The Adventures of Rediscovering Alice
Recently, I had the pleasure of rereading Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. I had not read the book since 5th grade, so I thought I could use a refresher, especially with the upcoming show.
The first thing I noticed was how significantly darker the book seemed than the first time I read it. Although, as a fifth grader you tend to see everything as a happy story, with many deeper, complex elements going over your head.
Most of the characters that Alice meets along her journey have a tendency to become easily offended, feel the need to contradict her, or question her thought process and her perception of the world around her. At first the reader and Alice find the talking animals quite amusing, but after a while, you want the animals to shut up. Each encounter seems to weigh on her confidence, to the point where she questions who she really is, or what her real size is. Though, her changing size results from the curiosity of tasting an assortment of tarts, drinks, and mushroom pieces.
As the reader journeys though the novel, you cannot help but to compare the series of events with the 1950s Disney movie. You notice that some scenes, the best ones in my opinion, are left untouched and true to the novel. These include the caterpillar scene, the mad tea party, and the crochet match. In these sections, the I found myself hearing the Disney character voices and songs in my head. For example, when Alice first meets the playing cards in the garden, Disney’s “Painting the Roses Red” song comes to mind immediately.
Notice, that Disney only included the parts of the novel that were more whimsical, understandable, and kid friendly. The bizarre Duchess, her pepper loving cook, and her baby who later turns into a pig are absent in Disney’s cartoon. Personally, I found the duchess character odd and can easily understand why she was not included in Disney’s version. When the reader first meets the Duchess, she brushes Alice the wrong way, being obscenely rude. Oddly, later when Alice runs into the Duchess during the crochet match, the Duchess acts sweetly nice with Alice, agreeing with everything Alice pondered.
Disney also excluded the mock turtle and the gryphon who tell the story of the Lobster Quadrille. I personally found their story enjoyable, but it does not add anything to the plot otherwise. I feel that Carroll used it as a filler insert anywhere in the novel. Disney possibly could have felt the same, which is why it’s not in the movie.
Many avid Disney fans may notice Tweedledee and Tweedledumb missing in Carroll’s original novel. However, they do appear in the Alice sequel, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ where they recite their poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’. Disney uses parts from both “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and its sequel.
Any adult reading, or rereading, this novel at some point would ask “What on earth was Lewis Carroll on when he wrote this book?” Some people believe that he was on drugs that would give him hallucinations that inspired scenes in the book. On the other hand, Carroll could have had a medical condition that caused hallucinations which consequently has been renamed Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, because of Carroll and how outlandishly the book presents itself. Or, Carroll simply had a wild imagination with the ability to create stories to entertain children.
The best part of rediscovering “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” was rereading my favorite parts. I forgot how funny the Hatter and the March Hare are during their never-ending tea party. You forget how ridiculous the Cheshire Cat is popping in and out of the story, never truly answering any of Alice’s questions. Overall, you rediscover the joy of being a silly, whimsical kid.
Guest Blogger – Jessie Frazier #2
The Adventures of Rediscovering Alice