Identity Conflict in Alice in Wonderland

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, enjoys an unrivalled amount of popularity among readers across the world. It is the story of a young girl who falls down into in a fantastical world where madness is the rule and not an exception. It is a world in which nonsense is ripe: rabbits can talk, cats can easily vanish and drowning in one’s own tears is a possibility. However, at the end of the book, readers, who are starved for normalcy, are glad to understand that Wonderland is not a reality but just a figment of Alice’s imagination running wild during a dream. Lewis Carroll wrote in his diary on 9 February 1856: When we are dreaming, and as often happens, have a dim consciousness of the fact and try to wake, do we not say things which in waking life would be insane? May we not then sometimes define insanity as an inability to distinguish which is waking and which is the sleeping life? We often dream without the least suspicion on unreality: ‘Sleep hath its own world,’ and it is often as lifelike the other. It is through the lens of a dream world—a place where anything is possible— that Lewis Carroll showcases Alice’s conflict, both internal and external. Alice’s struggle with her identity in Wonderland parallels the struggle that children face when they reach adolescence. During their formative years, children not only strive to discern who they actually are, they are also mistaken to be someone else by a presumptuous society and often fail to explain themselves to others. But it is only when they develop the necessary faculties to gauge the characters of others do adolescents realize their full potential.

When Alice falls down the rabbit hole, she finds herself on an unfamiliar territory all alone. After drinking the liquid out of a little bottle, she grows increasingly large, “opening out like the largest telescope that ever was” (16). Once the female protagonist “grows up,” a term that Carroll uses quite literally, she acknowledges “how...
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