ENGB35 March 11, 2013
Alice in Wonderland (part 2)
Isaac Watts, ―‘Tis the Voice of the Sluggard‖ ―‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster‖
Annie and Jane Taylor, ―Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star‖ ―Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat‖
So she began again: 'Ou est ma chatte?' which was the first sentence in her French
lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all
over with fright. 'Oh, I beg your pardon!' cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the
poor animal's feelings. 'I quite forgot you didn't like cats.'
'Not like cats!' cried the Mouse, in a shrill, passionate voice. 'Would YOU like cats if you
'Well, perhaps not,' said Alice in a soothing tone: 'don't be angry about it. And yet I wish
I could show you our cat Dinah: I think you'd take a fancy to cats if you could only see
her. She is such a dear quiet thing,' Alice went on, half to herself, as she swam lazily
about in the pool, 'and she sits purring so nicely by the fire, licking her paws and
washing her face—and she is such a nice soft thing to nurse—and she's such a capital
one for catching mice—oh, I beg your pardon!' cried Alice again, for this time the Mouse
was bristling all over, and she felt certain it must be really offended. 'We won't talk about
her any more if you'd rather not.'
Identification with powerful, not weak
o Wonderland is very Darwinian – survival of fittest
'But I'm NOT a serpent, I tell you!' said Alice. 'I'm a—I'm a—'
'Well! WHAT are you?' said the Pigeon. 'I can see you're trying to invent something!'
'I—I'm a little girl,' said Alice, rather doubtfully, as she remembered the number of
changes she had gone through that day.
'A likely story indeed!' said the Pigeon in a tone of the deepest contempt. 'I've seen a
good many little girls in my time, but never ONE with such a neck as that! No, no! You're
a serpent; and there's no use denying it. I suppose you'll be telling me next that you
never tasted an egg!'
'I HAVE tasted eggs, certainly,' said Alice, who was a very truthful child; 'but little girls
eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know.' ENGB35 March 11, 2013
'I don't believe it,' said the Pigeon; 'but if they do, why then they're a kind of serpent,
that's all I can say.'
The pigeon is reasoning from past evidence – little girls do not have long necks,
serpents do… ergo, Alice is a serpent
o Empiric reasoning – evidence, logistics
The terms are set in advance – there‘s no room for modification
―Just because you look like something does not mean that you are one.‖
'but I'm not looking for eggs, as it happens; and if I was, I shouldn't want YOURS: I don't
like them raw.'
Civilized human being – she‘s not an animal
Claude Lévi-Strauss, the Raw and the Cooked – civilized vs. savage. Cooking is
what make people civilized.
Alice is non-conformist HOWEVER
Does not want to Mabel – Mabel isn‘t as clever as Alice believes herself to be.
Mabel also isn‘t as well off as Alice. This is because Alice conforms to her
lifestyle of being upper-class.
Alice is also a bossy little girl – imperialist values? British mentality of invading other
places and telling them what they‘re doing wrong – tea party.
Carroll mocks Victorian Education
The Sea School
said the Mouse with an important air, 'are you all ready? This is the driest thing I
know. Silence all round, if you please! "William the Conqueror, whose cause was
favoured by the pope,
Reeling and Writhing (Reading and Writing), Ambition, Distraction, Uglification,
and Derision (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division), Drawling, Stretching,
and Fainting in Coils (Drawing, Stretching, Painting in Oils)
But also invites child to think
o ―Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and
four times seven is—oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate!‖ ENGB35 March 11, 2013
(Apparently, Alice is starting with base 18 and with each sum moves up 3
bases… will still never make it to 20. This makes very little sense to me.)
o Can you drop a marmalade jar in a vacuum? Precursor to Einstein?
Problems of language and identity
Child‘s questions are the questions of philosophy and science
Freedom to think
o Carroll is mocking the moralistic and memory based (rote) learning, not
the children‘s want for knowledge
―Oh dear, what nonsense I‘m talking!‖
Alice realises the nonsense quickly
'You insult m