As an adolescent, I realized that the story, Alice in Wonderland, had a coming of age undertone. The story reflected the writer’s own Victorian world and Alice as a girl in the process of growing up. Alice’s trial at the end of the book reflects Britain’s own juridical system, which the writer believed to be a farce.
This was a major jab at Carroll’s own society, in fact within the novel, the judge is a tyrant, the jurors are simpletons, and Alice must learn that not all rules make sense, and strive for her freedom, in order to finally grow up (at the end of the book she does actually physically grow to the size of a giant), and escape back to her reality.
This facet of Alice, is perfectly portrayed in Tim Burton’s movie (2010), which shows Alice running away from her world and into the rabbit hole in order to escape an arranged marriage, and then going back home stronger and more mature after her experiences in Wonderland, and refusing to live by anyone else’s rules and standards.
As an adult, I now perceive ‘Alice’ yet differently. Carroll (or Dodgson) was a well-renowned mathematician, in fact his novel (which I have started to doubt was actually just a children’s book) is riddled with constructed puzzles, puns, layers of meanings, and games of all kinds.
Alice must learn the rules of these games in order to survive, because when she cannot, all we hear are cries of ‘Off with her head!’ (as the Red Queen so imperiously orders).
In yet another, more recent portrayal of Alice, this time in the form of a PlayStation 3 game called ‘Alice: Madness Returns’ (2011), Alice is actually a patient in a mental asylum, whose Wonderland is an internal emotional and mental state, which reflects her inner turmoil. The story therefore can be considered also from a psychological perspective. After all, in the book version, we see that at the end Alice ‘wakes up’ finding herself in her garden where she had fallen asleep, therefore, it had all been a dream and figment of her subconscious.
So many layers to one children’s storybook. I wonder, how many more children’s tales have hidden meanings? Have I found all those present in Alice, or are there still more facets to Wonderland? I’m betting there are.