Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Theme of Exploration
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass record the adventures and exploits of one little girl through a variety of strange fantasylands. Exploration in these books is a playful romp through the nonsense-world of one's imagination. The world itself is explored, but so are the mind, language, and the limits of reason and knowledge. Exploration is always bittersweet, because it has definite limits and will come to an end all too soon. There need not be any particular goal to the voyage beyond seeing and experiencing curious things, but it helps to have an objective to journey toward, if only to make it easier to choose a path.
Questions About Exploration
- What do you think Alice expects to find when she jumps down the rabbit hole? What about when she walks through the looking-glass? Would you have done either of these things in her situation? Why or why not?
- What do you make of Alice's impulse to be professional about her exploration – setting a goal for herself to reach in Wonderland, and attempting a geographic "survey" of Looking-Glass World? Why do you think she approaches her adventures in this organized way?
- Do you agree with the Cheshire Cat that it doesn't matter which way you go when you're exploring, because every direction leads somewhere eventually?
- Do you think Alice explores the "real world" of Victorian England in the same way that she explores Wonderland and Looking-Glass World? How might she approach England differently, and why?
Chew on This
Alice is able to explore Wonderland and Looking-Glass World in a more ingenuous, lighthearted way than she could explore the real world, because she feels safer and has greater independence in her imagination.
Alice casts herself as a brave explorer venturing into new worlds that need to be described, cataloged, and systematized.