Lewis Carroll Research Paper Example

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Lewis Carroll Research Paper Example

Lewis Carroll has created two books about Alice: “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” The story of little Alice is wonderful, fascinating, and exciting. Readers, critics, and researchers have found many interpretations and inner meanings of the story. The image of a brave but polite girl who is not afraid of surreal worlds and authorities is both loved by children and adults. It is not a surprise that the story has many film adoptions, animated cartoons, comics, and other materials created about Alice.

In the following Lewis Carroll research paper the author has researched the role of the dream in “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” Feel free to use the ideas from this sample to add more interesting points to your own research paper. In addition, check the list of literature that the author used for creating this paper, and maybe you will find more information there. Also, check the “Alice in Wonderland” summary sample on our blog.

How Has the Role of the Dream Changed From “Alice in Wonderland” to “Through the Looking-Glass”?


“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” are children’s fantasy books written in the years 1865 and 1871. The plot makes a kind of circle: it all starts with Alice falling asleep, and ends when she wakes up, so we can say that all the adventures of Alice in Wonderland are just a dream in the first book. However, the similar situation happens in the second book as well. As for the genre, these novels are a model of children’s fiction, filled with fantastic elements and following the rules of a fantastic genre during the whole book. Although the plot is unrealistic, the writer managed to create a very convincing fairy-tale world, suitable for children and giving them scope for imagination. The readers following Alice can realize how the dream of a child can create a whole world full of unbelievable things and amazing events. The stories perfectly reflect the hopes and dreams of a young girl “traveling” in her dream which is an integral part of children’s imagination and psycho. The role of the dream is significant in both stories.


Once Carrol said to Tom Taylor that everything described in the stories about Alice is just a dream but he wants the readers to realize it just at the very end of the stories. Beginning with the Rabbit, who then appears and disappears like the magician tricks present in real life, the story of Carroll’s fairy tale develops further, turning into a typical for real dream alternation of vague and distinct plausible events. Yet, everything changes very quickly. Even the words start to get confused: “pigs or figs” asks the Cheshire cat who appears only after the Caterpillar disappears (in real life the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, and in dreams the caterpillar turns into a cat). Usually the phrase that the writer writes, as if describing a dream, does not mean anything. Yet, that is exactly what Carroll tried to do. In his tales, he cut the world around him into pieces, and then collected them again, turning into a mad and fantastic confusion.

The whole complexity in the perception of “Alice” is just that it is not necessary to complicate anything. This book should be perceived playfully, directly, but while having a certain amount of knowledge, a special mindset (remember Carroll himself, crazy on puns and puzzles) and necessarily live imagination (Gardner). Perhaps in the Great Britain of the XIX century children could be taught to read “Alice in Wonderland,” but all my experience proves that today modern children, who have not reached, at least, the senior school age, are not able to fully enjoy the whole range of Carroll fairy tales. Tales about Alice, of course, are the strangest stories invented by a man. In the fairy-tale world, the British confidently staked out their “frontier” places. Oxford philologist Tolkien wrote the most plausible of all possible fairy tales, making millions of readers believe in the world of Middle-earth, and the Oxford mathematician Carroll, on the contrary, gave birth to the most incredible fairy tale in which the whole back of the neck and “backwards, quite the opposite”: where the babies force to eat pepper, the train going “not there,” and in the heat bothering of annoying winged elephants and hippos (Gardner). Between the fairy tales about hobbits and fairy tales about Alice, in my opinion, there is all other fairy-tale heritage.

To introduce the reader into the absurd world of Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Carroll, not thinking too long, chose the dream motif. This was perfectly matched by the spontaneous nature of the composition of the first fairy tale. The development of events in Wonderland, indeed, resembles the wanderings of Alice in the labyrinth of dream with its whimsical, and often – completely unfounded twists of the plot. Dropping into a rabbit hole, Alice flies along the rows of shelves with banks for a long time, then she finds herself in a hall full of doors, through which a sort of “conductor of Virgil” sweeps in the image of the White Rabbit. Then the leapfrog begins with a change of Alice’s sizes while all the improvised tools (bottles with liquid, pies, caterpillar’s mushroom) appear suddenly, sometimes as if from nowhere (Gardner). After crying “the sea of tears,” Alice in a few minutes already bathes in it, together with the birds and animals that have come from far away. Then, the hall smoothly passes into the forest, in one of the trees which reveals a door leading back to the hall (Carroll). From this “voluntarism” of the author, the reader really begins to feel dizzy. It seems that the meaningful direction of the plot is a beautiful garden behind a small door in which the heroine is persistently trying to penetrate. Yet, as it turns out, even in this garden the same absurdity continues with the hysterical Red Queen, the mad quadrille of a griffin and a turtle, or a game of cricket, where no less live flamingos are beaten on live hedgehogs (Carroll). What Carroll really is traditional in, is in the final scenes of both “Alice in the Wonderland” this is the scene of the trial, in the “Through the Looking Glass” – the scene of the feast, after which the awakening of the heroine takes place, and the strange characters surrounding her appear to be soulless elements of the game – cards or chess (Carroll). A special difficulty for the reader of the “Wonderland” is the abundance of personal details. After all, a fairy tale was composed for a very specific narrow circle of people, and most of the names, jokes and plays are practically incomprehensible without a comment.

