Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is the first book about Wonderland,a place populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.


Chapter GuideEdit

Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Hole
Chapter 2: The Pool of Tears
Chapter 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale
Chapter 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar
Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper
Chapter 7: A Mad Tea Party
Chapter 8: The Queen's Croquet Ground
Chapter 9: The Mock Turtle's story
Chapter 10: The Lobster Quadrille
Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?
Chpater 12: Alice's Evidence

Characters in Alice's Adventures in WonderlandEdit

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File:Alice in Wonderland.jpg

Misconception of charactersEdit

Although Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Humpty Dumpty, and the Jabberwock are often thought to be characters in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, they actually only appear later in Through the Looking-Glass. They are, however, often included in film versions, which are usually simply called "Alice in Wonderland," often causing the confusion.

Character allusionsEdit

The members of the boating party that first heard Carroll's tale all show up in Chapter 3 ("A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale") in one form or another. There is, of course, Alice herself, while Carroll, or Charles Dodgson, is caricatured as the Dodo. Carroll is known as the Dodo because Dodgson stuttered when he spoke, thus if he spoke his last name it would be Do-Do-Dodgson. The Duck refers to Rev. Robinson Duckworth, the Lory to Lorina Liddell, and the Eaglet to Edith Liddell.

Bill the Lizard may be a play on the name of Benjamin Disraeli. One of Tenniel's illustrations in Through the Looking-Glass depicts a caricature of Disraeli, wearing a paper hat, as a passenger on a train. The illustrations of the Lion and the Unicorn also bear a striking resemblance to Tenniel's Punch illustrations of William Ewart Gladstone and Disraeli.

The Hatter is most likely a reference to Theophilus Carter, a furniture dealer known in Oxford for his unorthodox inventions. Tenniel apparently drew the Hatter to resemble Carter, on a suggestion of Carroll's.

The Dormouse tells a story about three little sisters named Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie. These are the Liddell sisters: Elsie is L.C. (Lorina Charlotte), Tillie is Edith (her family nickname is Matilda), and Lacie is an anagram of Alice.

The Mock Turtle speaks of a Drawling-master, "an old conger eel", that used to come once a week to teach "Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils". This is a reference to the art critic John Ruskin, who came once a week to the Liddell house to teach the children drawing, sketching, and painting in oils. (The children did, in fact, learn well; Alice Liddell, for one, produced a number of skilled watercolours.)

The Mock Turtle also sings "Turtle Soup". This is a parody of a song called "Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star", which was performed as a trio by Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell for Lewis Carroll in the Liddell home during the same summer in which he first told the story of Alice's Adventures Under Ground (source: the diary of Lewis Carroll, August 1, 1862 entry).


Poems and songsEdit

  • "All in the golden afternoon..." —the prefatory verse, an original poem by Carroll that recalls the rowing expedition on which he first told the story of Alice's adventures underground
  • "How Doth the Little Crocodile" — a parody of Isaac Watts' nursery rhyme, "Against Idleness And Mischief"
  • "The Mouse's Tale" —an example of concrete poetry
  • "You Are Old, Father William" — a parody of Robert Southey's "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them"
  • The Duchess' lullaby, "Speak roughly to your little boy..." — a parody of David Bates' "Speak Gently"
  • "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat" — a parody of "Twinkle twinkle little star"
  • The Lobster Quadrille — a parody of Mary Botham Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly"
  • "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster" — a parody of "The Sluggard"
  • Turtle Soup — a parody of James M. Sayles' "Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star"
  • "The Queen of Hearts..." — an actual nursery rhyme
  • "They told me you had been to her..." — the White Rabbit's evidence

Tenniel's illustrationsEdit

John Tenniel's illustrations of Alice do not portray the real Alice Liddell, who had dark hair and a short fringe. Carroll sent Tenniel a photograph of Mary Hilton Babcock, another child-friend, but whether Tenniel actually used Babcock as his model is open to dispute.

Famous lines and expressionsEdit

The term "Wonderland", from the title, has entered the language and refers to a marvellous imaginary place, or else a real-world place that one perceives to have dream like qualities. It challenges and takes on real-life matters. It, like much of the Alice work, is widely referred to in popular culture.

"Down the Rabbit-Hole", the Chapter 1 title, has become a popular term for going on an adventure into the unknown. In computer gaming, a "rabbit hole" may refer to the initiating element that drives the player to enter the game. In drug culture, "going down the rabbit hole" is a metaphor for taking drugs.

