Study Guide

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

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Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are often thought of as "philosophical" fantasies. In fact, these books offer no specific coherent philosophy of life. They do, however, have a veneer of philosophy in their approach to intellectual matters. Often this philosophical attitude is depicted through characters who seem out of touch with the real world. Many of the more philosophical-sounding statements made in the books are nonsensical and seem to poke fun at readers who try to take them too seriously. The only consistent philosophy here seems to be that life is absurd and resists a moralistic interpretation.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

  1. Alice uses the word "curious" a lot to describe things she encounters in Wonderland and Looking-Glass World. What do you think she means by this term? How does "curious" come to stand in for a series of thoughts and judgments she has about the strange things around her?
  2. Is there any consistent philosophical point of view behind the narrator of the Alice books? If so, what is it? How do think this narrator sees the world – as reasonable, unreasonable, dangerous, safe, pleasant, unpleasant, meaningful, ridiculous?
  3. What is the narrator's attitude toward morality and finding morals in real-life examples?
  4. Are there times when Wonderland or Looking-Glass World seem less absurd than the real world? Describe one such moment.

Chew on This

Alice's adventures show her that life itself is absurd; all that she can do is try to find enjoyment in the things around her.

Alice has a secret craving for organization and meaning, and when the things around her are nonsensical she is irritated and frustrated.

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