Study Guide

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

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The Alice books both embrace and mock book learning. Frequently, the things children learn in the schoolroom are parodied as impractical or inapplicable to real life. Alice absorbs rote lessons but has trouble putting them in context or understanding their real-world applications. Yet the books also demonstrate respect for education and knowledge in the broader sense, and much of the humor is intellectual or dependent on a high level of educational attainment. The books also raise the question of how moral or practical lessons should (or should not) be integrated with more abstract academic knowledge.

Questions About Education

  1. How has Alice been educated so far? Has her education been a success? Why or why not?
  2. What types of things does Alice know well? What types of things is she ignorant of?
  3. Considering the way that it is depicted in the Alice books, does the author consider education a useful activity or a waste of time?
  4. Would it be possible for an uneducated reader to enjoy the Alice books? What level of education or knowledge do you think is necessary for someone to appreciate the humor of these stories?

Chew on This

Although the Alice books mock education, they also depend on the reader's knowledge to create their comedic effects.

Despite the nerdiness of many of the jokes in the Alice books, it's possible to enjoy the nonsense and silliness of the stories even if you don't understand all the nuances. The books are designed to appeal to people with a variety of backgrounds.

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