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Alice In Wonderland By Lewis Carroll As A Crooked Mirror Of Victorian Society

The language of “Alice in Wonderland” by L. Carroll is known to be English. The content of this work, accordingly, depicts the culture, which was inherited by England at the time when Carroll lived.

The works of such researchers as Bjork K., Borysenko A., Wolf F., Danilov Y., Urnov D., Chesterton G. and others were devoted to studying the underlying content of “Alice in Wonderland”.

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The study’s relevance is because the fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland” is in the field of view of researchers, from the time of its first publication to the present day. The systematization and analysis of the research devoted to it will make it possible to form a holistic picture of how this work reflects the features of Victorian society.

Purpose: to analyze the work “Alice in Wonderland” in the context of its reflection of the peculiarities of Victorian society.


  1. Describe the peculiarities of the Victorian era, identify its chronological framework and general peculiarities;
  2. Analyze the portrayal of Lewis Carroll’s life story in his works
  3. Analyze the history of writing Alice in Wonderland
  4. Examine the interpretation of the work in the historical viewpoint and the current stage of literary development;
  5. Examine the demonstration of Victorian society’s orders, customs, and peculiarities through the prism of the images of the characters in work.

Language, as we know, is a distinctive mirror of culture. It reflects not only the natural world and the place of people in it, the conditions of their real life. It also symbolizes the public awareness of his belonging to a certain people, the presence in itself a specific mentality, national rice, features of lifestyle, adherence to traditions and customs, a certain model of morality and value system, perception of the world.

Language is the most important means of communication. With the help of the language of artistic literature is the complete representation of the culture of the people who created it.

The period of L. Carroll’s life and work in the Victorian epoch. The total duration of his life was sixty-nine years. Thus, the beginning of this era was laid by the coronation of Queen Victoria, which occurred in 1837, and this era ended after the queen’s death, which fell in 1901.

Speaking about the conditions of Victorine’s accession to the throne, it is worth pointing out that due to the death of King William IV of England, the male line of the Hanoverian dynasty was interrupted. As a result, the throne of Britain was taken by the king’s 18-year-old niece, Victoria. She was the ancestor of the House of Windsor, the dynasty that still reigns today.

Throughout this queen’s reign, which lasted 64 years, called the so-called Victorian era, England was powerfully extraordinary growth, hunting both political, economic, and cultural aspects.

During the Victorian epoch, the country was able to reach exceptionally high peaks in the industrial spheres, in the sphere of trade, finance, and maritime transport. As a result, the greatest colonial empire was established.

Most of the scholars support the position that during the time of Queen Victoria’s presidency England was transformed into “the industrial masterpiece of the world”.

The word “Victorian era” entered the context of culture, both British and global, as the period of the highest cultural and literary development.

The Victorian epoch is divided into three periods:

  1. Early Victorian;
  2. Middle Victorian;
  3. Late Victorian.

According to her contemporaries, during the Early Victorian period, which lasted from 1837 to 1861, Victorious was young, shabby, and quite private.

However, the death of Prince Consort Albert in 1861 led to the immersion of both the queen and the whole court in deep and long mourning. Victoria no longer took off her black color until the end of her life.

At the same time, the greatness of Britain reached its peak. The role of the middle class in public life was greatly enhanced. As a result, there was a significant rise in the self-awareness of dissidents. The latter, constantly reproached in the “trade traditions”, created their own specific tradition and counterculture, the opposite of aristocratic culture. As a result, there was a reduction in absolute Puritan values. Yes, even the legs of the furniture are considered inappropriately erotic. Due to this, there is a drape of heavy fabric tables and chairs.

Although the queen’s mourning did not end, the mourning of society, of course, logically ended. In the last years of the Middle Victorian period, which occurred in 1861-1885, archaeologists aroused interest in the pre-ancient and early antique civilizations of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

By the time the Late Victorian period, 1885-1901, came, English and European aesthetics, in general, were remarkably eclectic. Thus, the last period of the Victorian era was called “aesthetic”. Nevertheless, the concentration on the mind, which was inherent in the public, allowed writers to play an important role in socio-political life.

In particular, Lewis Carroll and his works, “Alice in Wonderland,” was not understood and accepted by everyone.

The British understand the oddities: yes, in the homeland, Carroll has his individual cultural niche. She is called an “eccentric gentleman scientist”. However, it is only one of many masks.

XIX century is characterized by the creation of his myth of Carroll. It included everything that was valued and respected in Victorian England, namely kindness and a tendency to eccentricity, deep religiosity and a strange sense of humour, a strict and steady rhythm of life, which is occasionally interrupted only by short “intellectual vacations” during which and a fairy tale about Alice and some other works was written.

Lewis Carroll made a mocking depiction of late Victorian England in his writings on Alice. However, the writer portrayed the world in the general universe, not just that small piece called England. This is indirectly reflected in other books by him.

