Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Cheshire Cat Character Analysis

is a large, smiling cat with the power to vanish and appear whenever he likes, causing him to be a bit smug, even in the face of the King and Queen of Hearts. He guides Alice in certain directions and reappears as if to check on her, and she seems to like him.

The Cheshire Cat Quotes in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland quotes below are all either spoken by The Cheshire Cat or refer to The Cheshire Cat. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bantam Classics edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland published in 1984.
Chapter 6 Quotes

'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'

Related Characters: Alice (speaker), The Cheshire Cat (speaker)
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage, one of the most quoted from Carroll’s work, comes during Alice’s interaction with Wonderland’s perplexing Cheshire Cat: a character who seems wise, yet who never conveys any real knowledge to Alice or to the reader. He functions, then, almost as a parody of the truth-teller figure we might expect at this point in a childhood adventure tale. The Cat is prompted to make his comment on universal insanity when Alice asks advice on where to go and the Cat observes that both of her options—one leads to a Hatter, one to a March Hare—will bring her into contact with mad characters.

Once again, Carroll makes a mockery of supposedly logical statements: The Cheshire Cat constructs a quick proof of Alice’s madness based on 1) All inhabitants of Wonderland are mad 2) Alice is in Wonderland 3) Therefore Alice is mad. This type of thinking recalls Alice’s own failed attempts to define identity, but here the Cheshire Cat does not cite details concerning her personal characteristics. Instead he focuses on the environment in which Alice has found herself, implying that identity is more a factor of who and what surrounds Alice, not something internal to her character.

Furthermore, the claim of universal insanity makes a broader statement on Wonderland—and on the adult world that a maturing Alice is learning how to navigate. Though she might expect it to be firmly grounded in rules and ordered systems, it is in fact highly chaotic and fundamentally unhinged. Accepting this lesson becomes another component of her emotional growth as she progresses in Wonderland.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Alice's Adventures in Wonderland quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire Alice in Wonderland LitChart as a printable PDF.
Alice s adventures in wonderland.pdf.medium

The Cheshire Cat Character Timeline in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The timeline below shows where the character The Cheshire Cat appears in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6 - Pig and Pepper
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Words, Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
...the excessive amount of pepper the cook is putting in the soup; everybody except a cat, which sits on the hearth, smiling. Alice asks the group nervously why the cat is... (full context)
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Words, Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
The Nature of Being and Not Being Theme Icon
The Cheshire Cat appears, grinning as before. Alice asks it which way to go. The Cat replies that... (full context)
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Words, Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
The Cat asks Alice if she is going to play croquet with the Queen today but Alice... (full context)
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
Words, Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
...Hatter, and shouldn’t be too mad, because it’s past March. As she sets off, the Cat appears again to check if Alice had said “pig” or “fig”, and then finally disappears... (full context)
Chapter 8 - The Queen's Croquet-Ground
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Words, Meaning and Meaninglessness Theme Icon
The Nature of Being and Not Being Theme Icon
Just then, the Cheshire Cat appears, and Alice waits for its ears to arrive, before telling it her qualms with... (full context)