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Parodies Of Victorian Lifestyle Essay

2074 words - 8 pages

Parodies of Victorian Lifestyle in Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found

     "It is no accident that the grotesque style in literature tends to be prevalent in eras marked by radical change and stress.  Such was the Victorian period, within which a whirl of social, economic, and religious change took place . . ." (Chang par. 2). This distorted writing can be unquestionably seen in the works of Lewis Carroll, namely his world famous pieces, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (commonly known as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass").  In several instances throughout the Alice books, Carroll mocks Victorian lifestyle.  These parodies can be seen in Victorian growth and self-discovery, inventions, education, nutrition and drugs, and social classes.


The Victorian times were that of self-discovery and seeking order in the universe, so naturally it makes sense when Alice is not really sure of who she is.  The Caterpillar cannot accept Alice's lack of self-awareness when she states that she is unsure of whom she is.


"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.  This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.  Alice replied, rather shyly, "I -- I hardly know, Sir, just at present -- at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."  "What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar, sternly.  "Explain yourself!"  "I ca'n't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir," said Alice, "because I'm not myself you see" (Alice in Wonderland ch. 5).


Alice concurs with several different characters in her two trips to wonderland.  "As Alice learns a great deal about herself with each new encounter in Wonderland, she begins to realize that these experiences weaken and even distort her previously stable self-image.  Accepted norms now seem foreign to Alice, and in many ways she becomes an outcast" (Polisner par. 3).  Carroll is mocking the Victorians because with every new thing that Alice learns, they seem to cancel out her past lessons.


Since Victorians were so concerned with learning more about themselves and the world around them, they came to be great inventors; they were the first to invent to create solutions to problems and better themselves.  Alice realizes the fruitlessness of the White Knight's inventions upon discovering the mousetrap on his horse's back.  In response to this, she remarks, " 'it isn't very likely there would be any mice on a horse's back'  'Not very likely, perhaps,' said the Knight; 'but if they do come, I don't choose to have them running all about' " (Through the Looking Glass ch. 8).  Instead of making like simpler, the solutions to the Knight's problems create more problems.  " 'I see you're admiring my little box,' the Knight said in a friendly tone.  'It's my own invention - to keep clothes and sandwiches in.  You see I carry...

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