Why Not?

Different vs. Normal, Reality vs. Imaginary by Hersh T.
October 28, 2009, 1:27 am
Filed under: Abstract, Hersh

In the beginning of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as Alice is sitting and feeling very “sleepy and stupid” she notices a white rabbit with pink eyes run by her. Now, even just this is rather unnatural as this might be an albino rabbit. Now the idea of albinism is that the skin cannot produce the pigment necessary to darken the skin color of an animal, or human. The rather curious thing however is that Carroll says, “There was nothing so very remarkable in that.” If we take his word then the appearance of an albino rabbit or rather what “albino” represents then we can assume that he is trying to tell us something. The acumen exhibited by Alice following the discovery that the rabbit talks seems to have been impaired by the heat and laziness she feels.

The next part of the sentence where Alice does not it think it too weird to hear the rabbit talk to itself brings into question the true unnaturalness of the albinism. If hearing a rabbit talk is not very remarkable then obviously an albino rabbit is not out of the norm. However if hearing a rabbit talk is rather unnatural then the albino rabbit is rather weird. In a rather discrete manner, the rabbit appeared to take out his pocket-watch and continue on his way.

Now the conclusion that can be drawn from this series of events is that first and foremost, the albino idea is representative of anything out of the ordinary, and second that true imagination and fanciful thinking can be more powerful than reason in certain situations.

It seems as though this idea of different and imagination as more powerful than reality pervade this book. Continuing along in the story we find that Alice follows the rabbit to his rabbit hole and plunges in after him. At first we think she has to land soon but she continues falling and continues and continues. It seems like hours or maybe even a day. And as she is falling she manages to pluck a jar and put it back. Now common sense dictates that this is impossible. However, once again, it seems as though the unrealistic nature of the fall is exactly what Carroll is getting at. The idea that this is simply a child’s story has been refuted many times. We can always go back to that however that destroys the magic that is Alice in Wonderland. The magic, reality bending, and simple the difference from most other stories lends itself to Alice. She becomes to possess an almost god-status. Whatever she needs is provided for example, the DRINK ME and EAT ME, drink and cake respectively. This seemingly safe imbibement turns into being something that changes her whole size. This is simply remarkable and seems to be a bad example for all posterity or the future generations. The mite of a person she becomes when she is only ten inches tall brings in the idea that Carroll believes size to be simply a path to something better. Size is an obstacle in our path. For example when Alice needed to get the golden key at the top of the table when she was extremely small her attempt ended in a fiasco. The eating of the cake allowing her to grow tall the let her get the key but she is now unable to enter the small door.

Her tears (as she is simply a child) pour down and when she shrinks back down in response to the rabbit’s rather tangential fan she is automatically ensconced in a cataclysm. Her tears are like an ocean. Her encounter with the mouse is also rather strange as it encompasses the idea of how being polite and kind is necessary no matter if it is the real world or simply imaginary. When she says cat the mouse reproaches her and asks her to put herself in his shoes so she can understand why he dislikes the word. This invocation of the golden rule shows a simple way to get across a very very important message. Overall these first few chapters are loaded with ideas that transcend the raw story. I can not wait to see what happens next!

2 Comments so far
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I think you’ve made a great observation by comparing the ideas of reality and imagination. I also found it peculiar that when Alice is talking about noticing the rabbit, she only really notices the rabbit when it pulled out a pocket-watch from it’s waistcoat-pocket. So that means that the first thing to catch Alice’s attention were the rabbit’s red beady eyes rather than his clothing. Later on she does say it was strange that the rabbit was even wearinng a waist coat. Her instinctive feeling of “burning curiosity” is also a bit strange. Wouldn’t a little girl like Alice be afraid of something like that? Yes children are innocent and follow their imaginations, but most have that instinctive fear in them of things different and new. Obviously Alice did not, so maybe we can credit this to the heat and boredom that she was feeling. This may have altered her perception of what her standard of ‘normal’ or out of the ordinary really is.

I would also like to disagree with your idea of Alice having “god-status”. She wasn’t the being that was making all of those magical things happen. I believe there was another mysterious force that was guiding her along her journey. This parallels with Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero’s Journey, where the herione gets aid from a supernatural force.

To read more about this idea read Melissa’s analysis of Alice’s journey as a hero.

Comment by Sylvia A.

This is some in-depth thinking, really reading between the lines. I see what you’re getting at with the idea of the white rabbit being out of the ordinary, and perhaps it is trying to prepare the reader for all the “different” things to come when Alice falls into Wonderland.

Maybe when Carroll mentioned the white rabbit isn’t very remarkable may be a part of the fact that white rabbits such as the ones in the story aren’t that uncommon; white does seem to be pretty natural in domestic breeds.

I also saw when you mentioned that this is just a child’s story, and that raised my alarms. I had this idea in the back of my mind and when you put it down into your blog, I had to spend some more time thinking of it. T

here are many childhood stories that don’t necessarily make sense, but are popular because they spark the imagination.

Why is this one so different? Maybe we’re just over-analyzing? Good Thinking

Comment by Alex D.

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