In Chapter 6, the Cheshire Cat's disappearance prompts Alice to say one of her most memorable lines: "...a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"

In Chapter 7, the Hatter gives his famous riddle without an answer: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Although Carroll intended the riddle to have no solution, in a new preface to the 1896 edition of Alice, he proposes several answers: "Because it can produce a few notes, though… they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" (Note the spelling of "never" as "nevar"—turning it into "raven" when inverted. This spelling, however, was "corrected" in later editions to "never" and Carroll's pun was lost.) Puzzle expert Sam Loyd offered the following solutions:

  • Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes
  • Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both
  • They both have inky quills ("inkwells")
  • Bills and tales ("tails") are among their characteristics
  • Because they both stand on their legs, conceal their steels ("steals"), and ought to be made to shut up

Many other answers are listed in The Annotated Alice. In Frank Beddor's novel Seeing Redd, the main antagonist, Queen Redd (a megalomaniac parody of the Queen of Hearts) meets Lewis Carroll and declares that the answer to the riddle is "Because I say so." Carroll is too terrified to contradict her.

Arguably the most famous quote is used when the Queen of Hearts screams "Off with her head!" at Alice (and everyone else she feels slightly annoyed with). Possibly Carroll here was echoing a scene in Shakespeare's Richard III (III, iv, 76) where Richard demands the execution of Lord Hastings, crying "Off with his head!"

When Alice is growing taller after eating the cake labeled "Eat me" she says, "curiouser and curiouser", a famous line that is still used today to describe an event with extraordinary wonder.

Symbolism in the textEdit

References to mathematicsEdit

Since Carroll was a mathematician at Christ Church, it has been suggested that there are many references and mathematical concepts in both this story and also in Through the Looking-Glass; examples include:

  • In chapter 1, "Down the Rabbit-Hole", in the midst of shrinking, Alice waxes philosophic concerning what final size she will end up as, perhaps "going out altogether, like a candle."; this pondering reflects the concept of a Limit.
  • In chapter 2, "The Pool of Tears", Alice tries to perform multiplication but produces some odd results: "Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is--oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate!". This explores the representation of numbers using different bases and positional numeral systems (4 x 5 = 12 in base 18 notation; 4 x 6 = 13 in base 21 notation. 4 x 7 could be 14 in base 24 notation, following the sequence).
  • In chapter 5, "Advice from a Caterpillar", the Pigeon asserts that little girls are some kind of serpent, for both little girls and serpents eat eggs. This general concept of abstraction occurs widely in many fields of science; an example in mathematics of employing this reasoning would be in the substitution of variables.
  • In chapter 7, "A Mad Tea-Party", the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse give several examples in which the semantic value of a sentence A is not the same value of the inverse of A (for example, "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"); in logic and mathematics, this is discussing an inverse relationship.
  • Also in chapter 7, Alice ponders what it means when the changing of seats around the circular table places them back at the beginning. This is an observation of addition on a ring of the integers modulo N.

References to the French languageEdit

It has been suggested by several people including Martin Gardner and Selwyn Goodacre that Dodgson had an interest in the French language, choosing to make references and puns about it in the story. It is most likely that these are references to French lessons which would have been a common feature of a Victorian middle-class girl's upbringing. A sampling of these include:

  • In chapter 2, "The Pool of Tears", Alice imagines sending a present to her own foot; she addresses the foot as Alice's Right Foot, Esq.. Esquire is the description of a person whose gender is male; it has been suggested that this is a play on the French word for foot. The word in French is le pied, and due to the rules of the language concerning noun gender, will always be addressed as masculine regardless of the gender of the owner of the foot.
  • Also in chapter 2, Alice posits that the mouse may be French and chooses to speak the first sentence of her French lesson-book to it: "Où est ma chatte?'", or "Where is my cat?"

References to classical languagesEdit

  • In chapter 2, Alice initially addresses the mouse as "O Mouse", based on her vague memory of the noun declensions in her brother's textbook: "A mouse (nominative)-- of a mouse (genitive)-- to a mouse (dative)-- a mouse ([accusative)-- O mouse! (vocative)". This corresponds to the traditional order that was established by Byzantine grammarians (and is still in standard use, except in the United Kingdom and some countries in Western Europe) for the five cases of Classical Greek; because of the absence of the ablative case, which Greek does not have but is found in Latin, the reference is apparently not to the latter as some have supposed.

