* NOTICE: Mr. Center's Wall is on indefinite hiatus. Got something to say about it? Click HERE and type.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Alice in Wonderland XV -- chapter 11 & 12: ALICE GROWS UP

Portrait of Alice Liddell,
by Charles Dodgson
The trial is the final scene before Alice awakes and book ends.  While there are some points of interest through the course of the trial, the real discussion begins at its completion with the few paragraphs of epilogue of the older sister's dream of Alice's dream.  It is here in this final moment that Carroll makes another anonymous appearance, this time seemingly to wave goodbye.

  1. Wonderland is not a large place.  Nearly all of its characters are present in the trial, or appeared, also recently, at the croquet game.
  2. Alice imagines the the animals out of the juror box will not survive, as surely as goldfish out of their bowl will not survive.  This is very much like the creatures of Wonderland and the "bowl" of Alice's dream.
  3. Alice's growth through the second half of chapter 11 and through the end of the trial in chapter 12 is unmotivated by any contrivances of the dream.  She is growing on her own.  As Carroll controls the elements of the dream and Alice is growing independently of it and him, might this not symbolize the very maturing of Alice that Carroll dreads?  The Dream--his dreams of her, his wish for a different reality--will inevitably conclude.
  4. In Carroll's eye, is Alice perhaps the guilty one--the one who committed, and as unwittingly as any Wonderland creature, the crime? tarts and hearts, and whoever stole them?
  5. (42 is a bit of a magic number for Carroll and other writers, including Douglas Adams.)
  6. The verses read by W. Rabbit (or maybe Herald/Harold?) is the second layer of parody of a near-thoroughly buried original song (below), the first of which was published by Carroll as "She's All My Fancy Painted Him."
  7. Notice that in Tenniel's final illustration (of which there are 42, by the way) W. Rabbit has lost his costume, and the cards, with the exception of a few noses, have lost their personifications.
  8. What is the determining factor (for it's not the trial) that wake's Alice?
  9. Alice's older sister, I think, is channeling Carroll here at the end.  She re-dreams (remembers fondly, really) Alice's experiences and adventures, and is generally idealized by her.  Remember, this book was written as a gift for Alice.  The dream seems to me to be a dramatization of time spent together by Alice and Carroll.  Unfortunately, and no matter how beautiful, wonderful, confusing, or terrible, dreams end; and dreams like this tend to end most commonly when their subject grows up.  The beauty of a pleasant dream is that it is forever idealized (like Carroll's own idealization of it through the here-unnamed older sister) by she who had it.  Alice will remember it fondly forever, regardless of what may or may not happen through her future within reality.  (Interestingly, the way its all put together, and appropriately so, the dream is more Carroll's than Alice's, yet it is Alice who ends it.)
from John Shaw's booklet 
(I don't know more about it than this)
She's all my fancy painted her,
She's lovely, she's divine,
But her heart it is another's,
She never can be mine.

Yet loved I as man never loved,
A love without decay,
O, my heart, my heart is breaking
For the love of Alice Gray.

Drawing by Carroll in his hand-penned
copy of Alice's Adventures Underground

This portrait of Alice
was pasted into the
original book over
the drawing above.


  1. Oh good, I read both last night, and I thought I'd be ahead.

    3. Is she growing up? Or is she just finally speaking out against the absurdity of the grown-ups? The evidence that she is growing up is how she physically grows bigger, which, I agree, is pretty convincing. On the other hand, most of the non-Alice characters seem to represent adulthood. I'm not sure what to make of it.
    4. That's interesting. I'd have to think about it, but I think that I agree.
    8. Her older sister. So maybe it is a representation of maturity dragging her along out of Wonderland.
    9. Yeah, Carroll definitely hijacks the older sister here and imbues her character with his hopes and (of course) dreams for Alice.

  2. 3. By growing up, I mean growing generally in a direction where Carroll will not be able to follow without limits. As far as the divide between Alice and the non-Alice characters, well, the dream is breaking apart, and, really, they've almost more a part of the scenery--the setting (which is itself a major character, but not necessarily entirely divided from the characters it houses) --which has only been a ... sorry ... matrix for Carroll's dream where she might come.
    4. This is not something that's occurred to me before. I have to think about it as well.


Be sure to subscribe to the thread to receive discussion updates.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...