Parallel Personalities

As I read chapter eight I got a sudden feeling of deja vu.

While at the Queen’s croquet game the White Rabbit tells Alice that the Duchess was going to be executed for boxing the Queen’s ears. I knew that I had seen this before so I searched the story to make sure I wasn’t loosing my mind. Finally I found it in chapter one- “and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing with herself.” Suddenly ideas and questions began to rush into my head. Is the entire story a reflection of Alice’s previous life? Are all of the characters a reflection of a portion of Alice’s personality? I know it is a stretch but just think about it.

Perhaps Alice is dreaming of events in her life, but Alice is encountering herself in various new people.  Alice is the Queen when she feels demanding and powerful. She is the duchess when she feels hot-tempered. She is the White Rabbit when she is running late or feels as if she is running out of time. She is the Mad Hatter when time seems to stand still like when she is bored. She is the Cheshire Cat when she feels omnipresent and all-knowing. She is the cards/gardeners two, five, and seven when she is fearful of her mistakes. She is the Caterpillar when she is feeling contemptuous and scornful.

The tea party could be a formal tea or social event that she attended that she felt lasted for a very long time. The Queen’s croquet game is obviously a croquet game that she had played with herself. The encounter with the White Rabbit is tricky, though. How would it be described as a parallel of Alice’s life if it is actually happening in the “real world” as Alice knows it? It could be the crossover scene, or the time when both worlds overlap. Perhaps the rabbit is the only real part of Wonderland or the only fake part of the “real world”(which in my opinion may be the same thing). Or maybe the rabbit is a hybrid, a being of both dimensions.

Just one final thought:

If Alice’s time spent in Wonderland is a parallel of her life, what happens when the story ends?

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 17:14  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Imagine sitting in a boat with 3 little girls, and your task is to entertain them for quite some time. They do not have iPods, books, GameBoys… nothing.

    What stories would you tell them? Would you include characters that resemble the little girls? If so, would you use your story as a learning device (to teach them some type of moral, for example)? or would you make them the stars of the story in order to capture their attention? Or maybe a little bit of both?

    Also, would you most likely include characters based upon people you know?

    When I read a story, I like to become totally engrossed in it- the suspension of disbelief, if you will– until I finish the story. THEN- I’ll take the time to analyze why the author used the methods he/she did in writing.

    Put yourself in Carroll’s place. What would YOUR story look like?

    Great thinking in this post and all the subsequent comments!

  2. If it is easier for Alice to look at these situations through the “looking glass” of wonderland it makes me wonder what Alice’s life must have been like. Just like in “Where the Wild Things Are” perhaps Alice used wonderland as a way to escape a touh situation.

  3. Outstanding! I love the idea of each character being a piece of Alice… like part of her unconscious, representations as we would have in a dream. The “boxing of the ears” correlation does seem to be evidence of what Carroll was up to.

    I love Meighan’s connection to the book Life of Pi! If in that book, the story is being told with animals replacing people in the story (and easier to “work through” for Pi than the truth), then perhaps these characters in Alice are doing the same service. Easier to look at each subconscious personality as these grandiose cartoonish characters than taking on actual pieces of the self. Perhaps what we do in dreams constantly.


  4. Perhaps if this is a dream Alice is experiencing. We should look at this from how the brain works. According to science a dream is a lot of subconscious pictures, urges, memories, you name it. So perhaps it is Alice’s own mind dredging up images of herself for her dream self to contemplate. I like this image of Alice. It seems to explain the whimsical yet somehow cohesive world of wonderland

  5. I agree completely with your assumption.

    I remembered seeing that Alice box her own ears for cheating while playing croquet and I wrote “Foreshadowing perhaps?” next to it in my book. All of the characters in the book could be, like you said, personalities of Alice that emerge when provoked. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons Carroll wrote this book for little Alice. Since Alice was from Europe she could encounter many tea parties in her life and Carroll wanted to demonstrate a situation she, is not likely, but may very well encounter. As for the Rabbit…I believe it is the messenger or the thing that allows one “real” world object or person to crossover to Wonderland.

    Although did Alice ever see the White Rabbit when she was still awake or was she asleep?

    As for you final thought… I see the end of the story as a new beginning for Alice, a clean slate, for her to do as she pleases; whether she takes any of the lessons from her Wonderland journey or not.

    Feel free to take a peek at my teams blogs !

  6. You make an astonishing amount of interesting points here. I for one completely agree with the idea that all of the characters are reflective of a part of Alice’s personality. But the idea of it all being related to a previous life or the own events in her life bothers me a bit because I dont really see why Carroll would necessarily bother putting something so inconsequential in his book. I mean he intended this story to be heard by three little girls, that seems like something he wouldn’t have put in there if that was the case. Of course you could make the argument that the book is absolutely full to the brim with symbolism but notice how all of the symbolism that Carroll does include is much more purposeful. Some of his symbolism parodies England, government, and the three little girls themselves, but Alice’s past life being related to her adventures in wonderland quite honestly seems devoid of purpose. But once again, I absolutely love the ideas about the characters in the book being part of Alice herself, great thinking.

  7. That’s pretty good thinking! She is in a dream after all, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for one’s dreams to reflect their own experiences. I had to look up what it means to “box ears.” It couldn’t have really been a punch: I don’t think that’s how a Duchess would act. What it really is involves cupping your hands and slapping them over someones ears. This was kind of random until I read it was used for punishing children. Maybe the Duchess and her need to teach children lessons (like Ch. 9) was chastising the Queen for beheading everyone? I like how you linked Alice’s moods to other characters from the story. Alice was angry at the frog outside the Duchess’s house, and when she went in she met an angry character. Good Work.

  8. I am astonished and pleasantly surprised with your discoveries! I love how you got the characters to relate with her life prior to the dream. It reminded me of the book Life of Pi, the boy’s story could literally have been what happened animals included, or he may have substituted animals for people in his life. Who knows. Your question at the end is a wonderful question; I just don’t like it because I can’t think of an answer. 😉

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