Since it was published, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has become a classic story. On one afternoon, bored listening to her sister read her a story, Alice follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole. Alice enters into a fantastical world where she embarks on various adventures and encounters eccentric characters, such as a Cheshire cat that has the ability to both talk and disappear. During her time in Wonderland, Alice's height consistently undergoes changes. In the midst of her adventures, Alice converses with a Caterpillar. At this time, Alice wishes to grow again to her normal size, for she has been very small. The Caterpillar tells Alice that "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter" (54). Because of the mushroom's roundness, Alice contemplates which side is which side. However, she at last stretches her arms around the mushroom as far as they go and breaks off a bit from each hand. Once she does this, she wonders which bit will make her grow: "'And now which is which?' she said to herself, and nibbled a little of the right-hand bit to try the effect. The next moment she felt a violent blow underneath her chin: it had struck her foot!" [54].

Questions

1. Why does Lewis Carroll choose to change Alice's size? What does this frequent change in Alice's height signify?

2. Is it important where Carroll chooses to change Alice's height?

3. How does Alice react to these changes in her height? How do other creatures and characters respond to these changes? For example, each time the White Rabbit encounters Alice, she is of various sizes. When the White Rabbit sees the large Alice in the corridor outside the small door leading to the garden, he does not notice or acknowledge Alice. When she speaks to him, he darts away. However, when the two meet again later, the White Rabbit calls Alice by the name of what she presumes to his housemaid, Mary Ann. He sends Alice to go fetch a fan and a pair of white gloves. However, while in the house, Alice grows to a gigantic size, and then soon afterwards again shrinks. Then, the White Rabbit and Alice meet each other one final time at the courthouse, where Alice again grows tall. How does Alice's change in height relate to her interactions with the White Rabbit?

4. What does it say Alice's about Alice's character that even when she is of her normal height, she still is inclined to drink out of bottles labeled "Drink Me"?

5. How does Alice's frequent height change compare to that of her less explicit height transformation in Through the Looking Glass?

6. In the other works we have thus far read, what role does height and size play compared to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll Leading Questions

Last modified 22 March 2004