Posted by: Derek_M | October 28, 2009

The Common Misconception of Labels

Summary of key part of this chapter:

After Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in a ‘hopeless’ situation. She searches for a long time to find the exit where the golden key can be used to open the door,  but there is only one problem. The way out requires her to be very small and she is definitely not fifteen inches tall. Once she has cried for a certain amount of time she finally notices a bottle on the ground that says drink me. Without much speculation, Alice drinks the bottle and almost immediately becomes fifteen inches tall. When she finally gets back to the door, she realizes her major mistake. She left the key on the table. She becomes upset again, until suddenly a piece of cake appears with a label that says eat me. She does so instantly, but becomes very large. Now due to the fact that she did not speculate against the labels in her time of need, she is in a more dire situation than before.


This situation is very much like society today. When a person sees something with words on it, there is often a lot less speculation than there should be. This is Carroll’s first major drug reference, as proved by Alice’s observation, “However this bottle was not marked “poison” so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice, she very soon finished it off.” Once Alice has become small she is faced with another labeled item, a small piece of cake was on the floor under the table when she forgot her key. When she does decide the possible outcome she relates herself to many of the people who try drugs today. In a time of need, people often resort to trying things more than once, without any speculation. This is seen by Alice’s quote, “Well I’ll eat it ,” said Alice, “and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door…and I don’t care which happens.” This is just more proof that if the hurt or potential danger is not apparent to the tester the first time, they are more likely to try it a second time. You can not believe everything you read and always be cautious in what you intake because it may just put you in a more desperate situation than you were in the first place.



  1. Like Hagen I also did not notice the drug reference. When I first read this blog it helped me view this scene in a different perspective. As anyone who started this story knows Alice is a little girl. In the book it says children are likely to try things as long as there are words that reassure that he or she will not suffer any kind of harm when the action has been completed. I wonder if Alice was an adult would he still make her do the same action he made little Alice do? Or would he portray an adult to be wiser and evaluate the circumstance. Though Charles portrays Alice as a person who easily does stuff as long as there is some sort of reassurance that she will not be harmed, he does not make Alice look completely ignorant. To back up my previous statement he makes Alice look for a sign labeled poison. This proves that Alice is aware to a certain degree of the dangers of the world and tries to evade certain circumstances that will put her in harm. I found it interesting how Charles uses this scene to somewhat mock human beings in his life period as gullible and sometimes to trusting. Even today few costumers look in depth before buying a product. We just naturally trust that the ingredients on the back or side of the product are true and do no further investigation on the topic. In a perfect world we could trust everything that is advertised but we don’t live in a perfect world. This being said, I believe that Charles is trying to say that sometimes we are too trusting of our surroundings.

  2. The drug reference was something I, personally, did not notice, unlike Derek. That is a very good point that in time of need people resort to doing things more than once, and in this case the ‘thing’ that Alice uses twice for comfort are the ‘drugs.’ The drink and the cake as drugs is a reference that I can see now because that Derek brought forth this idea. Alice is indifferent on whether or not the drink or cake does anything to her (which Derek explains) and this is also like actual drug users. This is one of those “shout-outs” to adults, that these simple objects are possibly drugs that alter her physically. I have never heard of drugs that alter size as drastically as what happens to Alice, but people begin to act different with the use of drugs; according to what I have heard. These ‘drugs’ that Alice has taken, since they are in a different ‘world,’ may be actual drugs that alter her size drastically. I think Derek is very insightful in what he noticed in the first chapter of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. His observations of these seemingly simple objects go hand-in-hand with the entire seemingly simple story.

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