Alice caught the baby with some difficulty, as it was a queershaped little creature, and held out its arms and legs in all directions, "just like a star-fish," thought Alice. The poor little thing was snorting like a steam-engine when she caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself out again, so that altogether for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could do to hold it.
his description of the transforming baby in Alice in Wonderland parallels Jane's description of the baby in her dreams. Both infants symbolized Carroll's and Bronte's fixation on the need for growth and rebirth. Throughout Jane Eyre, it becomes evident that to achieve true happiness, both Jane and Rochester must grow and be reborn in the symbolic cleansing of fire. In Alice in Wonderland, Carroll portrays rebirth in the sense of Alice's transition from child to adult.
In Jane Eyre, the dream child she discusses represents the accumulation of her sinful nature. Jane explains this by relating a tale of a dream she had involving a child.
Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all the stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile looking ... I still carried the unknown little child: I might not lay it down anywhere, however tired were my arms ... I must retain it. I heard the gallop of a horse at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and you were departing for many years for a distant country. I climbed the thin wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one glimpse of you from the top: the stones rolled from under my feet, the ivy branches that I grasped gave way, the child clung round my neck in terror, and almost strangled me ... the wall crumbled ... the child fell from my knee.
Thornfield Hall and the passion and lust that it inspired create a barrier between Jane and Rochester.
The child impedes her progress, feeding off her strength and making it nearly impossible to ascend the barrier, just as Jane's emotions and Rochester's immorality keep them from ascending their barriers. When the wall crumbles, it represents the destruction of that immorality and losing the child within the boundaries of the Hall signifies Jane's complete release of her previous nature. In Alice in Wonderland, this passage that describes a baby turning into a pig symbolizes the awkward transition between childhood and adolescence. Alice's comment that "If it had grown up it would have been a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes a rather handsome pig," displays the uncertainty with which children mature and the difficulty that they face in trying to find out where they fit in --child or something else?
Content last modified December 1993