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Literature flourished during the Victorian era. The most significant genre of this era is considered to be a realistic novel. This genre is one of the most characteristic elements of the literary biography of English writers, whose work dates back to the XVIII century. The most famous are the representatives of the English realistic novel of the XIX century – Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte.

A new generation of English novelists continued their work. They carried out theoretical comprehension and psychological deepening of the new artistic style. Among these novelists are the following names: E. Trolllop and M. E. Evans (pseudonym – George Eliot), as well as D. Meredith and T. Hardy.

Along with the realistic novel, which became extremely popular during the Victorian era, works of a completely different, unrealistic direction were also in demand among readers. These were Gothic psychological prose written by Emily Bronte, a sensational novel by W. Collins, which combined interest in human psychology and the environment with the detective genre and the so-called “horror literature”, examples of such works are “Woman in White” and “Moonlight”. Stone”. Nonsense was also popular, which became a vivid example of intellectual and parody literature, including “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, there were strict and even severe rules and rules of conduct, the observance of which was mandatory not only for adults but also for children. This fact could not but interfere with personal space. But children, under any circumstances, desire to play, have fun, running and milling. And if it was not possible in real life, the space of imagination did not impose any restrictions.

Thinking about the plight of children who lived in the modern period for the writer and their possible future, Lewis Carroll wrote in his book “Alice in Wonderland”. In this work, the author describes the freedom of everyone. In particular, he defends the freedom of thought, imagination, and creativity, which are fundamental to human progress.

Lewis Carroll’s family had 11 children, seven girls and four boys. Lewis was the oldest of them. The family’s father was a graduate of Oxford University, and he was very fond of mathematics. He was the one who saw that the eldest son had remarkable mathematical skills and created all the necessary conditions for his studies.

Lewis Carroll was also extremely interested in learning the language. In his opinion, every phenomenon also has its own logic, just as in mathematics. He was the author of several word games and puzzles. Mathematics combined with language gave Carroll the space he needed to think, and they were the factors that drove him to literary activity. Apart from these two sciences, Lewis Carroll’s interest was sparked by drawing and photography. He left a unique light on his contemporaries.

Such a date as June 4, 1862, is significant for the history of literary tales. On that very day, Dr Charles Loutwige Dodgson, professor of mathematics at one of Oxford’s colleges, and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth took the rector’s three daughters-in-law, Liddell, for a stroll along the Thames River. The oldest sister, Lorraine Charlotte, was thirty-five at the time, the middle one, Alice, was ten, and the youngest, named Edith, was eight. The girls asked Dodgson to tell them a funny story. Alice thus interceded so that it was as much as possible the various fools and guesswork.

That’s how it was laid the beginning of a fascinating history, which in the role of the prototype of the protagonist acted, without knowing it himself, Alice Liddell. The writer’s notes, published a little later, say: “I remember well how, in my desire to guess something new, I sent my heroine into the ground, or rather, into the rabbit hole. I absolutely did not think about what would happen to her in the future. The girls were very supportive of the cartoon.

First of all, because it was not only about the wondrous guests but also them, besides Alice, Dodgson’s story featured Papuzka Lori. She said, “I am older than you, and I know better. Worth pointing out that Lorina Liddell was extremely proud that she is already 13 years old. She always tried to teach the young girls. The image of Orlyatka is a distinctive feature of eight-year-old Edythe.

Robinson Duckworth, who is also included in the work’s protagonists, was nicknamed Kachur while still at university. The mouse, which arouses great respect in everyone’s work, contains the features of a girl governess named Miss Prickett. Dean is an image of the Liddell cat. Dodo is, in fact, Dr Dodgson himself. He often began to stutter in excitement. Introducing himself to new acquaintances, he often referred to his name as “Do-Do-Dodgson.”

The Thames carried its waves slowly. And from Dr Dodgson’s mouth, a wonderful tale flowed softly, which imperceptibly moved the girls into a strange world. When the walk was over, Alice asked her older friend to write down the story she told. Soon he did. On the last page, a photo of Alice he had pasted was pasted, and the notebook was given to the girls.

Henry Kingsley once visited Rector Liddell. He was the brother of the then famous writer Charles Kingsley. Inadvertently noticing the manuscript and reviewing it, Henry Kingsley and Rector Liddell began to persuade Dodgson to publish the book.

On July 4, 1865, exactly three years after a picnic on the waters of the Thames, Dodgson presented the first author’s copy of the book to Liddell. Initially, he planned the title of the work “The Adventures of Alice in the Underworld.” However, she was later changed to “Alice in Wonderland”. This work was published under the fictional name of Lewis Carroll.

