘Well, I never heard it before,’ said the Mock Turtle; ‘but it sounds uncommon nonsense’” (AA 107).

I love how the Mock Turtle deems Alice’s poem “uncommon” nonsense in a world that is, at its core, nonsensical. It’s as if the Mock Turtle is only willing to go so far in his suspension of disbelief. I wonder what the parameters are for accepted nonsense in Wonderland.

Suspension of disbelief – We once thought this looked “real.” Now, it’s a bit more like nonsense.


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