Garoof Essay

1895 words - 8 pages

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a novel that is overloaded with clever instances of word- play and puns. The Mock Turtle’s Story in Chapter 9, is one of the most significant display of puns within the story. The Mock Turtle is consistently utilizing of throughout his story about his former education. The Mock Turtle tells Alice about the courses he took in school which are parodies of the real subjects taught in school. This reminds Alice of her own education, which happens to be a significant theme in the book. Alice’s Victorian upbringing contributed to her beliefs that she was properly educated, and extremely intelligent. Her conversation with the Mock Turtle causes her to become confused and forget what she has learned in school. Furthermore she sees that what she was taught in school, doesn’t have use or apply to Wonderland. Perhaps Carroll’s use of word-play deployed in this chapter was to mock some of the subjects taught in school in his time, and how they have no use in the real world.
Education is one of the major themes in Alice in Wonderland, and possibly represents Carroll’s view of the Victorian education system. Throughout the novel, Alice makes references to her previous education, and how proud she is of it. For example in chapter 1, Alice uses words like “latitude” and “longitude” yet she doesn’t even understand what they mean. This is one of the first examples in the novel of how her prior schooling is useless in Wonderland, as she lacks the knowledge of finding her way. Then in chapter 2 when Alice meets the mouse, she says “Perhaps it doesn’t understand English, I dare say it’s a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.” (19). Alice’s knowledge of history is clearly flawed, as William the Conqueror existed hundreds of years before her. Apparently, her education wasn’t as superior as she thought it had been. This is signified by the mouse replying in English, which demonstrates the inaccuracy of her knowledge. Finally in the ninth chapter, Alice encounters the Mock Turtle who really makes her question her education with his puns and parodies of the Victorian educational system.
The Mock Turtle himself represents one of Carroll’s puns, suggesting that the turtle is not supposed to be a real turtle. Also, the Mock Turtle does precisely what his name is, which is to mock people. The image within the novel portrays the Mock Turtle as a turtle with a head that appears to be some sort of a mouse. The Mock turtle also has a tail and hoofs for feet, contrary to what one would expect a turtle to look like. The turtle is sad because he used to be a real turtle, yet he doesn’t reveal what caused him to change. Alice can relate to the Mock Turtle as she herself is undergoing changes and doesn’t know what’s inflicting these changes. She doesn’t know who she is, or remember what she has learned. Perhaps the Mock Turtles’ change from a real turtle symbolizes growth from a child to an...

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