Alice in Wonderland is a dream world, full of curiousness, confusion and talking animals. Everything is a little off. This can be delightful and fund, but it can also create a menacing atmosphere that threatens to turn the story from a child’s story of adventure and nonsense to something more like a nightmare, though it never quite does tip into true nightmare.
What is perhaps even more interesting, though, is the way that the ridiculous dream world of Wonderland comments or parodies the real world. Wonderland is full of misunderstanding, of meaninglessness, of pointless races, pompous characters, maudlin stories or reminiscences without purpose, and is further full of commands from leaders that make absolutely no sense and are based on pure vanity and cluelessness. Its residents mainly just want to get by and survive and maybe have a good time. Its justice is often laughably faulty. In other words, as a child growing up might realize as the curtains on the adult and "real" world fall away, Wonderland isn't actually so different from that real world. The real world may be less exaggerated in its arbitrary rules and adult nonsense, crookedness, cowardice, and venality, but it has such traits in equal measure, and in many ways the cruelty of the real world is greater. Wonderland, then, because it is a ridiculous dream, becomes a lace where Alice can begin to navigate the real world without, yet, having to actually face that real world.
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Dreams and Reality Quotes in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
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.
“It was much pleasanter at home,' thought poor Alice, 'when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole--and yet--and yet--it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life!”
She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar, that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.
'Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
'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.'
'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'
'Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, 'It WAS a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.'