His name usually seems to be a synonym for children’s literature. His ideas and achievements become examples of amazing literary nonsense. His works attract the attention of many little, as well as adult, readers. However, when the name of Charles Dodgson is pronounced, not many people are able to comprehend, who is talked about. It is high time to discover the name that is known for a wide range of readers around the whole world.
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All this is about Lewis Carroll, one and only, who introduced an amazing world of Wonderland with its rules, their absence, and their unimportance. Lewis’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most unexpected unpredictable and captivating stories, where the simplicity of ideas and nonsense are closely interlaced by a variety of puzzles that have to be collected by the main character, Alice.
In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis introduces a collection of puzzles that fulfill a human life, make people move and think about the past, present, and future as a one whole, and turn the majority of challenges into a nonsensical story about the author’s disregard for morality, rules, and measurements that are usually crucial to children’s literature.
It is not a usual thing to start reading a book, where a number of social norms and rules are broken from the very first lines. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the example of how passionate the author can be about his ideas and positions. He does not want to spend more time on some attractive and childish things.
His goal is to make the reader believe that this story differs from the others. Lewis does not find it necessary to hide the truth and prove that, if reading “had no pictures or conversations in it” (Carroll 63), it can be interesting in some way. It is high time to fall asleep and enjoy a new world, full of surprises, puzzles, and meetings that can change an ordinary life forever.
That is how an ordinary boy from a clergyman’s family, Charles Dodgson, turns into a famous children’s writer, Lewis Carroll, – because of his unwillingness to follow certain orders and a burning desire to be interesting for children. He was born on January 27, 1832, and he was the eldest son among other eight children in the family (Wakeling 1). Carroll aims at creating interesting games and stories to entertain his siblings and other children, who visit his family.
There is no need to ask for Carroll’s help – he finds his abilities and effects on other children helpful and educative. Though it was not inherent to that period of time, Carroll turns out to be one of those people, who really enjoy his activities and duties. It turns out to be a really fascinating idea, and even with time, after he gets an education and his master’s degree, he does not leave his passion and continues entertaining children and creating stories.
One of his listeners, young Alice Liddell, inspires him to develop a complete story (Winchester 33) that becomes one of the bestsellers of all the times. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was officially “born” in 1865. Still, its first lines appeared in far 1856, when Dodgson met Alice and started communicating with her and her sisters at the request of their father and the current dean of the institution, where Dodgson had to read his lectures.
Lewis does not aim at creating numerous literary works. He has much other work to do, and writing should not become the leading duty. However, that small number of stories, created by Lewis Carroll, becomes an outstanding example of the author’s desire to break the norms and destroy any kind of morale that is usually inherent in children’s literature. It is not an easy task to create a story for children, support the idea of breaking the rules, and prove the correctness of the chosen direction.
Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass show how literary nonsense may be attractive and even educative to the reader. In these works, he “demonstrates anxiety concerning knowledge and origins, which, in part, stems from a perceived dissolution between symbols and meaning” (Throesch 39).
Unbelievable nonsense and certain confidence are inherent to his works at the same time, and it introduces one of the first puzzles that have to be collected by Alice during her adventure and by the reader. Though the task is not easy, it fascinates and captivates a lot: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland may become that crucial lesson that has to be taken to enrich a human soul and change a life in accordance with the expectations and needs settled by a society.
On the one hand, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seems to be a usual story for children with a number of funny elements, educative episodes, and naïve events by means of which a true nature of a child may be observed. Nowadays, it is hard to find a child, who does not want to fall into a whole, follow the White Rabbit with strange watches, meet the marvelous Cheshire Cat, argue with the Hatter, or challenge the Queen of Hearts. On the other hand, the composition of the characters amazes indeed.
The introduction of a new character and the necessity to pass through a new challenge involve Alice deeper into the world of puzzles and nonsense. The peculiar feature of this story is that the development of the events may be unclear to many adult readers; still, the majority of children enjoys the story and takes a lot of educative things from it. This is what makes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a truly powerful example of children’s literature that can teach, explain, and develop.
Reynolds admits that “much of the personal content of the story is disguised through the use of puzzles, riddles, puns, and what appears to be nonsense” (para. 4). Of course, all the above-mentioned devices are frequently used in many children’s books. However, the quality of these devices in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is extremely high. It is not enough to play with several words and involve a child into reading the book. It seems to be a crucial task to overwhelm the story with unusual structures, features, and ideas.
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The popularity of this book serves as good evidence that people may demonstrate their fear or uncertainty in regards to puzzles and nonsense in their lives; still, they really enjoy all these devices and want to use them as many as possible to make their ordinary lives zipper.
Being a mathematician by his nature, Carroll becomes fascinated by any kind of puzzles and puns in writing. He believes that there are many famous authors, who can write properly and in an interesting way.
However, there are not many authors, who are able to combine the beauty of space, forms, and equations through the lines (Lane 1029). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is proof of how numbers, letters, and thoughts may be combined. It is one of the most challenging puzzles that have to be collected from the very beginning to get the main essence of the story.
Alice, as well as the reader, are challenged with the task to collect the puzzles and not to be confused with the expectations of the surroundings and people. It turns out to be a difficult combination of tasks: to understand what people expect, to learn how to complete the required function, to meet the measurements, and to take a lesson from what has been done.
In fact, the readers have a chance to facilitate the process of puzzle collection by means of forgetting “everything they thought they knew about this fiction” (Rotunno 90) and using their imagination as the only possible guide. Alice has no one, who can give her a hint and explain what is happening. She has to deal with all new things and new creatures on her own. She cannot even understand that everything that happens to her is simply called the maturation process.
And all those nonsensical challenges are the improvements that have to be done at a particular stage of life. However, Carroll cannot force a child to accept reality and follow the rules that have to be followed.
