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Victorian Era And Alice's Adventures In Wonderland By Lewis Carroll

2778 words - 11 pages

Victorian Era and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Known for its utilitarianist ideals, the education system of the Victorian Era limited the thoughts, speech, and actions of the individual; People were the product of the Victorian society in which they were raised. Many Victorian novelists highlight this mechanization of human beings, as it contributed to the identity crisis epidemic of the Victorian Era in which children were especially affected. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll uses the emphasis of facts in the Victorian education system, the likeliness of Victorian Society to discourage the use of the imagination, and the importance of ideal male and female roles of the Victorian citizen, imposed on children at a young age, to create Alice’s confused character analogous to the identity crisis of children during the Victorian era.

The Utilitarian theory of education became the standard of elite schooling, beginning with Victorian pre-elementary education. It was believed that however incapable the child was to begin with, every child, should they be drilled enough, could be molded into the ideal citizen. An illogical connection between memorization and regurgitation of information and the success of the individual in adulthood, created a schooling system of young robots, incapable of thinking and feeling for themselves. Victorian society’s emphasis of facts in its education system and the resulting identity crisis of children is seen in Lewis Carroll’s character, Alice, because of her constant repetition of facts and lessons in the place of the nonsense-like thought process of the average child. In the falling scene titled, Down the Rabbit-Hole, Alice first illustrates her eagerness to prove herself when she says,“I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time? I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the Earth. Let me see, that would be four-thousand miles down, I think--” (4). Interestingly, Alice is speaking to herself as she falls alone through the rabbit-hole. Potentially, a crisis between Alice’s two selves has been established here. Through facts, the child Alice attempts to prove to herself that she is adult-like. “...For you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over” (4-5). Although Alice constantly attempts to prove her status as an elite product of the Victorian school system, she also definitely proves to still be a child. Alice is still childlike in her lacking the ability to understand and explain the concepts that she is repeating. The passage continues as Alice further illustrates this flaw in the Victorian system by her short analysis of latitude and longitude, “--[Y]es, that’s about the right distance--but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I’ve got to?” (5). The...

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