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Alice in Wonderland - Book review

Updated on May 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland - A book review

The Book

 

Alice in Wonderland is one of the most famous children’s books ever written. It became a success from the moment it was published, in 1865. Since then, it has been translated in 80 languages, adapted for theatre, television, and today it is one of the most quoted works in English literature.

A Word about the Author and the Illustrator

This book was written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under his pen name: Lewis Carroll. He was a man of many interests including mathematics, logic, astronomy, and philosophy.

Born in 1832, he went to college in Oxford and contributed to various papers by writing and drawing. He then taught mathematics at college while pursuing his work at The Comic Times. Author of several mathematics treaties, he also wrote novels.

As he was very fond of children and entertaining them, he wrote Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the looking glass and what Alice found there. In fact he modeled Alice’s character on the daughter of a friend. He died in 1898.

The illustrations of Alice in Wonderland are the works of John Tenniel and were published with Carroll’s original text.

Summary

The text doesn’t really have a thread but is more a series of strange encounters like in a dream.

It is the story of a young girl named Alice. As she is sitting on the riverbank of the Thames, she sees a white rabbit with a waistcoat that is talking to itself, pass by. Alice follows it out of curiosity until she enters a rabbit-hole and starts falling down slowly. When the little girl eventually lands, she is in a room with a table and a key on it. A little door leads into a wonderful garden. But it is so small she can’t go through.

She then notices a small bottle labeled “Drink me” on the table. Alice drinks it and becomes very small. But she forgot to open the door and cannot reach the key. She now eats a cake labeled “eat me” and become very big. As she is confused she cries and then tries to cool herself with the white rabbit’s fan. She soon shrinks so much she is forced to swim in her own tears. She then meets other animals and gets out of the water. The Mouse wants to tell a dry story in order to dry but the Dodo suggests a caucus-race.

When she is dry, Alice enters the garden. She goes to a house and drinks from a bottle, making her grow again. She is so big she cannot get out and all the animals gather to make her leave. They throw pebbles at her, which are in fact pieces of cake. She eats one and shrinks again.

She runs from the house into the wood and meets a huge puppy and later the Caterpillar sitting on a mushroom and smoking a hookah. The caterpillar tells her that eating one side or the mushroom will make her either shrink or grow.

Then she finds a cottage where a Fish-Footman delivers an invitation from the Queen to play croquet to a Frog-Footman. She enters and meets the Duchess in the kitchen with her baby. A cook is making a soup and is putting a lot of pepper making the air unbearable. The baby is crying so Alice takes it outside where it changes into a piglet. She leaves him and runs into the woods until she comes upon the Cheshire cat, a grinning, but mysterious animal. He doesn’t appear all at once, and his grin is the first thing Alice sees.

Alice goes on until she meets the mad Hatter and the March Hare, who are having a tea party with a sleeping Dormouse. Alice finds them confusing because they ask riddles to which there is no answer and pretend that there is no room for her whereas there is.

Suddenly, she finds herself in the room where she landed. She uses a piece of mushroom to grow there right size and enters the garden where the Queen is having a croquet game with flamingoes for sticks and hedgehogs for holes. Alice is invited to play. The Queen orders anyone who disagrees with her to be beheaded. Alice finishes the game and is the only one not to be sentenced.

The Queens then asks a Gryphon to take Alice to the Mock Turtle in order to hear its story. The Turtle tells Alice about the time when she was at school and learned subjects like ‘reeling, ‘writhing’ or ‘fainting’. Then Alice, the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle dance a Lobster Quadrille.

Next they attend a trial, where the King, assisted by the White Rabbit, tries to find who has stolen some tarts. Alice starts growing and tips over the jury box. The Queen asks to sentence the accused now and to hear the verdict later. Alice protests and is sentenced. She replies to her that nobody cares and that they are just a pack of cards. The cards start jumping at her face and that is the moment when she wakes up from her dream.


 

 

Commentary

Alice in Wonderland was written for children. It is a humorous fantasy novel about a child’s dream world with strange people and animals. The language used is simple and the book contains drawings to make it fun to read. The reader sees Wonderland through Alice’s perspective and listens to her inner-monologues. In addition, the book is divided into episodes and stories.

All these different aspects make it an entertaining novel.

However, it was written during the Victorian Age, a time when children books had a didactical purpose. That is why this novel is also meant for educational purposes: it describes the growth of Alice from an unruly little girl, always questioning everything, to a wise woman.

Another facet of this book is its criticism. Alice was the first child character in English literacy to criticize the world of the grown-ups, showing their hypocrisy and their pride. Indeed, in Wonderland, people, animals and creatures symbolize adulthood. As they think in the most illogical way, the more Alice tries to understand them, the more she gets confused.