It seems to be more captivating to invite the White Rabbit, the Mouse, the Hatter, and even the evil Heart Queen to the story as the representatives of the changes and expectations. Alice insists on having a voice all the time by means of asking questions, requesting, and demonstrating unruliness (Reynolds para. 5). She wants to collect the puzzle of life, but she does not want to neglect her own interests and preferences.
As an example of children’s literature, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland contains a number of lessons that have to be taught. However, the evolution that is expressed by means of Alice’s “rapidly changing size, her obsession with eating, and the relocation of the human as part of a violent, predatory animal kingdom” (Murphy 14), demonstrates a tiny connection between human past, present, and future and an inability to unite them at the same time. “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then” (Carroll 141).
Alice’s statement proves that people are free to make decisions in the present, still, they can do nothing with their past and understand what can happen in the future. At the same time, people remain to be connected with their past and future. This kind of pun is a central idea during the conversations that take place between Alice and the Mock Turtle. These three instances do not define the quality of human life at all, but people cannot neglect them. They make themselves dependent on something they cannot control.
In other words, they support the idea of injustice and a kind of human weakness in regards to the circumstances. Carroll shows this connection in his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and proves that children are the only ones, who can make an attempt and try to change something in their lives without following rules. It is a really interesting task that can be actually completed and explained by children.
Another important task that has to be complete in the story is to make sense of the nonsense. Is it possible? In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, of course, it is! Taking into consideration that the main audience of the story is children, they do not have a chance to comprehend the true essence of the word “nonsense”. This is why, when they come to the conclusion that something is nonsense, they do not accept it as something wrong or strange, as many adult readers do.
The only thought they have in mind is that a nonsensical decision is a unique way to evaluate a situation and choose the most appropriate solution in the most inappropriate way. Grown-ups like to take a number of unexplained steps and call them nonsensical. Why not use nonsense as a method to explain something and try to introduce the world from this point of view? Carroll makes such an attempt. His Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a nonsense that has a point and cannot be neglected.
On the one hand, it is a stupid idea to follow the White Rabbit and fall down into the hole, to talk to a mouse or a turtle, to argue with cards, and to change the height according to the demands set.
On the other hand, it is enough to watch at the same things under a different angle: people start new acquaintances with ease like Alice fall down into the hole, trust new people, who may be compared with the White Rabbit, believe in the words of people, who are older or have a bigger experience like the Monk Turtle, etc. The things seem to be the same just introduced in a new unusual way. So, Alice necessity to follow puzzles and nonsense is not a new task. It is just professionally veiled.
Some readers may believe that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not an appropriate source of children’s literature as the author demonstrates his disregard for any kind of morals and rules that have to be followed. He underlines that children have all the rights to follow their own dreams and demands to enjoy this life. In fact, Carroll does not lie, just not all parents are eager to admit this truth. Alice’s story is an explanation of how a person wants to create his/her life: to neglect the rules but have a point.
Of course, many grownups and even children can easily understand that such a combination of ideas is not possible. Still, there is always some place for hope and faith that one day something can be changed. It is boring to live without a dream, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland proves that even the puzzles, that challenge Alice in her travel each time, can become that portion of hope crucial for living.
Carroll’s contribution to the development of children’s literature remains to be important and unforgettable. Even the most unclear points may get a sense in case there are properly explained and thoroughly evaluated. The literary nonsense of Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the necessity to follow some kind of standards may confuse the reader for a while.
And in order to take as much as possible from the story, the reader should throw away all doubts, templates, and basics and rely on personal imagination and knowledge. In this case, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will become a real treasure for the reader and a true adventure through Wonderland that is unique for each person.
In general, Lewis Carroll shows one of the most amazing ways of how a person can grow up. Of course, there are many tests people should be ready for, many puzzles that have to be evaluated and understood, and many decisions that should be made. However, there is no need to be definitely serious about everything that has to be done. Sometimes, it is even helpful to become a little daffy, funny, and unpredictable to overcome a challenge. Alice is a little girl that faces difficulties as the time to grow up has come.
Is she ready for it? Does she want this time to come? Can she do anything to postpone it or change something? All these questions, as well as the challenges on her way, seem to be rather nonsensical. Carroll understands that not all children are always ready to make the decisions people around expect. This is why such children are in need of some inspiration, support, and explanations.
Yes, it is time to become older. Still, it is possible to make fun of it. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a children’s book that can help many adults to understand a true worth of life.
Even if a person thinks puzzles are something unnecessary, it is not necessary to avoid them. Alice proves that her attempts may be rewarded, her intentions may be understood, and her life may be changed in accordance with her own demands in case she is able to collect all the puzzles and overcome all the nonsensical challenges created by the society she lives in by any possible means that come to her mind.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Buffalo, NY: Broadview Press, 2011. Print.
Lane, Christopher. “Lewis Carroll and Psychoanalysis: Why Nothing Adds Up in Wonderland.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 92.4 (2011): 1029-1045. Print.
Murphy, Ruth. “Darwin and 1860s Children’s Literature: Belief, Myth or Detritus.” Journal of Literature and Science 5.2. (2012): 5-21. Print.
Reynolds, Kimberley. “Understanding Alice.” British Library. Web.
Rotunno, Laura. “Novel Expectations to Novel Evaluations.” Academic Exchange Quarterly 9.1 (2007): 89-92. Print.
Throesch, Elizabeth. “Nonsense in the Fourth Dimension of Literature: Hyperspace Philosophy, the ‘New’ Mathematics, and the Alice Books.” Alice Beyond Wonderland: Essays for the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Cristopher Hollingswort. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2009. 37-52. Print.
Wakeling, Edward. Lewis Carroll: The Man and His Circle, New York, NY: I.B. Tauris, 2014. Print.