Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Lewis Carroll

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Style 1 key example

Chapter 3 - A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
Explanation and Analysis:

Carroll uses simple yet clever syntax; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a children's story that manages to convey sophisticated ideas. Most of the sentences are fairly short and understandable. Exceptions include the Dodo's manner of speaking (which is meant to ridicule the lofty diction of politicians); Carroll quickly returns to straightforward prose after a hilarious scene in Chapter 3:

“In that case,” said the Dodo solemnly, rising to its feet, “I move that the meeting adjourn, for the immediate adoption of more energetic remedies—”

Here is more complex vocabulary: "adjourn," "immediate adoption," and "energetic remedies." This language, while complex, is entirely unnecessary. The fact that the Dodo speaks these words suggests that Carroll looked down upon, and indeed deemed a dodo, anyone who used unnecessarily complicated language to describe a simple task.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland also incorporates puns, homophones, and poetic language to create a style that is as eclectic as the story's cast of characters. For example, a delightful poem appears before the first chapter to introduce the story's themes: "Anon, to sudden silence won, / In fancy they pursue / The dream-child moving through a land / Of wonders wild and new, / In friendly chat with bird or beast – / And half believe it true."

The "dream child" refers, of course, to Alice. Here is a hint, or a key, to the entire story: all of Alice's adventures are part of a crazy dream. She does not in reality fall down the rabbit hole, she merely dreams it to be so. Nonetheless, the poem's unnamed storyteller gets his listeners to half believe it true," which suggests his skill in conveying the story. In the remaining stanzas of the poem, the speaker describes how the tale of Wonderland evolved over time, which reveals its genesis and provides yet another (more subtle) frame for the story.