Insights of Dreams in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass 

Categories: Book ReviewNovels

Lewis Carroll was an English writer of world-famous children’s fiction. Lewis Carroll’s classic tales, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass were brilliant works of satire and parody. Satire is defined as the use of wit, irony or sarcasm to expose vice or folly and parody is a humorous or satirical imitation. Throughout both stories Alice in Wonderland uses satire and parody to show the transition from childhood to adulthood. Dreams in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass depicts the difference between the real world and one’s imagination.

Carroll expresses to the readers that it is okay to struggle through the transition of being a child and finding yourself as a person through the journey of life and he sends his messages through the peculiar dreams of Alice.

Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) were both written in the Victorian Era. The people in that era had a very proper way of living life with strict ideals.

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The Victorians believed that dream and insanity correlated, and this idea revolved around children. An author studying the Victorian times, Janine Rivière mentioned that the lack of ability to differentiate dreams with reality during the process of growing up can eventually lead to insanity in adulthood (Rivière 16). Rivière broke down the dreams can be loosely categorized into three principal frameworks: (1) health of the body and mind, (2) prediction and (3) spiritually (Rivière 205). In Alice in Wonderland, a child falls into a rabbit hole and enters a new dimension within her imagination.

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When Alice first arrives in Wonderland, she is awfully large to fit through the door to the garden, so she sips from the bottle and suddenly shrinks in size to access the key to the door. The process of frequent body changes represents the size, age, and maturity often a young girl goes through during puberty. “I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” (Carroll, Wonderland 19). Carroll tries to imply that we are not the same person we were the day before. Although in Through in Looking-Glass, Alice does not physically grow in size, the chess pieces within the game grow larger. Carroll still focuses on Alice’s age and maturity through the goals she set for herself. “Alice began to remember that she was a Pawn, and that it would soon be time for her to move” (Carroll, TTLG 148). In this sequel, Alice knows what she wants to accomplish, and she sets her mind to it regardless of the encounters she has to face along the way.

Lewis Carroll’s poem, Jabberwocky, in Through the Looking-Glass was recognized as one of his most popular pieces of work. Many define the work “Jabberwocky” as gibberish and nonsensical speech. The first stanza of the poem is very difficult to analyze due to its whimsical nature. It was filled with nonsense words, such as, “brillig,” “slithy,” and “wabe.” The poem voices the story of a fairy-tale, filled with bravery and beats. Carroll purposely used confusing words to associate the foolishness and immatureness of Alice in the story who is still trying to understand her surroundings. Besides from the word play within the poem, imagery was an essential component. August A. Imholtz Jr. wrote a small analysis on Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem. Imholtz mentions that imagery is apparent from the start where the action is taking place on a land other than their own, a land other than Wonderland (Imholtz 212). “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas-only I don’t exactly know what they are” (Carroll, Wonderland 132). As readers, we may not understand the puzzling words, but Carroll paints the picture of a boy slaying a monster and returning home to his father bearing the head of the beast (Imholtz 213). The moral of this poem was to show bravery and courage to stand up against a beast which motivates Alice to go through her adventures without any fear for future challenges. This message works for her in the dream and in real life. No matter how hard the situation may be, never doubt yourself and conquer everything in your way to success.

Another popular poem within the same text was The Walrus and the Carpenter. This poem is recited by the fat twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee to Alice. This poem was about a walrus and a carpenter who came off shore and encountered a bed of oysters. The Walrus is known for eating the most oysters, but the carpenter ate the most he could (overload). This can be interpreted as a man’s use, or abuse, or even exploitation, of others in order to get what he wants. The rest of the story is strangely a demonstration of Charles Darwin concept of natural selection, “survival for the fittest.”

Although it was easier to follow with Alice in Wonderland the sequel Through the Looking-Glass was a little more complicated. This story revolved around a game of chess which had Alice as a pawn. Alice’s goal was to become a queen herself, and the Red Queen directs her throughout the whole game. Alice has to reach the eighth square in order for this aspiration of realization. Throughout her journey she encounters numerous of characters such as, Humpty Dumpty, Red Knight, Lion and Unicorn battle, and etc. The Knight looked surprised at the question. ‘What does it matter where my body happens to be?’ he said. ‘My mind goes on working all the same” (Carroll, TTLG 163). As mentioned earlier, for most people it is difficult to separate what is happening to your body (reality) from what is going through your mind (dream world). This game somehow reflects the real life, making the right decision and the right move to be able to get closer to winning the game. Alice a pawn to show that there are many critical decisions she will have to take in life with a bunch of obstacles that come in the way.

Even though the two novels are sequels by the same author and have the same characters they have various different components. First and the most obvious was Alice’s characteristics. The story Alice in Wonderland, Alice was more in the background just observing everything/everyone around her. Whereas in Through the Looking-Glass, she was more in control over her destiny. In chapter one Alice talks to the kitten saying, “That’s three faults, Kitty, and you’ve not been punished for any of them yet. You know I’m saving up all your punishments for Wednesday week” (Carroll, TTLG 2). Judging by the way she talks to her pets, she seems like a dominant person. She ultimately wants to be their judge and determine what happens to the cats. Another important incident in Alice in Wonderland was the “Mad Tea Party.” The rules were being bent and everything was chaotic. I noticed how Alice’s behavior and tone changed throughout this whole scene. The story started off with her being this quiet and curious little girl and towards this scene she becomes very obnoxious and full of anger. This behavior caused Alice to contradict her own nature. This teaches us to remain calm in situations and do not let anger take control of you.

Though the many encounters with mad characters, Carroll reveals to his readers that retaining some of your “childhood madness” does not result in adult craziness. Within all the morals of the story, Carroll is trying to tell the younger audience that it is okay for them to explore their imaginations and creativity which Alice embodies. She perpetually dives deeper into Wonderland without any hesitation. She questions everything and that ultimately leads further into her creativity and imagination. The author also tries to communicate that going through puberty is awkward and strange; your body experiences different kinds of changes but you just have to embrace yourself. There were numerous numbers of messages and morals behind this tale. One of the main lessons from this story was to be yourself and dream of the impossible. It is okay to be curious and impulsive from time to time, it’s part of the journey to discover who you really are because you are a different person today than you were yesterday. Similarly, in Through the Looking-Glass, Alice tells Hatter, “But a dream is not reality.” The Mad Hatter looks at her and says, “But who is to say which is which? Many times, we have dreams which do turn into a reality. It reminds me of the dreams and goals I have in life. If I work hard, they can become a reality.

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  Insights of Dreams in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass . (2021, Oct 11). Retrieved from

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