Lewis Carroll was originally going to illustrate the book on his own. However, his painting technique required improvement, so the publisher advised the author to turn to John Tenniel. The latter was very fascinated by the works, and he agreed to make 42 illustrations for him, as the author insisted. Carroll’s main requirement was that the illustrations correspond to the author’s vision. Tenniel initially agreed but later managed to convince the writer of a different concept for the book’s design, which he authored himself.

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For example, Alice, who is Carroll’s work, was similar to the real Alice Liddell, a girl with cut dark hair, in Tenniel’s illustrations was the opposite – a girl with long and blond hair. Tenniel also worked in the British press, so he was well acquainted with the peculiarities of public life in England, politicians and historians. The British recognized some of them in individual images depicted by the artist. However, the text of the tale itself contains many hints of real life.

Sketches of illustrations by Tenniel were created on paper and then transferred to wooden boards. From them were cut special forms that were used to print engravings, which is a form of graphic art, which involves the creation of replicated images by contrast printing from embossed surfaces or through a stencil.

The quality of the illustrations, which appeared in the first edition in 1865, did not satisfy either Tenniel or Lewis Carroll. As a result, almost all copies, except for the author’s copies, were destroyed. The next edition, published in 1866, went on sale. It made both the writer and the artist famous.

Literary critics and scholars have developed several theories about the hidden content of Lewis Carroll’s well-known tale. Some have suggested that the work is about sex, drugs and colonialism. Others said that this tale is a story about eating disorders. Others believed that it was about the War of the Roses.

The phrase “disappear in a rabbit hole” in English figuratively means “to fall into the unknown, to get lost.”

This fantastic work by Lewis Carroll, which tells about magic pies and hidden doors, a cat smile and turtle trills, has always been at the peak of popularity since the very first edition.

It became the basis for the creation of many films, paintings, ballet productions, and even computer games throughout its existence. Even in medicine, it affected. Yes, her name was given to one of the neurological syndromes.

A huge number of theories and assumptions were raised by the question of what Lewis Carroll actually meant in his work. Many works by a generation of literary critics, researchers, scholars and even bloggers are devoted to this issue. This supposedly innocent children’s tale is seen as an allegory of drug culture, a description of the history of British colonization, even as a running mental case of a girl with envy of the penis.

There is no real evidence that Dodgson’s relationship with the girl who was the prototype of the literary heroine was something to be condemned. However, it is quite difficult not to suspect an adult man who liked to spend a lot of time with his young friends. He put them on his knees, posed with them for photos, often being not very dressed.

Now that the theory of psychoanalysis has become available to society and freed from the Victorian-era clergy, Alice in Wonderland is no longer seen as such an innocent work.

In a detailed analysis of the text, the researchers found a large number of images that have to do with female and male physiology and sexual relations. What is worth only a rabbit hole and a curtain that Alice had to remove? The locks and keys present in work are an indisputable allusion to coitus, and the caterpillar can be interpreted as a phallic symbol.

In a scene in which Alice’s neck is suddenly stretched, many researchers see a hint of an erection and envy of the penis, which Freud believes appear in young girls when they become aware of gender differences in anatomical structure. When describing Alice’s movements, during which she waves a fan, and soon decreases rapidly, which leads to the fact that she falls into the saltwater up to her chin, some see associations with the process of masturbation.

Other researchers believe that the adventures that took place with Alice contain a story not so much about the sex as about the process of growing up a girl, her transformation from a child to a teenager. The heroine of the work becomes quite uncomfortable in her own body due to several different transformations.

The girl’s self-awareness loses stability. She tries to resist the authorities, and it requires a lot of effort from her to understand the rules that govern the people around her and death.

It is challenging not to think about what the author of the children’s fairy tale meant when he portrayed a goose smoking a hookah surrounded by magical mushrooms. Long drug trip, which is called changes in consciousness caused by drug use.
Dodgson’s favourite writer was Thomas de Quincy, who wrote The Confessions of an Opium Englishman. However, there is no evidence that the author of “Alice« “used hallucinogenic drugs.

However, it would be quite primitive to say that “Alice” “is a work that is only about sex and drugs. Another group of literary critics considers the tale in the context of political satire. As Alice enters the burrow after the White Rabbit, she is transported to a place that, although chaotic and bizarre, is ruled by an authoritarian and cruel queen. It also has a chaotic legal system that allows it to be associated with Victorian law in England.

Contemporaries believe that Dodgson’s attitude to Queen Victoria was very ambiguous, even though she was one of the fans of his work.

Destroyed by life in a strange country, Alice tries to impose her own values ​​on the natives. Sometimes this leads to quite negative consequences. Such events evoke associations with British colonial policy.

Many questions are raised by the images of Walrus and Tesla and the twins of Tweeddam and Tweed, who told Alice the poem. According to certain explanations, the Carpenter represents Jesus, and through the image of the Walrus, the Apostle Peter is depicted, and the oysters are the personification of their disciples. Other researchers suggest the British Empire, where the walrus and carpenter are figurative images of England and oysters – the colonies. Even the famous British writer J.B. Priestley took part in the discussion and suggested that Walrus and Tesla could act as prototypes of politicians of two different types.

