The “Alice” books mock the moralizing children’s literature of the Victorian era;
The tone of the books mimics the simplistic morals of the attempts to educate the young and discloses their absurdity;
The books don’t teach children lessons, but create imaginative worlds where children are allowed to let their minds roam free;
Style of writing that is both logical and non-sensical.
Mathematical Deterministic principles
Curiosity Fantasy (will develop into a genre of its own during the 20th century) Silliness
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (published 1865)
Genre: nonsense literature
Example: “’Mine is a long and a sad tale!’ said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
‘It is a long tail, certainly,’ said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail’ ‘but why do you call it sad?’”
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Other genre interpretations:
As an allegory, Alice in Wonderland can be interpreted as a story intended for the Oxford community, because of the many allusions to people and places belonging to the world of Christ Church College.
A commentary on the position of a rational being in a mad world. Alice is a girl brought up in the conventions of the time, who has to cope with unusual situations. It is difficult for her to accept the absurd in Wonderland because she is a rational human being.
A metaphorical voyage of initiation, during which Alice grows up and becomes an adult.
Victorian England, the upper-middle-class;
Wonderland –a fantasy land where sense and nonsense function at the same time.
Main theme: Identity. Alice’s identity and perspective are constantly changing throughout the story. Because of this instability, Alice often feels anxious and confused, but she is also enabled to explore what is actually representative of her identity (outer norms or inner convictions).
Language and communication;
The philosophical absurd;
Freedom and limitations;
Alice is sitting on a riverbank and is feeling bored. Suddenly, a White Rabbit appears, checking its pocket watch and saying that it’s late. Alice follows him and falls down a rabbit hole that takes her to Wonderland. There, she meets all kinds of fantastical characters and has lots of adventures. She constantly tries to find a beautiful garden which she only glimpsed in the beginning, but she is held back by complications. When she finally reaches the garden, she becomes entangled in the court of the Queen of Hearts, is put on trial, and escapes by growing to her regular size. In the end, Alice wakes up on the river bank, beside her sister.
Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.
Alice – a seven-year-old little girl from an upper-middle-class family in Victorian England. She is the protagonist, used to an orderly and stable world. She is very curious. When in Wonderland, she feels frustrated as it never fits her perceptions of the world. In the end, she realises that her inner thoughts, perceptions, or truths are more important than the outside rigid (and often absurd) rules.
The White Rabbit – the creature that leads Alice to Wonderland. In Wonderland, he is an important figure, but he is timid and sometimes aggressive.
The Queen of Hearts – the ruler of Wonderland. She is severe and domineering, always screams and orders for her subjects to be beheaded. She is the embodiment of an absurd system.
The Mad Hatter – a small, impolite hatter who lives in perpetual tea-time. He enjoys frustrating Alice.
POINT OF VIEW
Third-person point of view.
Limited omniscience. The narrator hovers at a distance from the action of the story and sees everything that goes on. The narrative is entirely focused on Alice, her thoughts are revealed and commented on, but the perspective belongs to the narrator.
Playful, sympathetic. The narrator takes up jokes and uses them as much as possible. When Alice’s feelings are concerned, the tone is sometimes sympathetic and innocent.
Simple language, although longer words and Victorian customs are probably difficult to comprehend for children of Alice’s age;
Plays on words;
Poetic language in the form of parodies of nursery rhymes, songs, and original nonsense poetry.
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