An Analysis of Alice

 

Alice vogue

I am a huge Lewis Carroll fan.  The Alice stories (In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) are among the best ever written. To my thinking, they are worthy of analyzing and revisiting many times over, always with something new to be discovered.

Because the original work is presented with a good deal of abstract symbolism, readers often misunderstand, or are completely baffled by the text. (Especially if they are trying to decipher it on an adult level.)  Hence, film makers tend to go ‘over the top’, often presenting the story with a lot of bells and whistles that were not included in the original story. (Tim Burton and Disney both did this.)

It is, at its core, a story about questioning authority. Carroll pokes fun at just about every Victorian institution. His attack at  child rearing, for example, is evident in the fate of the baby that turns into a pig.

Alice pig

He pokes fun at the school system, evident in the ‘reeling and writhing’ classes of the mock turtle. He makes fun of he British monarchy (‘Off with her head’ is a reference to its once frequent be-headings.)

Alice flamingo

The War of the Roses is also mocked, with the servants painting roses from white to red (representing York and Lancaster dynasties.) The court system is criticized in the Knave of Hearts’ trial. There is a message about being controlled by schedules in the rabbit’s obsession with his watch and the idea of ‘beating time’.

The Alice books show a test of one’s ability to adapt. Alice finds herself in the strangest of circumstances and tries her best to fit in. In the end she discovers the Wonderland creatures are ‘nothing but a pack of cards’ and thus no better than she herself. (Lower than she herself actually…)

As in any quest for knowledge, and as is frequently the experience of one ‘growing up’, Alice often becomes ‘too big’ for her own surroundings.

Alice house

She may be terrified at the changes within her own mind and body – frequently the experience of adolescents and young adults. And yet, as the frog footmen, the lizards and rabbits scurry about, Alice is aware of their silliness, much in the same way an enlightened being becomes aware of the triviality of the world.

Perhaps most importantly, the books teach self actualization. Alice is frustrated, but in the end she realizes her nuanced opinions have some validity. Her experience is just as important as anyone  else’s.

No wonder Wonderland became so popular!  First published in 1865, it has never been out of print. The first fans of the Alice books included Queen Victoria and Oscar Wilde.  The Alice books are also reportedly the most quoted books in the English language, right up there with the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.

Carroll was among the first to use a dream sequence in a novel — a technique that became more popular with the work of Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century. Today dream sequence in film is almost passe’. We have seen it a hundred times, and it is frequently uses as a cliffhanger, or to ‘trick’ the viewer.  But back then it was certainly innovative.

Ironically, although Carroll is frequently accused of drug use, the kinds of drugs they associate him with were not discovered until much later. For example, ‘magic mushrooms’ were discovered in 1955, and LSD was first synthesized in 1938, which I guess proves that Carroll had a brilliant imagination.

alice mushroom

So, forget Tim Burton and all other fabrications. Here I give you a movie which is actually very close in sentiment to the Real Alice!

This 1972 film, directed by William Sterling, captures the intent of Lewis Carroll. Using most of the book’s original dialogue, script writing owes credit to Carroll as well as Sterling. The talented cast includes Fiona Fullerton, Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers.

Although the film is lacking in super-duper mind blowing special effects (it was, after all, made in 1972 on a limited budget) it nonetheless does a great job of capturing Carroll’s  ideas.

Running time is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Hope you get a chance to watch it!

 

 

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Maybe…

 

dream-vision pd

somewhere                                                                                                                                                between                                                                                                                                                     Bermuda triangles tangles comets and                                                                                               satellite celluloid  there exists                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a  black  hole                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and some person  who is                                                                                                                              a near likeness to you                                                                                                                           sits on a shore where time                                                                                                                         moves in different increments

No one is ever late

or early

or even ‘punctual’

 

They need                                                                                                                                                       no elections no protections, no laws  no cause

they never                                                                                                                                                     EVER                                                                                                                                                                 say things like ‘tomorrow’ or

‘maybe’ or  ‘someday’

They just are.

Being

Here

Now.

 

dreams pd 3

 

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt  Maybe

Poem of the Day: in Just – by e e cummings

steampunk_nymphs_and_satyr_by_k1ow3

 

in Just-

spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles          far          and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
color-mables
spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
hopscotch
it’s
spring

and

         the
                  goat-footed
balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee
pan

 

About the author:e e cummings never bothered capitalizing his own name.  He even legally changed it to use lower case letters, as he often did in his poetry.  Born Edward Estlin Cummings ( 1894 – 1962)  he was an American poet,  painter, author and playwright.

He was a decided Bohemian who did time in the salons of 1920’s Paris, no stranger to the likes of  Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound  and Picasso.  He was also  a right wing Republican who, back home in the U.S. A.,  supported Red-Scare senator Joseph McCarthy in  1950’s anti-Communist campaigns.  His work was influenced by Dada, Surrealism, Transcendentalism and experimentation of all kinds.

 in Just –  was first published in May, 1920.  Some say this poem is about little kids playing marbles, some say it is about puberty and sexual awakenings. Well now. You decide  🙂

goat_footed_balloon_man

 Happy Poetry Month!