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Alice In Wonderland Powerpoint


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Alice In Wonderland Powerpoint

  1. 1. Some Sense in the Nonsensical Social and Power Structures within Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
  2. 2. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Alice Liddell • Charles Dodgson, the son of a cleric in the rural English countryside, attended Oxford and excelled at mathematics and classics. • Armed with an idyllic childhood, Dodgson was a lover of games and logic—both of which he used to entertain his ten other siblings. • After school, he took on several different posts at Christ Church College in Oxford, where he eventually came to know the dean Henry George Liddell and his family, including seven year old Alice. Dodgson was 23. • Dodgson adopted the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll” for his writing, it being a scrambled version of his first two names. He chose to use a pseudonym so as to preserve his real name for the publication of serious work. • Finding a great interest in photography as well as writing, Dodgson became enamored with the little Liddell girls, especially Alice. They are the subjects of some of his most famous photographs, and little Alice went on to become the heroine of his most famous story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, initially entitled Alice Underground. • The story began as a verbal tale Carroll told on a riverboat outing with the Liddell’s, made up completely on the spot. It focuses on an adventure of Alice’s into a world both like and unlike her own in which she meets fantastical creatures, strange rules, and even stranger characters. After much urging from Alice, Carroll decided to set the story down on paper. The characters draw from Carroll’s own inversions of societal positions—which he had often satirized in early publishings of magazines and nonsense poetry.
  3. 3. Carroll and Alice in Oxford • Oxford, England was a playground for the Liddell sisters, and as their father was the dean of Christ Church College, they often spent their days in the gardens and grounds around the school and cathedral. • Carroll both worked at the college and spent a lot of time with the family in Oxford. Today, his portrait hangs in the dining hall at Christ Church and a stained glass window memorializes his fantastical characters. • Alice loved candies from her favorite shop “The Old Sheep Shop,” which has since been turned into a commemorative shop for all curious things Alice in Wonderland.
  4. 4. The World of Alice in Wonderland
  5. 5. The Absurdity of Family Relations • In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll plays with the ideas of family in the chapter “Pig and Pepper.” Here, Alice enters the chaotic house of a Duchess and her child in which safety, warmth, love, and happiness are completely absent. Dishes fly around the room as the Duchess throws everything in sight. The baby wails and wails for its safety which is constantly at risk, while the cook cooks inedible food. • Carroll directly attacks the cultural notion of “motherhood” in this chapter. Is “motherhood” an inherent trait all women possess? The baby is referred to as a pig, a clear mockery of the expectation of babies as “cute” and “adorable,” and the Duchess effectively gives her baby to Alice to take care of, unconcerned with its well- being. In Wonderland, familial ties are trivial and fleeting. Who one belongs to one moment can change in the next. • Another inversion is the relationship of the cook and the Duchess. As was still common in society at the time, a cook would be subordinate to the household she works for as well as an integral part in feeding and sustaining the family. In Wonderland, however, the cook puts too much pepper in everything, causing fits of sneezing and unhealthy, destructive behavior in the mannerisms of the Duchess.
  6. 6. Complications in Etiquette and Language • The Mad Hatter and the March Hare- When Alice encounters the Mad Tea Party, she attempts to use her knowledge of table manners, but finds that the Hatter and the Hare, both adults in comparison to Alice, do not possess any etiquette skills at all. The process of taking “tea,” a very traditional English cultural event, is made absurd and pointless. The hosts shout at and order about their guests, never wash their tea sets (but continuously use new ones), and do not cater to anyone but themselves. Alice’s “lessons” she is being taught as a young girl really only apply within the society that upholds and recognizes the same codes. They are useless outside of society. • The Caterpillar- Alice’s conversation with the Caterpillar demonstrates an inversion of the expectation of language. As Alice begins to explain herself in response to the Caterpillar’s questions, she realizes that her answers are always ineffectual at explaining her true meaning. Language, Carroll seems to say, creates expectations that society understands certain “universal truths,” which may not be universal after all—and in Wonderland, Alice continually cannot explain herself effectively to anyone through words. Language becomes a barrier that complicates and distorts Alice’s ability to communicate with the other creatures.
  7. 7. Abuses of Power- The Queen of Hearts • Alice attends the croquette match of the Queen of Hearts, only to find that the Queen is a maniacal tyrant bent on beheading anyone who steps a toe out of her imaginary line. • Kings and queens, historically were crowed by “divine right,” under the assumption that they were chosen as the leaders of their people. The Queen of Hearts does not inspire hope, safety, or love in the hearts of her people, however—instead she terrifies them and acts irrationally out of her own best interest, not theirs. • She is also, ironically, unconcerned with following through with her sentences. The Queen of Hearts seems to make so many ridiculous demands that she cannot possibly enact them all—or ensure that they are properly carried out. She enjoys giving the sentence, but cares little for its follow- through. • The Queen of Hearts is said to be a satirical reference to Henry VIII’s fondness for beheading people who got in his way politically, as well as romantically. • Standing for the whims of royalty which can effect both good and bad for their subjects, the Queen of Hearts symbolizes the ineffectiveness of the monarchy when its actions are self-indulgent and illogical.
  8. 8. The Partiality of Justice • Perhaps the most directly satirical scene is the courtroom trial of the Knave of Hearts towards the end of the story. Accused of stealing the Queen of Heart’s tarts, the Knave is unfairly questioned by the King of Hearts, who is the completely incompetent presiding judge. • The King accuses first—the Knave is guilty before proven innocent—and attempts to give his sentence before the presentation of the evidence. • The jury is a ramshackle box of timid Wonderland creatures who each possess a black slate on which to keep record of the trial, but only at the request of the “judge” who informs them of the important versus unimportant aspects of the trial. All the jurors can truly manage on their own is the writing down of their own names which so as they would not forget them by the end of the trial! • Evidence that is presented is either completely useless or unrelated, but the King puts together the bits that make the case favorable to his predetermined “guilty” verdict. The fairness of trials is called into question as Carroll begs the question of how the dominant power structures can ever justly determine the morality, the punishment, or the gravity of an affair given their personal (or lack thereof) involvement in a case.
  9. 9. What does all this nonsense mean? • Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is not only a children's story, but it a testament to the powerlessness of individuals in a society that is always in flux—the rules in Wonderland change almost as soon as Alice accepts them. There are no universal truths in Wonderland, nor is there a common way in conversing with or dealing with characters. Each has their own individual realities which are made up entirely of their own codes, signs, and language. Social ideals and rules no longer apply—they are made fun of and are completely misunderstood by everyone in Wonderland. • Alice’s journey brings her face to face with a whole host of new ideologies beyond the very specific set she has been taught as a little girl growing up in the 19th century.
  10. 10. Sources • Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking- Glass. Barnes and Noble Classics, New York. 2004. • Stoffel, Stephanie Lovett. Lewis Carroll and Alice. Thames & Hudson, The Wonderland Press. 1997.