Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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The Garden Symbol Icon
Alice finds herself in a giant hall at the end of the rabbit hole, surrounded by locked doors. She becomes frustrated and sad, homesick for her family and her pet, but when a tiny door appears and she manages to peer inside at a beautiful garden, she has something to aim for. The garden, full of beautiful colors and cool fountains, is an idyllic vision and Alice is desperate to get to it. It represents her desire, her will, and her belief in goodness and happiness.

The Garden Quotes in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Garden. 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 1 Quotes

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head though the doorway.

Related Characters: Alice
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point in the text, Alice has just followed the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and has met her first Wonderland obstacle: she is too big to fit through the “rat-hole” doorway.

This moment is crucial because it establishes the absurd world of Wonderland, in which normal physical and spatial logic does not apply. Further, the portrayal of Alice as desperate, but unable, to get outside captures profound aspects of childhood: the desire to play and the restraint placed on that desire by society, whether parental rules in the “real” world or a too-small door here. (It’s also worth noting that these images are reminiscent of the romantic gardens of which Carroll’s contemporaries wrote, as well as the environments he may have been accustomed to seeing around Oxford College, where he taught—gardens where children often weren’t allowed to play.)

The fact that Alice can’t even get her head through the doorway also indicates that she tries to get through the doorway, implying a child’s wishful belief that wanting something enough can make the impossible become possible. While the tiny door is itself an absurd and illogical thing to find in a big dark hall, Alice’s inability to get through it here creates a sense that there is some logic to this world that makes sense: big things can’t pass through small openings. But moments later Alice will shrink. Thus this image of Alice beside the small door creates a sense of logical stability that the novel then immediately subverts—Alice is able to get through, and so her childish effort to get through an absurdly small door is rewarded rather than proved to be silly, as it would in the “real” world. Wonderland is a world where rules can get broken precisely in the way that a child might wish real world rules could be broken.

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Chapter 8 Quotes

The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting 'Off with his head!' or 'Off with her head!' about once in a minute.

Related Characters: The Queen of Hearts
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

The Queen of Hearts enters this fury during a game of croquet, in which the flamingos and hedgehogs function as mallets and balls and which Alice is expected to pick up without having been informed of any rules.

Much like the “Caucus-Race” of Chapter 3, the game entirely lacks order—with the merit of the players dependent on changing rules that are ultimately assured only by the autocratic Queen. Yet if the caucus race offered a lighthearted critique of politics with prizes for all, this scene is a cruel counterpoint, in which no player can correctly follow the shifting rules and thus all can easily lose the right to their heads. “Off with her head” is likely an allusion to Shakespeare’s Richard III (a play about a famously murderous king), which Carroll would cite explicitly in a 1889 letter.

It is notable that the symbols and roles here should all be indicators of gentility: croquet is a slow game played on stately fields, cards are a similarly calming pastime, and royalty like a Queen and a Duchess ought to be stately in their behaviors. Thus Carroll has taken the stereotypical symbols of good English society, placed them in a romantic, Oxford-esque garden, and yet he has rendered them bloodthirsty and unordered. This furthers the presentation of Wonderland as a place where Alice uncovers the scruples in adult society. Reality is not nearly as ordered as it purports to be, and Alice continues to struggle to orient and reassure herself amidst the madness.

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The Garden Symbol Timeline in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Garden appears in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 - Down the Rabbit-Hole
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
...perfectly. Alice opens the door and kneels down and peers through it to a beautiful garden. But the doorway seems to be for a small animal, not a girl. It's too... (full context)
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
...snuffing out entirely like a flame. She goes back to the door to the beautiful garden. She realizes she has forgotten the key, so she goes back to the table but,... (full context)
Chapter 4 - The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
...something to make her a little larger so that she can finally get into the garden. (full context)
Chapter 5 - Advice from a Caterpillar
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
The Nature of Being and Not Being Theme Icon
...bit, she transforms herself into her old size and now sets out to find the garden as she’d planned. She comes to a tiny house instead and thinks she’ll go in,... (full context)
Chapter 7 - A Mad Tea-Party
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
...tiny door, and this time, she has all she needs to get into the beautiful garden. (full context)
Chapter 8 - The Queen's Croquet-Ground
Childhood and Adulthood Theme Icon
Dreams and Reality Theme Icon
The Nature of Being and Not Being Theme Icon
Alice enters the beautiful garden and sees a rose tree, full of white roses, and a busy group of gardeners,... (full context)