Why Not?

Double Meaning? by Hersh T.
October 29, 2009, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Abstract, Hersh

Did Carroll write this as simply a children’s story as so many believe, or was it truly an anecdote that we must analyze until we understand the meaning of the word “the” in context?

Gilbert K. Chesterton makes a good point when he says that Alice was becoming “Cold and monumental” and that “Alice is now not only a schoolgirl but a schoolmistress.”

Do we analyze and record all the chess moves? Or is that a little crazy?

The fact of the matter is that there is a level of analysis where we must realize that maybe even the author did not intend to make the point that we have drawn from reading it. The fact that there are people recognizing this is good however, when they say that we must stop to “preserve” the true value of the story they are being a little intransigent. Once we get to that point we realize that the author may not have meant that we can continue our analysis with a sense of separation. It is very interesting to see what different people with their different experiences can see when they read the same thing, versus someone else with different experiences.

But in the middle of all of this is the idea of not understanding. There is a level of analysis that may go too far but there is a certain level that we can all agree upon, that is necessary. For example, when a friend says something, another friend laughs, and no one else understands what is going on, the level of understanding is very limited. However when that friend explains the joke, the joke loses some of its quality. I think that the loss of some quality is worth at least understanding the joke, versus simply laughing because it seems like the right thing to do. Similarly, if we do not understand all the references that Carroll is making, then we will not be able to fully enjoy the wit and mastery over language that he possesses.

As such, sending Alice to become a “schoolmistress” may not be such a bad idea.

2 Comments so far
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You said that you felt “blindfolded” as a kid. Does feeling blindfolded feel better than seeing it for what it truly is? Ignorance is bliss, however at a certain point we must stop pretending that we don’t know what is truly going on and see the world for what it is. You can only be innocent for so long.

Comment by Hersh T.

When I first saw Alice in Wonderland when I was younger, I remember thinking how wonderful and enchanting the story and the vivid colors were. Now that I’m reading the actual story, and seeing how Carroll’s was not so much of a “children’s” story, I feel as if I was blindfolded as a kid. Of course, adults (and Disney) don’t want 6 and 7 year old’s knowing about the dark sides of a fairytale and Carroll’s interesting word choices. I think that analyzing the story takes away from the delight, joy, and true childhood innocence towards the story. Let Carroll’s craziness spew out all over the page, just like it already does.

Comment by Beth A.

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