Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 1

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begins with an idyllic scene: Alice and her sister sit by a riverbank, reading a book together. However, since the book contains neither images nor dialogue, Alice finds it dull. She craves something vivid and interesting. Boredom makes Alice drowsy. In a semi-conscious state, she sees the White Rabbit, wearing a waistcoat and talking to himself, dart into a nearby hole. The sight of the White Rabbit jolts Alice back to her senses. She rises, deeply curious, and pursues the White Rabbit. As she goes down the rabbit hole, Alice experiences a loss of gravity and slowly floats to the ground.

As she falls, Alice does not fear what she might encounter. Instead, she fixates on following the White Rabbit. As she floats down the tunnel, she notices shelves of familiar objects, including a jar, and this similarity solidifies her confidence in navigating this unfamiliar place. Despite experiencing a loss of gravity, Alice does not feel disoriented and still retains her “sense of propriety.” After scrutinizing the jar, Alice returns it to a shelf for fear of dropping it and causing someone below her injury. Without anything else to do, Alice thinks of her cat, Dinah, and imagines a conversation she might have with her. She begins to feel nostalgic for the life she left behind, and it occurs to her that she might be trapped in this dreamlike place. Suddenly, she lands on the ground and looks up to see the White Rabbit turning a corner away from her.

Unhurt, Alice gets up and discovers a corridor lined with doors. With a key she finds on a table, Alice tries to open each door. The key only opens one small door, behind which Alice sees a beautiful and inviting garden. Not sure how she can fit through the door to enter the garden, Alice looks around to find a bottle labeled “DRINK ME.” After checking the bottle for poison, she drinks its contents and shrinks. Before she enters the door, however, she realizes she left the key on the table that now towers above her. Berating herself for this silly mistake, Alice cries before coming across a cake labeled “EAT ME.” Hoping it will make her grow so she can reach the key, Alice eats the cake. Nothing happens.


Even before Alice loses consciousness and drifts into total slumber, she feels strange and senses a change from her ordinary existence. Alice’s journey into Wonderland begins with her transition from consciousness to sleep. The White Rabbit, a creature capable of speaking English, marks Alice’s entry into the bizarre. In Wonderland, Alice meets ridiculous and even meaningless creatures who are unlike anything she has ever encountered before.

Alice dreams of Wonderland because her real life bores her. She craves excitement and enters Wonderland to satisfy her curious soul. In Alice’s mind, nothing could be more interesting than following the White Rabbit down the hole. However, Alice neglects the fact that interesting experiences often involve both pleasure and difficulty. Instead, Alice assumes Wonderland will offer her nothing but satisfaction. Alice’s assumption is misguided and naïve; it is evident that Wonderland does not always live up to its name. In Wonderland, Alice encounters intense confusion and frustration.

For example, Alice’s inability to pass through the narrow door to access the garden aggravates her so much that she cries. Alice’s response to this challenge emphasizes her immaturity. It also nods to the discomfort young women feel with regards to the shapes and sizes of their bodies. For perhaps the first time in her life, Alice sees her body as flawed because it does not allow her to access the garden in its natural state. Alice’s discomfort reflects the emotional and psychological changes many girls undergo as they transition into adulthood.

The White Rabbit represents misleading attractions that capture the imaginations of young people. Alice follows the White Rabbit down the hole because his presence promises excitement and intrigue. Just like Alice, many young people pursue adventures with unknown outcomes for entertainment. Moreover, some such adventures are ill-advised because they involve excessive risk or even danger. Alice’s behavior suggests she lacks the foresight to consider the consequences of her actions.

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