Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Lewis Carroll

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Alice in Wonderland can help.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Situational Irony 1 key example

Chapter 8 - The Queen's Croquet-Ground
Explanation and Analysis—Off With His Head!:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland contains a number of ironic moments. In Chapter 8, to get rid of the Cheshire cat, the Queen declares "Off with his head!" but the executioner insists that this is impossible:

The executioner’s argument was, that you couldn’t cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn’t going to begin at his time of life.

This moment is ironic because the Queen wants to behead the Cheshire cat, but he is already just a head and therefore cannot be beheaded. She continues to insist on this punishment despite the executioner's protests. 

Another example of irony is the fact that The White Queen is "dreadfully untidy" despite having all the resources in Wonderland. This seems strange because Queens usually have luxurious clothing and make their appearances impeccable. However, in Wonderland, nothing is as it seems. Situational irony in particular supports the many nonsensical scenes throughout the story.  The most common function of irony in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is to show how ridiculous Wonderland is and the way in which the characters' words and their external reality do not match.