During her fantastic journey through the dream world of Wonderland, Alice witnesses a grand procession of the royal court. After being harshly treated by the Queen, who calls the girl an idiot, Alice answers the Queen's questions with unexpected courage, reminding herself that "they're only a pack cards, after all. I needn't be afraid of them!" (79). The Queen, upon noticing Alice's lack of respect, glares at the girl in disbelief, responding in the only way she knows: furiously screaming, "Off with her head!," to which Alice replies, "Nonsense!," in a loud and decisive tone (79). Alice makes a conscious decision to assert herself, rather than cowering away, timid and fearful. Later, during the trial of the stolen tarts, Alice chooses again to defy the Queen by questioning the Queen's claim of the Knave's guilt in saying, "It doesn't prove anything of the sort! . . . . Why, you don't even know what they're about!" (113). Finally, in the last moments of her dream, Alice disputes the Queen's idea to have the sentence first and verdict afterwards. In response to this challenge, the Queen tells Alice to hold her tongue, which the girl refuses to do. When the Queen sentences Alice to death once more, Alice, back to full size and undaunted, says, "Who cares for you?". . . . "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" (115-116). This glorious moment of defiance brings Alice's wonderful dream to a close.
1. In her first encounter with the King and Queen, Alice chooses to discard her previously timid demeanor and instead rises up in defiance. What causes this change in behavior? Why is Alice able to challenge the Queen?
2. Lewis Carroll often tells the reader directly what Alice is thinking. Why is this technique important? Would the story fall apart if he chose to leave these details out?
3. How does Alice's physical size play a part in her increasingly bold behavior? Do her various physical sizes reflect an inward change as well?
4. In each of these cited examples, Alice's comments bring the story back to reality. Why does Alice feel the need to connect back to the logical and reasonable world that she is used to? How do her comments affect the action in Wonderland?
Last modified 22 March 2004