Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway. . . . (Wonderland 1.14)
The object of Alice's "quest" in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is freedom – getting out of the "small passage" that confines her and escaping into "the loveliest garden you ever saw." What the passage and the garden represent is up for debate, but it's no accident that Alice's freedom is represented by the natural world and the outdoors. Like most children, she hates being cooped up inside and longs to get out and explore.
She went on growing, and growing, and very soon had to kneel down on the floor: in another minute there was not even room for this, and she tried the effect of lying down with one elbow against the door, and the other arm curled round her head. Still she went on growing, and, as a last resource, she put one arm out of the window, and one foot up the chimney, and said to herself "Now I can do no more, whatever happens. What will become of me?"
Luckily for Alice, the little magic bottle had now had its full effect, and she grew no larger: still it was very uncomfortable, and, as there seemed to be no sort of chance of her ever getting out of the room again, no wonder she felt unhappy. (Wonderland 4.7-8)
Alice's feeling of confinement in this scene is created by her sudden growth spurt. Even though it's magically induced, we're starting to wonder whether the normal process of growing up might also make her feel trapped.
"Come, my head's free at last!" said Alice in a tone of delight, which changed into alarm in another moment, when she found that her shoulders were nowhere to be found: all she could see, when she looked down, was an immense length of neck, which seemed to rise like a stalk out of a sea of green leaves that lay far below her.
"What can all that green stuff be?" said Alice. "And where have my shoulders got to? And oh, my poor hands, how is it I can't see you?" She was moving about, as she spoke, but no result seemed to follow, except a little shaking among the distant green leaves. (Wonderland 5.46-47)
In this scene, Alice is free and confined at the same time. Her head has grown above everything in the world, even the rest of her body, giving a new meaning to the phrase "head in the clouds." But instead of making her feel free and exhilarated, she just feels out of touch with herself.