Hidden Meaning Is Not Required

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is a whole lot of nonsense.

In my opinion, it should not be analyzed. People have taken the simplest of things and have come up with crazy explanations of what they could mean. Everything contained in the annotations represent one man’s opinion. Isn’t it possible for anyone to come up with an idea and put it into the annotations? People state with authority that Carroll intended his characterizations to have underlying representations. But, one doesn’t really know what Carroll intended absent a direct interview with him. Why analyze something that is of no importance to us? This story does not have a significant meaning as Golding did with Lord of the Flies. Golding wanted people to break it down, and discover his point about society and human nature. Carroll wrote this story for a ten year-old girl, not for people to tear it apart and find a deeper meaning.

For instance, in chapter 7, “A Mad Tea-Party”, the reader will find a lot of ramblings and nonsense. It is confusing and makes no sense. In my opinion, it is the weakest part of the book. Yet, it is usually cited as the most enjoyable part for most people due to the upbeat atmosphere. The creativity of this scene is quite interesting to visualize, but unbelievably hard to read. Although it certainly conforms to the overall atmosphere of Wonderland, it should not be analyzed. For example, people, for many years, have been trying to figure out the riddle, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Carroll said himself that this was intended to have no meaning, yet people continue to attempt to make sense out of a nonsensical writing. The fact of the matter is, this book should have been left alone.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 09:45  Comments (11)  

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  1. Kudos 🙂 I adore the first sentence “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is a whole lot of nonsense.” It’s perfectly blunt and raises a bit of curiosity about where you might be going with it. They can annotate and define and describe all they like, but this. book. is. nonsense. That’s all there is to it. I believe, of course, that some parts of it were based on real-life or there are hidden references to taboo subjects. But when it gets right down to it, a mouse is a mouse and a Hatter is a Hatter.

    • Thank you for commenting on my blog. I agree that there are some things in Wonderland that represent real life. Overall, if you analyze Alice the things you will get out of it are the things you comeup with yourself. In my opinion, nothing specific can come from the story.

  2. Thank you so much Erin, I feel the exact same way! You might want to check out my blog titled “Perhaps It Hasn’t One..” you might like it but I would like to focus on some points you made.

    Although I agree with almost everything you said, I believe the annotations are valuable and that they do relate to the book. Yes, Carroll did not write the annotations himself but most of the annotations are purely factual and it helps the reader better understand the story. Due to Carroll being British, a lot of the British sayings and slang is hard for some of us to understand. Therefore, I believe the annotations are a great addition to the story of Alice. I also disagree with Chapter 7 being the weakest part of the book. Isn’t it just like all the other scenes in the book? What really makes the mad hater scene different or weak?

  3. I agree with you. Some things are meant to not be analyzed. Some authors just want to make a story that people will enjoy. In this case Carroll make a story for Alice to enjoy and to know is hers. Some people tear these stories apart and just ruin the book for people. In the tea party seen I refused to read the annotations for three reasons. One: this scene was one of my favorite parts. Two: most of the annotations are confusing and boring to read. Atleast in my opinion. Three: they are way to long in that scene because they are trying to make sense of what the Mad Hatter and the March Hare are trying to say. The point of this scene was to make children happy with all of the crazy and fun energy when you read it. People need to analyze books that authors mean to be analyze and not children stories.

    • That is exactly what I am saying. Some stories are meant to be analyzed, but some are not. I mean anyone can feel free to analyze a book, but if it is not meant to be analyzed then can you ever truly get something specific out of?

  4. I agree with you that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a whole lot of nonsense. I also agree that some of the annotations are just one man’s opinions. However, some of the annotations are simply definitions of unusual words, or explaining a common saying of the time. I would also like to point out that some of the annotations contain direct quotations from Lewis Carroll, and some quotations, such as those from “Alice on the Stage”, contain Carroll’s own opinions and views on his characters.

    I am curious as to what you mean when you call chapter 7 “the weakest part of the book”. As you said, it is the most enjoyable part for most people and has an upbeat atmosphere. I enjoy this amusing chapter filled with so many tangential conversations and puns. What do you think causes it to be the weakest part of the book?

    • I don’t really mean weakest quite so literally. It is more like simple. I know when you read you might think that it is everything but simple. However, this part of the book can be interpreted just as any other cartoon show or book that is just written to entertain. Carroll did say in the annotations that “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” was meant to have no meaning. It is just that as I was reading the annotaions it seams to me that people have been trying so hard to decipher something that is so pointless it can’t be deciphered. I know that Carroll did put some things in this part of the book that do represent some things in reality, but once again it all leads down to pure opinion.The book on an overview does not have a specific meaning or interpretation.

  5. Very interesting way to look at it. I partly agree with your view on analyzing it. I believe this book should be analyzed, but only to a certain degree. However, the creator of Annotated Alice really did not fill the margins with his own interpretation. The majority of the notes were background information on Carroll and the time period, which COULD lead to the potential interpretation by Carroll himself.

    And yes, the book was fairly hard to read. Though, as you stated, it was written for a young girl. If it was hard for us, think of how hard it would have been for someone five or seven years younger than us.

    As I see it, this book has layers. One the surface, children can enjoy the humor and seemingly endless imagination. Beneath that, though, Carroll lays some complexity and puzzles that only older minds could perceive. Though, that is only my take on it.

  6. While I agree the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland should not be analyzed, I disagree that it has no meaning. the reason i believe “Alice” shouldn’t be analyzed is because i respect the original story. there are hidden meanings in “Alice”. Lewis acknowledged this, and thousands of scholars have confirmed it. However, I believe that when you analyze a text like Alice it leads to nothing but more analysis. The quaint charm I nearly passed up as a child, would be forever lost to time, if as one man once said, “The scholars got a hold of Alice”. In the end Alice can not stay neutral forever, it will either belong to the scholars or to the children. Our further analysis of Alice is pushing it more towards the scholars, yet we as kids are doing it for them, or are we perhaps scholars ourselves?


    I’m going to go write that blog…

  7. In this case, I agree with what Erin is saying. She is right in the fact that the book is sort of displaying nonsense. The denizens in Alice’s world are sort of crazy. There are no real living creatures that display these kinds of characteristics in our known world. Even though the characters may seem sort of strange, there personalities are very different. For instance, the mad hatter appears to be a nice fellow, but actually sort of criticizes Alice at every turn. This confirms what Erin said about the “Mad Tea-Party” seem to be the weakest part of the book.

  8. Kudos Erin. You are completely right. I was thinking about this same point just the other day about how these annotations of “Carroll’s Thoughts” could be completely wrong and a waste of time. As we have discovered many of his journals have been torn up so how do we know exactly what he meant by everything he was saying? We don’t. It really is a book of nonsense and the annotations are annotations of nonsense. What sense is there in that?

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