Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Written over a hundred years ago, the story of the little girl who follows a mysterious white rabbit into a magical underground world never seems to grow old. Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been retold so many times through different mediums such as books, movies, and television shows. Each time the story is redone the author takes on a new twist.

Many readers may be familiar with the newest film adaptation of the book to be released on DVD in June, Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. The film stars high name actors and actresses such as Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter. In Treatment actress, Mia Wasikowska, plays the title role of Alice.  Burton’s movie, however, is more of a third installment to Carroll’s novel and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass.

Original artwork by John Tenniel.

Retold and adapted so many times and with the release of the new star-studded film, one might become curious to read the original book that started the Alice frenzy. The book was initially called Alice’s Adventures Underground and was written by Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The story of Alice was made up on a whim on a boat outing with a few colleagues and their children, one of them being ten year old Alice Liddell. Dodgson then wrote the story down on paper at the request of little Alice and it was later published under a penname of Lewis Carroll. Since being published in 1865, the story has had minor detail and illustrator changes. Nonetheless, Carroll’s story has become a classic tale familiar in homes across the world.

Alice’s adventure begins one day as she sits on a bank in England with her sister, minding her own business. She notices a white rabbit pass by in a hurry and follows him out of curiosity, right into the famous rabbit hole.  The rabbit hole takes her to a magical world filled with riddles, rhymes, and curious creatures.  In this magical world of Wonderland, mysterious liquids and mushrooms shrink or enlarge Alice’s height, caterpillars smoke hookahs, and a cat with a wide mischievous grin has the ability to vanish into thin air and reappear.  Alice explores this new world by herself and comes into contact with the most curious of creatures, all of which can talk. The people of this world do things differently than Alice is used to, like playing croquet with flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls.  In Wonderland, Alice must do her best to keep out of the way of the Queen of Hearts who has a fascination with execution: “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small.  ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round” (97).

Original artwork by John Tenniel.

At times the story can grow dull as Carroll fills the pages with Alice’s own thoughts: “I wonder if I shall fall right through the Earth? How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward.”  However, her own thoughts allow the reader to see her innocence as a child alone in a mysterious place and add a detailed narration to the story.  And the story being told is one of great imagination.  Carroll gives just enough details to let his readers form a vision of the story in their head.  With the talking creatures and magical happenings, the reader has to have an open mind and playful imagination to enjoy it.

The words “Alice in Wonderland,” when searched, result in about 42,100,000 findings on Google.  The story has inspired a variety of merchandise such as t-shirts, bed sheets and stationary.  The images of Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit have become familiar to children and adults all over the world.  Although it is the story of a little girl, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is not just for children.  It is meant for all ages to enjoy the tales of Wonderland, the magical underground world where anything could happen.

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