Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 8

Alice finally enters the beautiful garden, where she encounters three gardeners bickering over who among them has the duty of painting the white roses red. They explain to Alice that they accidentally planted white roses instead of red ones ordered by the Queen of Hearts. They hope to conceal their mistake before the Queen arrives. At that moment, the Queen enters the garden with a pack of live playing cards. As the gardeners tremble and bow before the Queen, she asks Alice her name. Alice does not fear the Queen or her entourage because, after all, they are just playing cards. When the Queen asks Alice about the gardeners’ behavior, Alice’s disrespectful response prompts the Queen to call for her execution. Before the Queen can behead Alice, the King of Hearts comes to her rescue and rescinds the Queen’s order. When she calls for the gardeners’ execution, Alice hides them in a flowerpot before leaving to play croquet with the Queen. When Alice arrives at the croquet field, the White Rabbit appears and informs her that the Duchess is on trial for boxing the Queen’s ears.

After the croquet game begins, Alice realizes just how unusual it is: The ground has ridges, the croquet balls are hedgehogs, and the mallets are flamingos. These oddities make it difficult for Alice to play. Suddenly, in the middle of the game, the Queen orders for the beheading of everyone around her. At this point, Alice attempts to escape, but she runs into the Cheshire Cat, who asks her about her progress in Wonderland. Alice responds by saying she feels disturbed by the Cheshire Cat’s unusual behavior. From a distance, the King notices Alice’s conversation with the Cheshire Cat. He approaches and attempts to bully the Cheshire Cat, but he fails. This annoys the King, so he asks the Queen to help him handle the situation. The Queen thoughtlessly commands for the Cheshire Cat’s decapitation, but her order is impossible to fulfill because the Cheshire Cat becomes a head floating in midair, so he cannot be executed. Alice recommends they call the Duchess to help since she is the Cheshire Cat’s owner. However, the Duchess arrives late, and the Cheshire Cat disappears.


Contrary to her initial expectations of the garden, upon entering it, Alice realizes it is just as frustrating a place as any other in Wonderland. The garden falls far short of her expectations, especially because its beauty appears artificial. She enters it to find gardeners concealing its natural state to appease the Queen of Hearts. Since the garden is both the center of Wonderland and the seat of power and authority therein, it reflects its surroundings. Although it attracts Alice, the garden is just as dysfunctional and insane as the rest of Wonderland. Just as Alice had to come to terms with the reality of Wonderland, she must accept the garden’s departure from her idealized vision of it.

Alice has a strained relationship with the Queen. Before Alice entered the garden, she did not pay much attention to the Queen or consider her the animals’ leader. In fact, Alice had taken orders from animals like the White Rabbit. In the garden, however, she discovers a new structure of command. She learns that the Queen is Wonderland’s ultimate ruler, and her presence makes all animals tremble. Moreover, Alice experiences the Queen’s authoritarian leadership style as she orders for her subjects’ beheadings. Ultimately, Wonderland’s inhabitants might all be mad, but their madness does not grant them freedom. They answer to the Queen.

Yet, in Alice’s interactions with the Queen, she emerges more powerful than she initially felt in Wonderland. After Alice realizes the Queen and her entourage are merely a “pack of cards,” she speaks to the Queen with more confidence. However, she does not attempt to control the Queen. Instead, the Queen, the King, and the gardeners on occasion solicit Alice for information and guidance. This suggests Alice has a place in Wonderland and that she is not as hopeless as she once appeared. Despite Alice’s difficulties, she develops some rapport with its occupants and remains reluctant leave Wonderland. She wants to see her experience through and learn the point of Wonderland, even though she could leave at any time by simply waking up.

Have study documents to share about Alice in Wonderland? Upload them to earn free Studypool credits!