Posted by: Brittany M | November 20, 2009

Fantasy Nightmares

Hersh has inspired me in his post, Dream Ending? Oh, Please. He brought up the fact of how authors often introduce us to amazing fantasy worlds that later end in the traditional “It was all just a dream.”

This frustrates me to no end.

I do not understand why authors will take away the escape to another world and bring us back to reality. We often read books for the sake of escaping reality ,but for one reason or another they often tend to bring us straight back to where we started. It seems as though they fear so much of how people may perceive their creative works that they feel as though they must bring it back to something that they can explain. This brings me back to that people always try make everything have a reason.

Why can’t Wonderland be a real place, even if it’s only real for 125 pages?

I think our imagination is bigger than we give ourselves credit for and because it is so easy to become wrapped up in the fantasy we fear becoming lost to reality and what people may think. When you think about it, it’s always an easy way out without being seen as insane. Or maybe they all end in it was all a dream because, well because they can. I mean who says stories can’t go from reality to dream to reality.



  1. I see what you are saying about how we are put back in normal society after going through a magical new land. We must go back to reality to feel secure. As humans that live in society, reality is all we know. It is a security thing, like a baby’s blanket. Reality is the baby’s blanket for adults. As silly as that sounds, that is what I believe is the reason. We like that magical world, but we have to return to reality to know that it is there.

    There is also another reason we must go back to reality. It keeps the reader/viewer optimistic. There is a possibility for the chance of a magical world. All readers/viewers must want this felling; to go home and say, “I wish that world was real.” Reality is rudimentary and worse than that magical world, so we must go back to reality to juxtapose reality’s oddity and the magical land’s possibility and awe. Reality is our reference, to see that the magical world is better.

  2. I agree with you Brittany. Think about it, Wonderland has really become a reality to all of us right now. In our minds, at least in mine, I can fully picture Wonderland and Alice. It is really easy for us to get lost in the adventure and then it comes to an abrupt halt by simply becoming a dream. A simple reason why Carroll may have ended the story as a dream was because it is the easiest way out. He was not only telling the story, he was telling the story to a young girl who many claimed he was in love with. Would he really want to tell the young girl a story with a bad outcome?
    Still, it is interesting to think what would have become of Alice if it all wasn’t just a dream. Do you think she would have gone mad or become like the rest of the characters?

  3. Sometimes you have to come back to reality. Otherwise the fantasy isn’t a fantasy. It becomes a reality and creating a new reality is never the goal. The goal is to create an unrealistic world where anything can happen and sometimes it is so unreal that it can only happen in our dreams.

    How do you think the story should have ended?

    • I would have liked for Wonderland to have become an existing escape such as Narnia is. I like how you bring up that it would have become another reality but it would have become a fantsy type reality which still turns out to be an escape from the actual reality of the world we live in.

  4. I may be wrong but I think that is the point. Tell me something When you first read Alice (or watched the movie) did you say at the end “Ohh, if it wasn’t only a book” or “Ohh, if only the movie was real?” most likely not. More likely was that your dreams and imagination were full to bursting with the characters of Alice. The Cheshire cat, the red queen, and the mad hatter, all of these characters seemed all too real at the time. So my question is “Just because it was a dream… does it make it any less real?” Just because Alice never actually fell down the Rabbit hole, does it mean the emotions, and hilarity enjoyed during her stay in Wonderland was a lie? As “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” will attest to, Reality is not the defining point of whether things are real or not.

  5. I agree with you on the fact that authors drive me insane when ending a book or story by saying, “Then they woke up.” For this reason alone, it makes me not even enjoy some fantasy books. But all in all I believe the author is just making the “reality check” happen a page sooner. I mean honestly I hate it but the fact is once you read that famous and irritating quote: “Then they woke up,” you have just then ended the book and once you turn that last page over…. BAM…your back to reality. So I guess that Carroll is making the irritation happen a page earlier then if Alice would have never woken up and just stayed in Wonderland. Who knows?

  6. I totally agree with you. I hate when authors use the excuse it was all a dream to end a story. Sometimes I think that they just can’t come up with a creative way to end the story because up til then their story was amazing and they don’t want to let everyone down, but they do. Why can’t authors just let us live in our dream world? Also good point Beth, but sometimes we just need a little cloud nine for a couple of days.

  7. LOVE this blog 🙂 It irritates me to no end that authors always seem to have to ruin a perfectly good fantasy by dragging us back into the real world. A lot of the time I read to escape the real world for a while, and having a character do the exact same thing I’m doing is monotonous and bland. I mean, when a person reads a book, they go from reality, to a fantasy, and back to reality when they finish. But having the characters do the exact same thing is a bit much for me, and apparently a few other people too. I do like Kathy’s comment though. It IS easier to relate when an author does this, but when EVERY author does it, it’s over-kill.

  8. Brittany, I agree with you on how frustrating it is when stories come back into reality. Also, Beth makes a good point. We have to come back to reality because that is just the way the world works. We can’t live forever in a fantasy world. We wish we could, but it just is not real. That is the difference between kids and adults. Kids can believe in any fantasy they want, simply because they are children. But for adults, we are forced to face reality and to embrace it because otherwise we will not last in the “real world.” Maybe Carroll knew that. He is allowing children to dream and to fantasize. But he also knows that,sadly, we must all wake up. When we get so into a story, we start to compare it to the real world. I think Carroll knew that his story would affect both children and adults. So, he had to send adults back to reality.

  9. I think in many cases authors choose to make their characters return to reality because it makes them more relatable. Think about it, even in “Harry Potter”, Harry always goes home from Hogwarts. If he didn’t, and was just stuck there with no connection to the world as we, the readers, know it, then how could little kids dream of going to Hogwarts? The fact that Harry does have a “normal” world makes it easier for us to see ourselves going where he does, because, in the end, it’s just a great adventure, and aside from that adventure his life is just like ours.

    The same goes for Alice, I think. Little kids will probably wish to go to Wonderland more if, afterwards, they can return home to their families, friends, and pets.

    In every story that I can think of that has some sort of magical place, the characters always return home, although maybe not forever. Take Harry Potter, Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, or Alice, it’s all the same. Though, I am with you on the part about having Alice (or any character in any story) just wake up from a dream at the end; I think there could have been a better ending than that that would accomplish the same thing.

  10. It’s also possible that Carroll feared being criticized or considered insane for thinking up a world like this. Maybe he thought if he made it a dream people wouldn’t think it reflected his mental stability as much as if he made it a real world.

    What Beth is saying also makes sense. Sometimes you have to bring children back to reality or else they will continue to float away in the dream world. I used to watch the movie all the time when I was little and I would always turn it off right when she was about to wake up so that I could believe that it was all real. Then when I got older I watched it all over again and was surprised to see it was all a dream.

  11. Maybe Carroll wanted to bring Alice back to reality? Letting that little girl’s imagination run wild, but in the end, we all must “wake up” in every situation. For one thing we may be floating on cloud 9, but in the end we have to brace ourselves with reality, and that our imaginations and fantasies are real, just not as real as we want them to be.

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