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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass


by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. When is nonsense more than just nonsense? Are the Alice books simply charming fantasy stories, fun to read without any deeper meaning? Or do they have satirical elements, important symbolism, and other more significant literary aspects?
  2. Why do you think so much of the humor in the Alice books is based on language – puns, misunderstandings, and double meanings? What's so funny about words?
  3. Does Alice change or develop in any way over the course of her adventures? If so, how?
  4. Why do you think Lewis Carroll chose to structure the Alice books around games like cards and chess? What other games would make good frameworks for fantasy stories?
  5. How does Looking-Glass World compare and contrast with Wonderland? Do you think the two worlds are both extensions of the same fantasy world, or are they significantly different? Why or why not?
  6. In many of the chapters of the Alice books, one of the characters recites – or mis-recites – a poem. How does the introduction of verse into the story change the way that you read it? Do the poems make the books funnier, stranger, or more appealing in some way? What do the books suggest that Lewis Carroll thought about the practice (common at the time) of making children memorize and recite poetry?
  7. The Dodo in Wonderland and the White Knight in Looking-Glass are characters that Lewis Carroll intended as self-parodies or self-depictions. What do the Dodo and the White Knight have in common? How do they each relate to Alice? What about them might seem to connect to Carroll himself?
  8. How do the Alice books compare and contrast with classic coming-of-age tales you may have read, such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, or To Kill a Mockingbird? What about other coming-of-age children's fantasies, such as the Harry Potter books?
  9. People like to call the Alice books "timeless classics" that can be read by all ages. Is there anything about them that doesn't seem timeless – anything you had trouble understanding, or that seems like it might be a Victorian custom or practice without a modern counterpart? Make a list of the terms, activities, or jokes that seem to depend on things you don't know about. Then choose two or three that seem most interesting and research them on the internet or in your local library. How does this new knowledge change your understanding of the books?

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