Alice’s escape

We've all read or watched the adapted version of Lewis Carroll’s (Charles Dodgson’s) distinguished classic 'Alice in the Wonderland'. The same story, the same plot, the same dialogues speak differently to us once we grow up and finally say adieu to neverland and the childish innocence in us ceases. There are myriad theories of what the author was trying to tell us through this engaging and compulsive narration like the tale is an allusion to the War of the Roses that took place in England in the 15th century (that period was full of scheming, betrayal, and there were a lot of chopped heads — just like in the tale) or the conjectures that Alice was under the influence of drugs (Alice drinks potions and eats pieces of mushroom to change her physical state and atmosphere of the story is so profoundly disjointed from reality - surely drugs must have had an influence, after all, this was the era of legal opium use) on the other hand there are speculations that characters present symptoms of various psychological disorders in some form or another, but without explicitly mentioning mental health (the story is so infused with mental illness that two characters actually had syndromes named after them: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (disorientating condition affecting perception of size) and Mad Hatter Disease (synonymous with chronic mercury poisoning)) and not forgetting the rumors that began to surface that Lewis Carroll wrote the book under the influence of drugs, particularly opium or laudanum (a tempting theory – after all the story has Alice eating 'magic' mushrooms and meeting hookah-smoking caterpillar).


Here's my take on this lovable classic:

As a writer, writing is usually my escape, my release, my break from reality. Alice is an oblivious naive child whose family backstory as a whole we have no access to but what we do have an unobstructed and accessible entrance to is her imagination. I believe her imagination is her escape, her way to keep on living her monotonous life, her way to keep on existing, by existing in the non-existent. All the vivid weird ghastly creatures and their wild absurd antiques speak to me how Alice's rollercoaster of a dream/drug effect/hallucinations is her way of coping up with her life, and dealing with boring and tedious life. I think the author is clandestinely giving us a hidden lesson through his obscure story, the way to our escape, like Alice’s it doesn’t have to be a physical way out but could be just a mere trip down a nostalgic lane or a ride in our imagination. The author beguiles us, implores us, beseeches us to explore, to find our escape, and choose between the blue and red pill which would either lead to our escape, the exit which is an entrance to our homespun haven, or stay in the same boring reality.


To conclude, ultimately, perhaps it's more enjoyable for the full intentions of the author to remain unknown during the reading of the book.


"In a way, it doesn't matter," says Browne. "I don't think Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland to be interpreted. He wrote it to entertain."


Links to my research:

https://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hcht/blog/de-stigmatizing-mental-illness-early-role-of-childhood animations

http://yestervid.com/was-lewis-carroll-on-drugs-when-he-wrote-alice-in-wonderland/ https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19254839



Author ~ Riya Pote

Editor ~ Khushi Luniya


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