Unlike the “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the book “Through the Looking Glass” has come out of Carroll’s mind as an example of slimmer and more elegant creation, since it was already compiled for the public, and not as an impromptu for the family of Liddell (Carpenter). However, the impetus for its writing was also Alice, though not Liddell but Raikes, a distant relative of Dodgson. Madness suffices in the “Through the Looking Glass,” but here they are strung on one story thread – the way of Alice’s pawn through the chess field directly to the queens. The very chess field and the arrangement of figures (remember the mutual arrangement of kings and queens) perfectly corresponded to mirror symmetry, piercing the whole novel (Carroll). Everything here is twofold, everything turns and transfer. Paradoxes in the “Through the Looking Glass” are more juicy and sophisticated. It should be said that the tales of Alice are almost completely deprived of moralizing. A discreet and polite Victorian child is here as a reality, and attention is not focused on this. Nevertheless, it is thanks to the sensible Alice that the comfortable existence of the reader in such an absurd world becomes possible. The inhabitants of the Wonderland and the Looking Glass are almost entirely immoral: rude, impudent, proud, inclined to sudden mood swings (Carpenter). The cook throws the sharp kitchen items into the duchess with the child, The Unicorn pierces the Lion through, and the Queen of Hearts constantly threatens to chop off everyone’s heads. Yet, all this does not happen seriously, for fun, and threats never come true. In principle, there are only two truly horrible moments during the story (and only for a thoughtful reader): the first one – when Alice loses her name in the forest, and the second – when she was convinced that everything around her and herself is only a dream that the Black King dreams about (Carroll). However, the common sense of Alice reduces to zero her “existential fears.”

Many argue about the semantic component of Carroll’s fairy tales. I would say briefly about it: there is a formal schematic logic (sometimes very sophisticated) in every application of the heroes, but they use it on the principle of Humpty Dumpty – “as I want I will do.” In this seemingly flawless logic (with hidden dirty tricks), all the strength and weakness of “pure reason” is visible (Carpenter). Fairy tales about Alice cannot better teach paradoxical thinking, while constantly reminding that “logical intricacies can reach the real nonsense.” About what, in principle, nonsense is good, is that it is the purity of its game – a kind of nonsense for the sake of nonsense. Kafka’s “Castle” and “Process” are also utterly absurd, but in them absurdity is not an end in itself, but a method to talk about serious things, so it is horrible of such absurdity. Carroll’s same nonsense, like pure mathematics, is not an originally applied description of reality, but a linguistic and semantic game (or as the clever Gilles Delouse used to say, “the marriage between the language and the unconscious”), the results of which you can “apply” anywhere – they will not become less pointless. Nonsense is “curtsey in the air,” “a smile without a cat,” an attempt to imagine “how the candle flame looks after the candle has gone out,” a world where “there is no rule, and if they are, no one observes them.” Finally, according to the well-defined expression of Chesterton, these are real “intellectual vacations” for the Victorian encumbered by (Carpenter) conventionalities.

Linguists saw in the Carroll puns and paradoxes the beginnings of the future semiotics and semantics. Physicians of the twentieth century seriously pondered the question whether it is possible to drink mirror milk and believed that they found an answer to it. English theologians saw in Alice encoded religious battles (a bottle of orange juice, they think, symbolizes orangists, and there is the attitude of the British people to the papacy), and historians, respectively – historical (the baby of the Duchess, turned into a piglet is Richard III Gloucester who had a wild boar on a coat of arms, and the repainting of roses in the garden is the echo of the Wars of the Roses) (Gardner). The fact that in English-speaking countries Carroll is the most quoted author, after the Bible and Shakespeare, is not a surprise. What can be more universal and more variable for citing than amusing, meaningless works of nonsense. Yet, I will not tire of repeating that before you climb into the fabric of a book with a scalpel and try to analyze it, you must first experience the pleasure of direct and purpose acquaintance with the work. The text should not be considered exclusively as prepared object for personal needs.


It is necessary to mention that Alice lived a long life and died in 1932. Dodgson left this world much earlier – in 1898. Literary Alice from the Looking Glass said goodbye to Lewis Carroll, where he appeared in the image of a ridiculous and kind White Knight – the only person who favorably treated a stranger in a strange world.

“Are you sad?” The Knight said, “let me sing a song for you.”
– Is it very long? – Alice asked.
“It’s long,” replied the Knight, “but very, VERY beautiful!” When I sing it, everyone cries… or …
“Or what?” – Alice asked, not understanding why the Knight suddenly stopped.
“Or … do not cry …” (Carroll).

Among all the miracles that Alice saw in her wanderings through the Looking-Glass, she most clearly remembered this. Many years later, this scene stood before her, as if all this had happened only yesterday: the gentle blue eyes and the soft smile of the Knight, the setting sun, entangled in his hair, the dazzling gleam of the armor, the Horse peacefully plaiting the grass at her feet, neck Horse reins and black shadow of the forest behind.

Works Cited

Carpenter, Angelica Shirley. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking Glass. Lerner. 2002. Web. 30 Jan. 2018.
Carroll, Lewis, Hugh Haughton, and Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; And, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. New York: Penguin Classics, 2009. Print. Web. 30 Jan. 2018.
Gardner, Martin. Introduction to The annotated Alice: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass. W. W. Norton & Company. 2000. Web. 30 Jan. 2018.