Finally, Alice in Wonderland was written in a very unusual way. The author used “nonsense verses”, a process of treating logic in an ironic way. It was done by playing strange word games with apparently no signification, presenting absurd rhymes, and asking riddles that had no answer. For instance, many of the names of characters are word games (the Cheshire cat, the March Hare…). Moreover Carroll likes to invent neologisms such as ‘uglification’ or ‘muchness’. They create a singular atmosphere in the book.

 


 

Analysis of an excerpt

The eleventh chapter is the last but one of the book. It is a key passage in the book and brings a good insight on fantasizing aspect of the book. 

The chapter is entitled ‘Who stole the tarts?’ and concerns a trial started to find out if the Knave of Hearts is guilty of having stolen the Queen’s tarts. The King plays the Judge and animals form a jury.

The Queen’s tendency to sentence everyone to death scares witnesses and the Jury. It endangers Justice because they are afraid to do their duty.

During the second part of the chapter, Alice starts growing.

This moment of the story is quite comic. Indeed, there are many word games and the trial soon becomes a farce because no one tries to prove anything.

In this extract, the author’s message gives the impression of being that rules have no advantage if they are applied by a tyrannical. It also tells us that behaving reasonably with rules is behaving as an adult. Otherwise rules would be useless.

For the first time, during the whole trial, Alice does not interfere and hardly speaks. This is because the trial is an important adult event. This, together with the fact that she is growing symbolize her becoming wiser, at the end of the book.

The witnesses at the trial are the mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse. They emphasize the absurdity of the Queen’s trial as they talk nonsense and contradict each other.

It seems that the trial is an opportunity for the author to gather as much characters from the book as possible.

Moreover, the process of dealing with a trial, a matter that should be logical, in such an absurd way at the end of the book, aims at increasing the nonsense and prepares the reader to the story’s outcome. That is how, in the next chapter, Alice will wake up from her dream after rising up against the Queen.


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    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      Alice in wonderland is one of my favorite books. I loved your review, very well written. I rated it up

    • GollyGeeWilliKers profile image

      GollyGeeWilliKers 6 years ago

      I love this book so much. Love the review, very well written. Great summery of the whole thing.

    • profile image

      saketh 6 years ago

      hi this is a very great review

    • profile image

      charita 5 years ago

      very useful!

      thank you

    • profile image

      Thinku 5 years ago

      Its really helpful

    • profile image

      thinkalvb@gmail.com 5 years ago

      this rokes it really helped me in my projects

    • profile image

      Keltsho choden 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed goin through ur review, i ike it..........

    • profile image

      sphurti 5 years ago

      bekar

    • profile image

      shinjini bhattacharya 5 years ago

      the review helped in my holiday homwork thank u very much

    • profile image

      Parijwal 5 years ago

      Hate it............my little bro could write better

    • profile image

      mahima 5 years ago

      this is just splendid amazing to read

    • profile image

      kriti 5 years ago

      awesome review and vry useful .........loved it

    • profile image

      thileeban 5 years ago

      thank you to hug books

    • profile image

      haritha 5 years ago

      awesome

      i can do my hw easily

    • profile image

      kriti 5 years ago

      it's so well written that i want to write comments evreday

    • profile image

      Jess 5 years ago

      This was the absolute worst book that I have ever read! I had to read for a school project and do a report on it, there is no theme or moral to it so it makes that part of the report difficult, and it also is extremely confusing with no real meaning to it.It was also very wordy, rhimy, and very stupid! I would not recommend this book at all! Oh, I read the one that was origanally written by Lewis Carroll.

    • profile image

      krishnaks@g.mail.com 5 years ago

      thanking for giving this all.

    • profile image

      ayushi singh 4 years ago

      thanks...this review helped me in my holiday homework..

    • profile image

      twinkle 4 years ago

      nice one.....helped me in doing my sister projects..

    • profile image

      kara 4 years ago

      you are very rude Jess saying it is the worst book so I believe it is brilliant

    • profile image

      dug 4 years ago

      alice is one of the most creative movie and book ever made well that's my opinion

    • profile image

      Nikki 4 years ago

      Best book ever! (:

    • profile image

      Rinsha And Saeeda 4 years ago

      This was the very nice and superb story that we read

    • profile image

      vedika mishra 4 years ago

      Thanks.....this review helped me in my holiday homework.