Historical referencesEdit

  • In chapter 8, three cards are painting the roses on a rose tree red, for they accidentally planted a white-rose tree which the Queen of Hearts hates. Red roses symbolized the English House of Lancaster, while white roses were the symbol for their rival House of York. Therefore, this scene contains a hidden allusion to the Wars of the Roses.

Cinematic adaptationsEdit

  • Alice in Wonderland (1903 film) - the first Alice movie, by Cecil M. Hepworth. Parts of the movie are lost, but what remains is available as a bonus feature on the 1966 BBC DVD;
  • Alice in Wonderland (1933 film) - motion picture
  • Alice in Wonderland (1946 film) directed by George More O'Ferrall, starring Vivien Pickles for BBC television
  • Alice in Wonderland (1949 film)PD - motion picture produced by Lou Bunin, blending live actors with stop-motion animated puppets, nicknamed "the lost Alice." It was suppressed by Disney to avoid competition with their release the same year.
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951 Disney film) animated feature. It popularized the iconic image of Alice in America as a pretty blonde girl in a white pinafore and a blue dress. The character designs owe much to the original iconic Tenniel illustrations. The Disney feature combines story elements from both Alice books. It is notable for its distinctly psychedelic visual feel.


Live performanceEdit

With the immediate popularity of the book, it didn't take long for live performances to begin. One early example is Alice in Wonderland, a musical play by H. Saville Clark (book) and Walter Slaughter (music), which played in 1886 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

As the book and its sequel are Carroll's most widely recognized works, they have also inspired numerous live performances, including plays, operas, ballets, and traditional English pantomimes. These works range from adaptations which are fairly faithful to the original book to those which use the story as a basis for new works. A good example of the latter is The Eighth Square, a murder mystery set in Wonderland, written by Matthew Fleming and music and lyrics by Ben J Macpherson. This goth-toned rock musical premiered in 2006 at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, England].

Over the years, many notable people in the performing arts have been involved in Alice productions. Actress Eva Le Gallienne famously adapted both Alice books for the stage in 1932; this production has been revived in New York in 1947 and 1982. One of the most well-known American productions was Joseph Papp's 1980 staging of Alice in Concert at the Public Theater in New York City. Elizabeth Swados wrote the book, lyrics, and music. Based on both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Papp and Swados had previously produced a version of it at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Meryl Streep played Alice, the White Queen, and Humpty Dumpty. The cast also included Debbie Allen, Michael Jeter, and Mark Linn-Baker. Performed on a bare stage with the actors in modern dress, the play is a loose adaptation, with song styles ranging the globe. This production can be found on DVD.

A free theatre script of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is available from FunAntics Theater Scripts here. It includes the original poems that schoolchildren were expected to recite such as "You are Old Father William" and "The Voice of the Sluggard" which Lewis Carroll satirized.

Similarly, the 1992 operatic production Alice used both Alice books as its inspiration. However, it also employs scenes with Charles Dodgson, a young Alice Liddell, and an adult Alice Liddell, to frame the story. Paul Schmidt wrote the play, with Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan writing the music. Although the original production in Hamburg, Germany, received only a small audience, Tom Waits released the songs as the album Alice in 2002, to much acclaim.

In addition to professional performances, school productions abound. Both high schools and colleges have staged numerous versions of Alice-inspired performances. The imaginative story and large number of characters are well-suited to such productions.

A large-scale operatic adaptation of the story by the Korean composer Unsuk Chin to an English language libretto by David Henry Hwang received its world premiere at the Bavarian State Opera on June 30, 2007.


The book was generally received in a positive light, but has also caught a large amount of derision for its strange and unpredictable tone. One of the best-known critics is fantasy writer Terry Pratchett, who has openly stated that he dislikes the book.[1]

In 1931, the book was banned in Hunan, China because "animals should not use human language" and it "put animals and human beings on the same level."[2]

Works influencedEdit

Main article: Works influenced by Alice in Wonderland

Alice and the rest of Wonderland continue to inspire or influence many other works of art to this day, sometimes indirectly via the Disney movie, for example. The character of the plucky, yet proper, Alice has proven immensely popular and inspired similar heroines in literature and pop culture, many also named Alice in homage.

Other tributes to the storyEdit

The town of Warrington in Cheshire, the nearest town to the village of Daresbury where the Reverend Dodgson lived and worked, has several statues of figures from the story. The figures show the scene of the tea party, whilst allowing room for viewers to sit at the table with the characters. The church in Daresbury, likewise, memorialises the story in several stained glass windows.

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