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Alice in Wonderland: Talking Animals

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begins with Alice, a young girl, sitting on a bank quite bored and sleepy. All of a sudden she sees a White Rabbit running by saying “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” The narration points out that when Alice “thought about it afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural.”

alice.jpgThe question remains, why wasn’t Alice more startled at seeing a talking animal? Furthermore, why are all the important characters in Wonderland talking animals?

If you read carefully you may have noticed that not all the animals Alice interacts with speak. On page 38, Alice who at this point is quite small, meets a puppy who in comparison seems like a giant. The puppy “barks hoarsely,” but never actually speaks to Alice. Why do you think this is the only animal character in Wonderland that does not speak? Has it wandered in from the real world? Is it because it is a puppy and not a grown dog? Does it have something to do with dogs being “man’s best friend?” What do you think?

Discuss!

Recent Comments

  1. Herb

    Rather than man’s best friend, the puppy incident ironically shows that this “make-believe” world is a “dog-eat-dog” domain.

    Alice is vulnerable and fears being devoured by the puppy and tosses a stick to the pup, hides behind a thistle and then runs away.

    Throughout the book, Alice is the one that mentions the prediliction of her pets to eat the animals she meets such as her encounter with the mouse who rightfully hates cats. So Alice’s meeting with the puppy turn the tables on this motif in this upside down world that reflects our very own world.

    If the puppy could talk, then Alice could communicate with the puppy. Rather, Alice is left to her feet to survive the encounter and is not able to “talk” her way to safety.

  2. Matt

    I was actually doing some online research on Alice a few days ago, and I came upon an interesting find.
    Supposedly, many of the characters in the book represent real-life people. For example, Bill the Lizard was (allegedly) meant to represent Benjamin Disraeli, while the Mock Turtle represented John Ruskin.
    Don’t know who the dog was meant to represent- maybe Carroll’s real-life dog–who most likely also couldn’t talk :)

  3. Justin

    maybe she wasn’t startled because she had taken a massive amount of DRUGS

  4. Julia

    what about those little “eat me” cakes that alice couldn’t reach them because she shrank. the description (and ok, subsequent movie versions) always makes my mouth water.

    perhaps you should do a blog entry on the presence of particular foods in children’s stories. i.e. turkish delight in narnia. when c.s. lewis was describing the taste and texture of turkish delight in LWW it pretty much sounded like the world’s most fantastic dessert. too bad actually trying it ruined that, but bygones.

    or perhaps i just relate everything to food? who knows.

  5. Kate

    I feel like it’s because she was dreaming…When I’m dreaming, I’m not shocked at the fact that I can jump out of a moving car into a can of tomato soup…or something like that…

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