Alice's Adventures in Darwinism and the Realm of Child Versus Adult

Topics: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Evolution Pages: 10 (3911 words) Published: May 31, 2005
Alice in Wonderland, the most famous work of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, is the enduring tale of one girl's journey into a world of whimsy and imagination. The story was written for the enjoyment of all children, as Carroll had a strong love and attachment to them, especially little girls. It was however, written more specifically for a dear, close child-friend of his by the name of Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for the title character. Alice in Wonderland has been, throughout the years since it's publication in 1865, endlessly deconstructed, analyzed, and studied for underlying meaning in the text (as in Martin Gardner‘s The Annotated Alice). One of the most noticeable and famous facets of the story is the many changes in size that Alice goes through. Alice changes size eleven times to fit her changing predicament in the tale. This can be easily seen in the animated Disney interpretation of the story that came out years ago. Throughout the book, Alice is given the opportunity to change size numerous times, this aiding

her in getting in and out of different situations and places in Wonderland. Alice accomplishes this through eating and drinking different tonics and mushroom pieces. It is interesting to note that the time period in which Carroll wrote and published Alice was the same time at which Charles Darwin was writing and publishing his historic book The Origin of Species in which he puts forth the now universally known ideas of evolution and survival of the fittest. Darwin developed these ideas while he served as naturalist on the ship the Beagle from 1831-1836. During this time, he studied wildlife on the Galapagos Islands, and was amazed by the great diversity of life. He was especially interested in the birds of the island, which had highly adapted beaks that fit their particular eating habits and lifestyle. (Coincidentally, in one of the first scenes in Wonderland, Alice arrives on shore with a group of different birds.) Carroll may have been inspired to have his title character change size according to her needs and predicament by the emerging science of the time. Alice also seems to get better at, and becomes more comfortable with changing her size as time goes on, and a parallel between evolution and Alice can be drawn on that point, in that as evolution progresses, it becomes more refined. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland  is a multi-layered story whose meaning can be determined through the simple fancy of children, or through

the worldly eyes of adults who can pick up on the many allusions and themes that children would not understand. One such theme is the many changes in size that Alice undergoes. Through these multiple changes in size in the timeless story of Alice, Lewis Carroll fuses the emerging scientific revelations of the time made by Charles Darwin with his own love of entertaining children with whimsical storytelling, giving the story appeal for both children and adults.

" ‘I am fond of children (except boys),' " Carroll once wrote, and admitted that one of his most loved hobbies was entertaining little girls. During his life, Carroll entertained many "charming" little girls, but his first love and favorite of them all was Alice Liddell. Alice was the daughter of Henry George Liddell, who was during the time of their relationship the dean of Christ Church. Little Alice Liddell captivated Carroll's attention and heart, and to entertain and please her was everything to him (Gardner xvii-xviii). He cared so much for her that the title character of Carroll's most famous work, Alice in Wonderland, was named for Miss Liddell. The Alice character is depicted as seven years old, which is the age of the real Alice when Carroll first came to know her (127). As suggested in U.C. Knoepflmacher's article "The Balancing of Child and Adult: An Approach to Victorian Fantasies for

Children", the conflict between childhood innocence and adult "experience"...
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