In Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, we can see the Alice’s transition from childhood to adulthood through the means of magic in Wonderland. Alice is continuously challenged to search for her identity by every character she encounters. Her journey through the magical world of Wonderland serves as a setting of the adult world which Alice will face in her life beyond childhood. She is forced to look at the world for what it is really is and move past her childhood notions.
For example, Alice asks herself “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” (Carroll 16) She is in a magical realm created by her in which she is continuously perplexed about her identity. Here, she is questioning herself whether she can consider herself as the same person after going through physical changes in size. She is always going to through changes, whether is it is growing up or shrinking in size. These changes signify the changes a child goes through puberty.
These physical conversions can be both frightening and terrifying as she has no control over these conversions. Similarly, when Alice grows again in the White Rabbit’s house she says to herself: “It was much pleasanter at home,’ thought poor Alice, ‘when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole–and yet–and yet–it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!” (Carroll 30).
Alice feels extremely frustrated about her situation in wonderland. She is not used to being ordered around by rabbits and mice, which turns the structure of authority from humans to animals. Here, Carrol is trying to teach the readers how to deal with adversity in the adult life. Alice’s curiosity, here, refers to curiosity of a child about being an adult and having more responsibilities. Alice is facing the uncertainty of the adulthood and swift changes in identity which are interconnected to her life beyond the phase of childhood. Likewise, Alice’s anxiety about her identity is prompted by the Caterpillar in the following conversation: “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.” (Carroll 37). It is evident from this conversation that Alice, again, is very perplexed about her identity. She tries to reason with herself through logical and illogical assertions that she knew who she was in the past but she doesn’t anymore as she is being continuously challenged in journey in wonderland.
She understands that she is not the same person as she was in past but, however is struggling to pinpoint the instances of growth and development. She even asks the Caterpillar if he felt anxious or scared of the fact that one day it will turn into a butterfly, which tells us that is that she frightened and confused about her transition from childhood to adulthood. Another example of Alice’s process of maturity and emotional growth can be seen by the following conversation she has with the Cheshire Cat: “Oh, you can’t help that, said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’ ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.” (Carroll 53). The Cheshire Cat comes to conclusion that Alice is mad since all the habitants of Wonderland are mad and Alice is currently in Wonderland. Once again, Alice’s recalls her failed attempts to find her identity. However, the Cheshire Cat places an emphasis on the environment and setting that Alice is in.
Carroll is telling us that your identity is defined by what and who surrounds you, it is not something that a someone can find internally. Subsequently When the Cat says that everyone is mad in wonderland, she refers to the insanity and madness of the adult world which Alice is facing and will have to face in the future. Alice might expect the adult world to be based on fixed rules and to be well-organized but in reality it is full of chaos and highly unbalanced.
In the end, when the Queen ask Alice head to be cut off, Alice replies “Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!” (Carroll 103), this marks the completion of Alice’s maturity and her transition from childhood to adulthood.
She grows larger as the as the court proceeds, not by eating or drinking anything but because of her own confidence and maturity. Alice’s confidence leads to the defiance of the Queen whereas in the past she would take these issues with a lot of thought. As the cards where flying towards her, she wakes up from her dream which shows that her transition from childhood to adulthood has an come to an end and now, she is free to leave Wonderland after reaching the point of maturity. Carroll indicates that Alice’s dream served as a process of maturation and personal development via the magical world of Wonderland.
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