Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Education Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"I've been to a day-school, too," said Alice. "You needn't be so proud as all that."
"With extras?" asked the Mock Turtle, a little anxiously.
"Yes," said Alice: "we learned French and music."
"And washing?" said the Mock Turtle.
"Certainly not!" said Alice indignantly.
"Ah! Then yours wasn't a really good school," said the Mock Turtle in a tone of great relief. "Now, at ours, they had, at the end of the bill, 'French, music, and washing – extra.'" (Wonderland 9.64-69)
As the annotations to any good edition of the book will tell you, the Mock Turtle is confusing the fees for extra subjects at boarding school with the fee they charge for doing your laundry. His rationale seems to be that anything you pay for makes you more educated. But we know that (unfortunately) it takes more than buying a lesson to really learn it.
"Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with," the Mock Turtle replied; "and then the different branches of Arithmetic – Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision." (Wonderland 9.73)
As we're sure you've guessed, these are parodies of the subjects you learned in school: reading, writing, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Yet all the things listed in the parody are things we learn in school too – competing for grades teaches us ambition, there are plenty of things to distract us as we study, we learn to mock and deride one another, and so on.
"What else had you to learn?"
"Well, there was Mystery," the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers – "Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling – the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils." (Wonderland 9.78-79)
OK, "Mystery" is history, "Seaography" is geography, "Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils" are drawing, sketching, and painting in oils. Of all these, we're most amused by "Mystery," since so many of the things that have happened over the course of human history are bizarre, ridiculous, or inexplicable.