Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

by contributor

Sharon Fleming

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Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
The Garden

The garden is a prominent symbol throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. For Alice, the garden represents an ideal of beauty and perfection that she glorifies when she first arrives in Wonderland. In this sense, the garden alludes to the biblical Garden of Eden. This reference is appropriate because Alice must change her mindset, appearance, and behavior to gain access to the garden — just as Adam and Eve follow the Garden of Eden’s rules to live there. Like Adam and Eve, when Alice disrupts the way of life in the garden, she is expelled from it. When Alice discovers the reality of life among the garden’s inhabitants, it falls short of her expectations. Although the garden looks wonderful from an outside perspective, it does not live up to its appearance once Alice enters it. This reinforces the book’s thematic focus on curiosity, nonsense, and confusion.

The Caterpillar's Mushroom

Literary scholars believe the Caterpillar’s mushroom symbolizes several different ideas. According to some interpretations, the mushroom — due to its size, shape, and presence in Alice’s life — signifies sexual virility. Other interpretations discuss the mushroom’s effect on Alice’s body. When Alice eats some portions of the mushroom, she grows so big that her neck stretches above the trees. Other parts of the mushroom cause her to shrink to a fraction of her original size. Alice’s bodily changes that occur after consuming the mushroom parallel the onset of puberty. Overall, the Caterpillar’s mushroom suggests Alice’s maturation from child to adolescent, from naïve to aware, and from inflexible to adaptable, as she ventures into Wonderland.

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