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Free Study Guide-Alice in Wonderland-Free Online Book Notes Summary
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS

ALICE

Alice, the central character of the novel, is the person who leads the narrative and the reader through the chain of events - through the rabbit hole, wading through a pool of tears, into the house of the White Rabbit, sneezing with the Duchess and her maid, amazed at the constant play of appearance and disappearance of the Cheshire cat, and last but not the least through the vague and intriguing proceedings in the court of the King of Hearts. She is the girl who paints the fine and beautiful colors of a water color, a painting which depicts life in all its entirety.

What she finds intriguing in the wonderland is the reign of anarchy and the strong sense of class-consciousness. It is this that she is unable to come to terms with and it is this particular trait in her that draws her close to contemporary society. Alice suddenly emerges as a twentieth century child who is born in a society with different ‘classes’. She represents the consciousness of the child who has to come to terms with the lop-sided values of society and the hypocrisy of its members.

WHITE RABBIT

The White Rabbit, when first introduced, is bothered about the time his pocket watch displays. His authoritarian nature forces Alice to play-act as his servant when he orders her about. He thus represents the world of adults who are always ordering children about and who are always about keeping deadlines. Whereas in the real world the White Rabbit would be an innocent, cuddly pet, his character becomes quite menacing in Wonderland.

THE DUCHESS

The Duchess is an ugly lady who resorts to brutal means to silence her wailing baby. She is blissfully unaware of her ‘cruelty’ towards others, including her cook. She lacks motherly virtues and sings to her baby a savage lullaby. She is the one who calls her baby, " pig"( the baby later turns into a piglet).

When Alice meets her again at the croquet ground, the Duchess appears more Victorian than ever, for she is constantly moralizing. For all her indifference to others, she is fearful of the Queen, in whose presence she is distinctly uncomfortable. Apparently, the Duchess had been imprisoned earlier for having boxed the Queen’s ears. Thus, we see that the Duchess does question authority when intimidated. However, she fails to notice her own intimidation of others.

THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS

The monarchs of Wonderland form a curious couple. The Queen wields total power. Her outrageous edict, " Off with their heads!" is heard often enough in Wonderland for anything or anyone who displeases the Queen ‘deserves’ beheading. This attitude of hers reduces Wonderland to chaos, the system of justice being the most lop-sided. The King is no better as he seems to share the same attitude as evidenced in the last two chapters of the novel. Together, this couple rules Wonderland with illogical might and chaotic control.


MARCH HARE and MAD HATTER

Both are utterly mad characters. Mad Hatter has had a disagreement with Time (personified in Wonderland) and so their tea party continues endlessly, for the time there always reads six o’ clock. These two figures are also pastmasters in punning and their conversation is replete with witty coinages. The Mad Tea Party ends with the Dormouse being drowned by March Hare and Mad Hatter. This could imply death or retirement.

THE CATERPILLAR

Alice finds him on a mushroom. He is a character who smokes a water pipe. He is very ill-mannered towards Alice. Through verbal pirouetting he insults Alice. His most important contribution to Alice is that he educates her on the growth- altering mushroom.

CHESHIRE CAT

As is only to be expected, he appears in the kitchen first. He is always smiling. Alice finds the cat on a tree-climb after it leaves the house of the D2uchess. Alice makes repeated attempts to involve him in a serious conversation but he replies only in nonsense questions and answers. He comes and goes at will - appearing at times only with his head, or then his enigmatic smile. In the last but one chapter, he frustrates the orders of the King and the Queen to execute him, by only appearing with his head. Hence, there is no head to chop off! He is the one who guides Alice to the Tea-Party held by March Hare.

MOCK TURTLE

This poor fellow used to be a fine tortoise. He entertains Alice with detailed accounts of his unusual, peculiar education. He is the one who recites the "Lobster Quadrille." The name "Mock Turtle" means veal. It reflects the meaning of his verse. He is never rude or hostile to Alice. In fact, there is every reason to believe that he likes Alice.

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