Posted by: Derek_M | October 30, 2009

Doctor Seuss in Disguise?

not all here

As evident from the very beginning of Annotated Alice, there are multiple instances where insanity is referenced. Carroll seems to approach all of the problems in society. From the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the rabbit to the to the imaginative Attention Deficit Disorder of the Mad Hatter, Alice experiences people and some of their perceived defects in one story. This is where Carroll’s genius comes to play.

As he was writing for a twelve year old girl, he was also showing the difference of reality and ‘Wonderland.’ Maybe he was stressing the emphasis on the difference so that she would make the transition between childhood and adulthood. His references subconciously would fester in the little girl’s mind until she recognized the personal idiosyncrasies about which he was truly writing.  In an intangible way, he was planting a seed in Alice’s mind when he wrote this literary classic for her to realize how the world really is. She had to grow up sometime and even if it was not immediately, it still needed to happen.

Carroll conveys his feelings blatantly with his political and societal jokes, which allow the reader to interpret the story in their own way. For example, his joke in reference to how easily Alice drinks the potion to solve her problem of height conveys the ease of which people can be convinced even without personal confrontation.  The reader needs to be able to connect with a book based on their interests or beliefs. Carroll shows his more skewed, and slighty pessimistic view of the world through this book.

For example, the rabbit hole is the transference between the world of the mundane and the world of the extraordinary. Carroll doesn’t fail to show how the world can be seen through the other side of the spectrum by installing a sense of timelessness and continuity of knowledge. As the generations go by, we become more skeptical of literary knowledge. All of the classics become ‘inappropriate’ or ‘misunderstood’, revealing what we want the story to be due to our crtitical nature. We become more perceptive of the subtleties that may not have existed in the 1800’s, and we assume it was the author’s intent to display this thought process. Once an author relinquishes their work into the world, they are allowing all of the various interpretations to be held and the modern day readers take advantage of this fact.

What do you think? Is Alice just a children’s book, or is it more?

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  1. First of all, I very impressed with the overall analyzation of the insanity and society references in the Annotated Alice. I honestly never thought about the White Rabbit having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or the Mad Hatter having Attention Deficit Disorder. It gives me a new outlook on these characters as I read through the story.
    I can’t help argue the other side of people’s thoughts that Carroll just wrote a book for a little girl and believes analyzing his words just ruins the story. Perhaps Carroll shows the struggle Alice goes through by herself during the confrontation of the bottle and cake that alters her size.

    Although I agree with you that Carroll did have a strategic way of writing a children’s story that conveys his political and social views of the world. I concur that with your observation that one of Carroll’s reasons to write this book was to show how the world really is and the difficulty of transitioning from adolescence to adult hood.
    Feel free to take a look at my “First Thought? Of Course I Ought! (Ch.2)” where I discussed adult wisdom vs. child innocence. It’s another view on the position and I think you would enjoy it.

    I can not wait to read more of your blogs to see your opinions illustrated though these entries.


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