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The Death Threats

November 6, 2009

After reading Gabriella B.’s The Morbidity of Moral, I was thinking about all the dangers that Alice has in this story. First, Alice keeps drinking and eating these random drinks and food. She doesn’t know if they are poison or not. In Chapter one, Carroll writes:

This bottle is not marked ‘poison’ so Alice ventured to taste it.

Just because it is not marked poison doesn’t mean it isn’t. Alice talks about how she has read several “nice” little stories, but in the annotations it say that these “nice” little stories were actually filled with horror and pious morals. Why would children read these fairy tales that contain horrors. When Alice is holding the fan in Chapter 2, she is threatened to be gone from existence. How can someone be gone just by shrinking? I believe that she wouldn’t disappear. Just because we can’t see her doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist.

Also Alice keeps making these foolish decisions throughout the whole book. She just happens to decide to go down a rabbit hole. She doesn’t think or care what is down there she just wants to follow the rabbit. Then she thinks that she wouldn’t be scared from falling off her house or down the stairs. First of all, why would she even be on the top of her house? She is a little girl and could get injured. It even says in the margin notes of  The Annotated Alice that this is a little death joke by Carroll. Personally, I don’t think death is a joke. Alice also talked about drowning in her own tears in Chapter 2. When I think of a children’s book I don’t really think of death, but technically I believe that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not a regular children’s book. Throughout the book Alice also says things that other people do not want to hear. For example when she talks to the mouse in Chapter 2, she talks about her cat and this dog down the street from her house and how they attack and kill mice. This is a death threat to this mouse. She also asks where is her cat in French. The mouse is already afraid of cats, so why would she say something like this?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex F. permalink
    December 3, 2009 4:01 am

    What you’ve got to remember is that back in the day, all children’s stories had a moral, and they usually got to that moral through some pretty disturbing story-lines. Carroll, even if the story doesn’t have a clear moral, is sticking to the traditional style of writing back then, which meant having references to death and dying. I think the reason that these references stand out so much today is because we’re used to coddling children with innocent, sweet little nursery rhymes and safe toys. So the writing style seems more harsh than it was perceived back in Carroll’s day. But really, at the time he wrote it, it was perfectly acceptable. One of the points I made in a comment on another blog was that we can’t judge Carroll or his writing fairly today, because the standards of society and what is acceptable has changed from back when Carroll wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. What was acceptable then may not be now, and vice versa.

  2. Morgan P. permalink
    December 3, 2009 1:07 am

    You make a lot of good points Lindsay. I mean really when you look at at, most chilrens’ stories are centered around death. Like Abbie said, the poison apple. Afraid of being killed by a dragon while trying to save the princess. I agree with you that it is ridiculous to have so many references to death in a kids story. But I’ve realized that just about all stories are based on the fear of dying. It makes sense though. When you think about it, that is what we are all afraid of. So it makes sense that someone would have to use it in a story. Also the “death threats” generally makes the readers more interested.

  3. Katherine H. permalink
    December 2, 2009 11:37 pm

    Well, Alice is a child. Don’t children fall for things? Many children are naive and don’tthink twice before going on an adventure. As the readers, we can forsee her pattern of lack of caution when she just plops into the rabbit hole. And I completely agree with Abbie’s comment. In about every single Disney or not children’s story I can think of, there is indeed some sort of death relation. Even if it isn’t death itself, there is an equal.

  4. Abbie P. permalink
    December 2, 2009 4:30 am

    I kinda thought it was funny that you would say that Alice wasn’t a normal children’s story because of all the thoughts of death. What about Snow White? The POISON apple was disguised as something innocent, so she ate it, but it ws intended to kill her. Though, it only worked till true love’s first kiss. [boo for happy endings]. Isn’t it quite normal for Children’s stories to revolve around things such as death? If anything, it’s not a normal children’s story because there is no romance! That seems to be a rather common trend, though children know very little of love. It’s pretty pathetic to get their little hearts set on foolishness.

  5. Kathy B. permalink
    November 28, 2009 3:50 pm

    I do think it’s very interesting that Carroll has all these death references in the story. It is a story geared for a young girl that Carroll was devoted to, so why in the world would he put so much danger in Wonderland? Maybe to warn Alice Liddell? Maybe he wanted her to see the consequences of character Alice’s actions, and have that be a warning to her to not do those things. Maybe Carroll was just a very dark man, and put the references in there as a bit of a joke to himself. He probably (but not necessarily) thought that young children would not pick up on these references, and maybe put them there just for the adults.

    As for being a bad influence on children, maybe or maybe not. Sure, they may associate unlabeled liquids with growing and shrinking, but, in the story, all Alice wants is to be her normal size again. She creates an entire pool of tears that she shed just longing to shrink down to her normal size. I think this may help with the negative influence on children, and Carroll probably put all of the consequences in the story very intentionally for this very purpose.

    As for the movie coming out next year, that’s different. Any seemingly innocent story gets twisted when Tim Burton gets his hands on it.

  6. November 10, 2009 4:19 pm

    Alice continues to make decisions that could hurt her. She should not be doing things when she does not know how it will affect her. She should be more careful. Not to mention this is sending out a bad message to kids who read this book or see the movie. They might actually start to think that drinking random things could make them grow really big or small. Plus all the death jokes are bad too. Alice needs to learn that she should think before she does stuff when she doesn’t know the consequences.

    • Lindsay R. permalink
      November 10, 2009 5:25 pm

      To Erin: That is exactly what I mean. This is definately a bad influence on children. I’m surprised that there wasn’t any injuries after the disney movie came out the first time. I’m also wondering how the children respond when the movie comes out again next year.

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