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All the above-mentioned interpretations of the alleged true meaning of “Alice”, which were invented continuously, in reality, show how a change in public morals and values ​​radically changes the understanding of the text. They are also a kind of proof that this work by Lewis Carroll is immortal and that each era sees in it its own problems and issues that are most relevant to it.

Charles Dodgson, as we know, was a mathematician. Therefore, no one is surprised that his story includes many arithmetic and geometric elements. However, even though Dodgson was a logician, Wonderland is ruled by the absurd. Perhaps this is the main idea in this story. The world is portrayed as a crazy place where people’s hopes and expectations often do not come true, so it is more logical not to try to find its meaning but enjoy the process of travel.

The tale also contains many allusions to household trifles, typical of “Victorian” England. For example, in its account of the additional lessons in “French, music, and laundry,” False Turtle actually implies that in English schools that belonged to private schools, attendance at additional classes and housekeeping provided for a separate fee. Therefore, the end of the bill usually contained a note: “For the French language, music and laundry – in addition.”

Oxford University came up with the idea of ​​”fake turtle soup”. This was the name of a cheap dish intended for poor professors and students.

The nonsense poems that Alice tells or hears are parodies of textbook poems. For example, the poem about the “baby crocodile” is a humorous adaptation of the work of the poet Isaac Watts, which was written in the XVIII century. This poem was included in all school textbooks. Another famous work of the same poet is a poem called “Do you hear the lazy voice?”, in which Alice’s tale became a bizarre story about “Omar’s voice”. The bizarre “Dad William” is actually a parody of a long instructive poem by Robert Southey about how you can stay healthy for a hundred years. The song about the “bat”, sung at the concert by the Hatter, is a hint of the famous romance “Little Star”, composed in the words of Jane Taylor. “Song of the Cod”, to the sound of which the Griffin and the False Turtle dance Rachach Quadrille, is a parody of Mary Hound’s children’s poem “Spider and Fly”.

There are two prototypes in the song of the False Turtle, which tells about the “evening soup”. The first is a famous poem by Thomas Moore, “Evening Bell”, the second – the romance “Evening Dawn”, composed in the words of James Sales. Even the Duchess’s lullaby, sung to a piglet, is a parody of the somewhat forgotten American poet David Bates.

As you know, the Victorian era was a period of prosperity of secular society and lavish balls. It is possible that L. Carroll was quite closed, so he tried to avoid secular society because he, as a scientist, was an unpleasant atmosphere of lies and fictional meaning of light with its inherent numerous fictions.

From all this, we can conclude that the work of L. Carroll “Alice in Wonderland” has been commented on since its first publication, is commented to this day and will be commented on for a very, very long time.

Researcher Martin Gardner in his Annotated Alice, admits that he sought to avoid two types of commentary, given allegorical and psychoanalytic interpretations. He does this not because such comments are difficult or unworthy of attention, but because, thanks to the ease of their creation, any reader with ingenuity can write them himself.

Certain interpretations of the work can only provoke laughter. For example, in his article “Lewis Carroll and the Oxford Movement”, Shan Leslie sees in “Alice” the encrypted religious struggle of Victorian England. A jar of orange jam, according to his interpretation, symbolizes Protestantism. According to the author’s concept, the orange colour of oranges reflects the connection with William of Orange and the Orange. The duel of the White and Black Knights is seen as a symbolic depiction of the famous confrontation of Thomas Huxley with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. And these are just some of the points that have a rather bizarre interpretation of this author.

Such a large number of assumptions is because “Alice in Wonderland” is a strange and mysterious work that makes you think about its content and the subtext that reflects the culture typical of England in Carroll’s time.

Thus, the phrase “Victorian era” entered the context of culture, both British and global, as a period of the highest cultural and literary development.

Lewis Carroll made a mocking depiction of late Victorian England in his writings on Alice.

On July 4, 1865, exactly three years after a picnic on the waters of the Thames, Dodgson presented the first author’s copy of the book to Liddell. Initially, he planned the title of the work “The Adventures of Alice in the Underworld.” However, she was later changed to “Alice in Wonderland”. This work was published under the fictional name of Lewis Carroll.

Literary critics and scholars have developed several theories about the hidden content of Lewis Carroll’s well-known tale.

All the above-mentioned interpretations of the alleged true meaning of “Alice”, which have been invented continuously, in reality, show how a change in public morals and values radically changes the understanding of the text as well.

Lewis Carroll painted a mocking image of late Victorian England in his writings on Alice.

The tale also contains many allusions to household trifles, typical of “Victorian” England.

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