Identity Crisis in Wonderland

I have picked up several themes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice goes into Wonderland looking for her lost identity. She encounters different creatures in Wonderland that continuously are asking her who she is. Yet she fails to give them a direct answer. She what she is trained to say, but she questions if that is correct. She is unsure of whether she has changed into a different person. When the White Rabbit mistakes her for his maid Mary Anne, she does not deny the fact that she is not his maid. As an obedient child she goes as his maid to get his things.  At this point she makes another change in size and becomes somewhat of a monster. Later she is also questioned by the Caterpillar who asks, “Who are you?” She is unable to answer.

The fact that Alice keeps changing size does not help her case. When she grows extremely tall a pigeon calls her a serpent. This makes Alice question what she is.  The Cheshire Cat does not challenge her of her species but of her sanity. He says they are all mad. This makes Alice confused for she denies the fact that she is mad. Why is she in Wonderland if she is not mad?

On the contrary, if you notice a lot of the creatures in Wonderland also deal with identity problems as well. They struggle with keeping up with who they are. For example: the Duchess’ baby turns into a pig. This change is like Alice’s constant changes from being one thing to another.  Also the jury in the court has to write down their names or else they will forget who they are.

Something to think about:  If we were not constantly being reminded of our names would we forget what they are?

Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 03:36  Comments (5)  

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  1. Intriguing! Is it only our names that identify us? Or, I wonder, is this also about who we are at different stages in our lives? Am I the same person I was at 10? 18? 25? You mention that, as she changes sizes, she becomes more and more confused. Because I’m quite a bit older than you are, I can see (from my own perspective) that I have probably had many identity crises in my lifetime. Once I feel like I know WHO I am, I grow older and change again. Great post!

  2. I think Brittany is on to something relating identity to shifts in life stages. Of course, Alice is moving from childhood to adulthood. In Chapter 5 she tells the pigeon she is not a serpent but a little girl. In Chapter 10 she says, “I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning
    … but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because
    I was a different person then.” Alice’s confusion is likely even more acute because she is used to a world where children are seen and not heard, where they have little identity. But even in a world of supposed logic, we tend to be different people as we respond to different people. I remember that even as a very adult woman, I was a child in my mother’s house. Do you continue to get big and small too?

  3. Erin, you said:
    “‘Who are you?’ She is unable to answer.”

    Is that a difficult question for ANY of us to truly answer? Do we ever really know who we are? In other words, that which is truly ourselves and not influences from other people.

    You asked:
    “Something to think about: If we were not constantly being reminded of our names would we forget what they are?”

    I think about this is: do all our chosen names really identify us? My given name is “Bob”. I don’t really feel that name fits us. Could I forget it? Sure, if I could pick a name that truly fits me (not real sure what that is, yet).

    I would have to disagree with Miles; I don’t think my name is my identity. I think other things more clearly identify me… perhaps my voice, my thinking… My name seems to actually be the last thing that identifies me.

    Is it impossible for Alice to find her true identity in Wonderland?

  4. Great blog Erin. I agree with alot of the points you make. However I will say that I think you are going too far with saying that people would forget their names. Names are a persons identity. Identities are very personal. I think if something is personal and important to you you won’t forget it.

  5. This is a very intersesting blog. I agree that Alice is on an identity search and that she perhaps does not know who exactly she is. I feel it is all apart of the age Alic is at. Alice is at the age when young girls are discovering themselves and experiencing different changes in life. It is tough to be a girl of her age no matter who it is. She is still discovering herself so to me it was no surprise that when asked who she was and such she could not come up with a reply.

    I do not know if we would forget our names if we weren’t told them everyday but I do feel it is possible to lose oneself to something, whether it be school or sports or another person. It is easy to become rapped up in something and forget everything you thought you knew about yourself.

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