The story’s protagonist, Alice is a young girl from wealthy English family. Despite her privileged existence, Alice is unhappy with her environment because she deems it ordinary and uninspiring. Instead, she longs to explore another world that challenges her thoughts and attitude toward life. Alice demonstrates above-average intellect through her precocious understanding of her environment and curiosity for the unknown.
Because of her elevated social class and Victorian-era education, Alice appears a decent girl with good manners. In both a literal and figurative sense, Alice stands tall among others. In addition to her decency, though, Alice proves herself to be a go-getter with a sufficient supply of patience and wherewithal to get what she wants. However, Alice is not perfect. She retains an exaggerated sense of entitlement. For example, Alice describes a girl she knows as a “poky little hose” in comparison to herself. Alice’s condescension to less-privileged individuals impairs her ability to develop positive relationships with Wonderland’s inhabitants.
The story’s action revolves around the contrast between Alice’s sense of order and structure and the madness and nonsense of Wonderland. In Wonderland, Alice’s existence turns upside down as everything she believes to be true becomes different or altogether untrue. For example, the White Rabbit confuses Alice for a servant, something that would never happen to her life outside of Wonderland. In another instance, the Mad Hatter and March Hare ridicule Alice for her misunderstanding of the underworld. The Cheshire Cat humbles Alice by telling her that, in Wonderland, all creatures — including her — are insane.
Alice’s experiences in Wonderland give her exactly what she wanted: a challenge to her understanding of the world and a new conception of life for her to explore. However, Alice struggles because Wonderland presents her with values and ideas that are inconsistent with her own. Alice sees that life cannot always go her way and that events within it are sometimes shaped by forces beyond her understanding. In many ways, Wonderland threatens Alice’s comfortable existence, causing her to feel isolated and sometimes despondent. In short, Alice’s exposure to all sides of adventure — the good, the bad, and the ugly — tests her maturity and ability to handle unpredictability.