What Does Alice’s Body Size Changing Symbolize in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll?
Being an allegory, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is full of metaphors and symbolism. One of the most prevalent symbols are the fluctuations in Alice’s size that happen throughout the book.
The Process of Growing Up
When she finds herself inside the Rabbit Hole at the beginning of the book she is too big to go into the dreamy and wonderful garden on the other side of the tiny door. She drinks a mysterious little potion and she shrinks. But, now she is too small to reach the key that unlocks the garden door. Controlling her size seems to be one of her main preoccupations during the story.
Caterpillar’s mushroom with sides that either shrink or enlarge the consumer might be the answer, but as soon as she believes this magic shroom to be effective, things get out of control once more. At the end of the book, ranting because of an absurd trial organized by the Queen of Hearts, she grows excessively and her adventures in Wonderland are over.
Alice’s changes in size could have a direct correlation with her age and the process of growing up, which she is actually going through (Karlsson, p.1). These changes in size are usually symbolically linked with puberty and changes that happen to a young body during it. Her emotions are unstable due to this process and they are often changing. They affect her physically, which manifests in size fluctuations. At this point, she is searching for her grown up identity (Alice in Wonderland. net, n.d.). When Alice is mad or enraged she seems to grow out of normal proportions, and when she realizes that she has to adjust to her surroundings, she shrinks and becomes normal again.
There can be a lot of individual interpretations when it comes to these size changes, but this is the most renowned one.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Themes and Motifs.(2016). Retrieved from http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/analysis/themes-and-motifs/
Karlsson, J. ( 2009). Alice’s Vacillation between Childhood and Adolescence in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1, 1-14, Karlstads Universitet,England.