      And the best book ever

    • profile image

      GANESH M S 4 years ago

      THANKS ......THIS REVIEW HELPED ME IN DOING ASSIGNMENT

    • profile image

      chatterjee 4 years ago

      Helped me in doing my homework

    • profile image

      KHIZRA ASIF 4 years ago

      IT IS A INTRESTING STORY BOOK IT IS A GOOD BOOK

    • profile image

      ANITTA 4 years ago

      GOOD

    • profile image

      Krisla Wagner 4 years ago

      I love it.

    • profile image

      japsuleen kaur 4 years ago

      Very intresting and good book...................I luv it

    • profile image

      pavithra pillai 4 years ago

      thankzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 4 helping me to do ma project work hug pages

      ..

    • profile image

      Riddhi agarwal 4 years ago

      nice book !!

    • profile image

      navneet 4 years ago

      thanks . this review helped in my holidays homework

    • profile image

      Riddhi agarwal 4 years ago

      veryyyyyy nice review

      thankssss

    • profile image

      ali 3 years ago

      It helps me in my school project in holidays

    • profile image

      daman 3 years ago

      thank you very much........................

    • profile image

      jacob kunnonny 3 years ago

      very good

    • profile image

      nita 3 years ago

      this review helped me a lot. ty..........

    • profile image

      Meet 3 years ago

      this review helped me a lot,you must also try

    • profile image

      Nawrine rahman 3 years ago

      There are many grammar mistakes...........

      poor english.....

    • profile image

      yashika chambling 3 years ago

      This story is very interesti

      ng i like it

    • profile image

      Poojitha 3 years ago

      very good book.Helped me in my homework.My work has become very easy

    • profile image

      arpita sahoo 3 years ago

      it is very intresting book

    • profile image

      dishita 3 years ago

      outstanding book heped me a lot ...

      those who r saying that this is worst book they r the only who r worst

    • profile image

      Parth kumar 3 years ago

      it is very usefull in my homework

      .

    • profile image

      Ricky Galan 2 years ago

      Very useful for me to copy it in my composition note for english subject

    • profile image

      vijay 2 years ago

      this review is really useful for all including the studious students of this world.thank u for this review

    • profile image

      hrshit 2 years ago

      i love Lewis croll

    • profile image

      shakada 2 years ago

      It is very stupid can u at lease make it a five line paragraph

    • profile image

      sweety 2 years ago

      nice but small review is better

    • profile image

      hdhdhdd 2 years ago

      nice , very useful

    • profile image

      mrityunjoy 2 years ago

      it is awesome . it is one of the great books . it also help me in doing my project.

    • profile image

      orkhed 2 years ago

      this review has helped me alot with my secondery school homework since as i have a lot

    • profile image

      aditi 2 years ago

      Helped in doing my holiday homework..................

    • profile image

      Aditi chauhan 2 years ago

      The worst summary ever read in life

      Its really booooooring...............

    • profile image

      Lovely 2 years ago

      Interesting book ...................... Love it

      Thanks for my assignment

    • profile image

      Anshuman 2 years ago

      It is very good book for children's

    • profile image

      Aryaman dagar 24 months ago

      Awesome book it is

    • profile image

      anu 23 months ago

      It is beautiful story for children 's

    • profile image

      Huky123456789 18 months ago

      This was really helpful but parijwal,Jess,nawrine rahman ,shakada and sweety we're rude

    • profile image

      olacaracola 17 months ago

      caca

    • profile image

      Caca 16 months ago

      Bad book

    • profile image

      asya 12 months ago

      its a very beautiful illustrated book with a lot of anxiety and mystery.I liked the book a lot

    • profile image

      sanjana 12 months ago

      this book was awesome

    • profile image

      sanjana 12 months ago

      this book was awesome

    • profile image

      jiya 12 months ago

      This book was really helpful for me

    • profile image

      aditi 12 months ago

      alice in wonderland is very nice book for children.......very interesting story

    • profile image

      Tanish 12 months ago

      This book was written by Lewis Carroll not by Charles lutwidge

    • profile image

      luke 11 months ago

      wow did you not read that lewis carrol was a pen name

    • profile image

      pvt 6 months ago

      nice review. Helped in my speaking skills.

    • profile image

      Ms 6 months ago

      It really helped in my projects and increased the anxiety to read books

    • profile image

      Mehak 4 months ago

      Really very useful.....It really helped me in my project work...... It's an awesome book review......

    • profile image

      Sarthak 5 weeks ago

      Very cool and nice

    • profile image

      Harshita 5 weeks ago

      I used it in my Class and my teacher liked it a lot

    • profile image

      aarika gautam 30 hours ago

      My one of the favourite book . I loved your review very well written . And thanks to the writer for giving his book

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