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Too Many (Bizarre) Characters

November 5, 2009

Lewis Carroll obviously has some imaginative talent to bring to the (tea) table. Already by Chapter Four there are many quirky characters and circumstances… maybe too many…

To sum up some of the things that have played out so far here is a list: Talking rabbit, growing and shrinking, pool of tears, and more talking animals such as a mouse, a dodo, a lizard, as well as some other animals. To go even further, what we have to come is a smiling cat that disappears, a caterpillar smoking a hookah, more talking animals than you can count, and much more illogical talk. This is one story that packs a lot of nonsense. More than most other stories, I might add.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, what I’m saying here is that maybe this was a tactic to make this story more enjoyable/easier to pay attention to for children (which subtly says that the story is more so for children than analyzing adults). You may have noticed that there are countless other children’s stories that contain some nonsensical events, but as many as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Was Lewis Carroll simply trying to go over the top with interesting circumstances to keep people reading? Maybe he was doing so to keep peoples’ attention until the overall moral was revealed..?

Well, no matter what way the answer goes, it is not debatable that this story contains a lot of fantastical plot. I’m sure we have all seen talking animals in another book or two, and Carroll even went as far to make every other character a talking animal. Is this merely the preference of Carroll or a tactic to keep youthful attention on imaginative and likable icons? If the answer is the latter, then is there really an underlying message(s)?

“Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” (Alice says.)

(Page 23)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2009 11:41 pm

    I do agree that Carroll put a lot of bizarre characters in his story. He also didn’t just put in a few. Almost every character Alice meets in Wonderland is crazy. But you have to remember that Carroll wrote this story for a child. Children rely on their imagination more than they do their intelligence. I don’t think any child would want to read a novel that was completely 100% realistic. Children have a short attention span and if you want to teach them something you have to make it fun and enjoyable. That’s probably why he put in so many characters.

  2. Rivu D. permalink
    November 30, 2009 5:05 pm

    I for one love the quirkiness of the story, and I wouldn’t necessarily go as far as to say there is way to much oddity in the story. I agree with Connor S. on the fact that the things that are weird per say are what keeps the readers attention. Kids are more attracted to things with flash then things that are completely normal and mediocre, and Lewis Carroll’s little book has a lot of flash. The book was originally written to entertain three little girls, one in particular, and so its purpose is to entertain. Perhaps Carroll was under the impression that children are more easily entertained by things that are nonsensical, like talking rabbits and the such, rather than things that are normal and boring, such as say a talking person. There is nothing significant about a talking person, but a talking animal in a wonderland would definitely get your attention now wouldn’t it?

  3. November 21, 2009 4:59 pm

    I think it is a trick to attract young readers, maybe with a little personal preference thrown in. Something like talking animals are really the only way to capture the attention of a very young audience. A 7 or 8 year old is not going to want to, or even be able to read a book that is very deep and philosophical. Maybe it was a little bit of both Carroll’s preference mixed with just doing it to get the attention of the young reader. The book kinda needs the childish elements, but while that may attract a young audience, it will also turn off many adult readers. But are children really reading the same books we read in class, and that adults read, just with a coat of kid-friendly paint and some talking animals thrown in? Because if Carroll is really disguising something more complex within Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then we have probably read something with a similar meaning, just more boring and to the point.

  4. Abbie P. permalink
    November 12, 2009 4:11 pm

    I do agree with you that there is a lot of unreality in the story, but I wouldn’t say that there’s too much. All of the nonsense just helps build up what’s coming. Maybe Carroll wants us to believe that Alice is insane, and maybe he wants us to keep in mind that she is a child. Most children believe in all kinds of things; fat old men that travel around the world delivering presents and eating tons of cookies & drinking gallons upon gallons of milk (seriously, he doesn’t have time for a bathroom break. How is he supposed to drink all of that and not have to pee really bad?), fairies that steal teeth from under your pillow and leave money in exchange, and then there’s the easter bunny (bunnies don’t lay eggs. especially not colourful ones.). The things carroll does are hardly as unrealistic as all of these things.

    Children will believe almost anything, and he wants to broaden their imaginations. The main reason adults are so grouchy is because they hardly have time to just imagine for once. All of the unreal things in Alice in Wonderland are what make children happy, and I don’t think Carroll put too much at all. Though, he was rather clever about it for adults as well. To children, a smoking caterpillar is just a smoking caterpillar. But, when you grow up…we all know what it is he’s smoking. There’s no denying that most of us are going to think it’s funny. Just a random thought.

  5. November 9, 2009 6:35 pm

    I think that the talking animals were in fact there to keep the children’s attention on the book. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland really IS a long book for a child to listen to and not get bored of it. I think the pictures and talking animals help pique the interest of the children, though. Talking animals really are interesting to children… Remember the movie Babe? Children love that movie (and it was the first movie with real looking talking animals) because of the talking animals. Because kids are interested, they grasp the concepts better and the moral of the story sticks better. Talking animals are put in children’s stories so that children will actually listen to them.

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