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Carroll vs. Tenniel

December 3, 2009
Have you ever noticed how Tenniel’s drawings don’t always match up with what Carroll is writing? I first realized this when I would look at the pictures and noticed that Alice never looked happy. She always seemed to be frowning or upset about something. She even had distressed looks when Carroll had described her as content at that time. For example when Alice is at the “Mad Tea Party,” they (The March hair, The Dormouse, The Hatter, and Alice) are discussing a riddle. Carroll gives the reader incite on Alice’s thoughts about the situation saying, “Come, we shall have some fun now!, I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.” After reading this you would expect to see a picture of a content Alice pondering the riddle. However when you look at Tenniel’s illustration of this scene, she seems not interested in the conversation at all. It is almost like she doesn’t even want to be there and the other characters at the table are irritating her.


Maybe she is making these faces because of the seemingly pointless conversation about the difference between meaning what she says and saying what she means. Not only this picture but many others throughout the book show Alice as not being happy.

I also mentioned this idea in my groups second Cover It Live. Check it out.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Keith C permalink
    December 3, 2009 5:27 pm

    Thanks Derek. If you are interested, I have recently created a Voice Thread that covers a few a Tenniel’s illustrations and I talk a little more about this.

  2. Derek_M permalink
    December 3, 2009 4:04 pm

    I definitely have noticed that. In art, it seems that people take their artistic freedom to the limit. Tenniel falls under this rule. I’m glad you wrote a blog about that. I was pondering that the other day. Due to the fact that artistic freedom can be taken with literary works, I think there is nothing wrong with taking artistic freedom. Carroll portrayed Wonderland how he envisioned it and Tenniel did the same. Unless you have seen the movie, everyone’s wonderlad is different. Every Wonderland is varied. Whether it is a marketing campaign, or just a work of art, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be interpretated in many ways. Good Work.

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