Throughout Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice interacts with creatures and objects that normally inhabit her Victorian world. The natives of Wonderland , who who all have distinct personalities and the capacity to speak, dictate Alice's behavior. In this final scene, however, Alice turns the table on the bossy inhabitants of Wonderland. Rather than continuing to accept their behavior, she recognizes that they do not behave as they should in Victorian society. Upon exclaiming to the army of cards that they are, indeed, "nothing but a pack of cards," Alice immediately wakes up to find that she has returned from Wonderland. Once she treats the cards as she should in her own society, simply as objects, then Alice is allowed to return to it . She has learned the lesson that a girl in Victorian England must control the objects around her, rather than be controlled by them.

Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

"Who cares for you ?" said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). "You're nothing but a pack of cards!"

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her; she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank with her head in the lap of her sister....

"Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" said Alice. (Norton Critical Edition, 97)

This code of behavior that Alice learns at the end of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, parallels that of the Victorian gentleman. (This code is also apparent in the final scene of Through the Looking Glass, when Alice wakes up from her dream upon controlling the chaos that erupts at her banquet). In other words, the concept of the gentleman in Victorian England had a female counterpart whose behavior Carroll defines in the Alice books.

According to David Cody, the definition of the Victorian gentleman encompassed social class status and moral code, and he meets Ruskin's definition of a gentleman as a man with the following characteristics: "perfectly bred. After that, gentleness and sympathy, or kind disposition and fine imagination." In addition, the definition of a gentleman eventually evolved to reflect a certain type of education.

The code of behavior that Alice exemplifies at the conclusions of Through the Looking Glassand Alice's Adventures in Wonderland differs from that for a Victorian gentleman. Altrhough an education was emphasized for Victorian men, Carroll did not do the same in his creation of Alice and her experiences. Despite the fact that she is clearly educated — at least for a seven-year old --Alice consistently reBs her lessons incorrectly, often aware that something is not quite right about them. Alice's mistakes frequently go unnoticed by those around her and are always left uncorrected. Rather than emphasizing her studies, and having the event that enables Alice's return to England involve correcting her academic errors, Carroll instead chooses an episode involving correcting her behavior. In order for her to return to England, Alice learns to control her material surroundings.

The final passage of the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland describes Alice imagined by her older sister in a vision of her as a young woman recounting "the dream of Wonderland of long ago" (99) to a gathering of wide-eyed, young listeners. The future Alice exhibits the Victorian code of behavior learned from her experiences in Wonderland. Her means for controlling the objects from her dream is to recognize them as fantasy (entertainment for children); their bizarre relationships to her are unacceptable in reality.

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Victorian Web Overview

Last modified December 1995

Last modified 8 June 2007