As a child I could sense that these were parodies of "real" respectable poems; Alice tells you so — she can feel "You are old, Father William" going remorselessly wrong as she recites it. Order and disorder are very close. The intellect offers more delight than the emotions — perhaps our first prolonged experience of intellectual excitement.
I store books in my head with half-visualised mnemonics. The Alice books sit apart as a kind of cubic cat's-cradle of brightly coloured threads — red, white, black, grass-green. I now also think of the impossible buildings and worlds in the drawings of MC Escher. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was written in and published in Through the Looking-Glass was published in The great children's books that shaped the imaginations of successive generations came later and many were written around the turn of the 20th century.
Children in these books have a kind of emotional and moral autonomy which is new in literature.
Alice in Wonderland Essay examples
The child reader feels their problems, decisions and dangers differently from those of either children in real fairy stories Hansel and Gretel or children in novels who will grow up — Pip in terror by his parents' gravestone, Oliver Twist in the orphanage, David Copperfield tormented by the Murdstones, Jane Eyre in the Red Room, or furious, sulky Maggie Tulliver.
Some great characters in children's books are orphans, or part orphans, or temporary orphans whose parents have gone away. Kipling, in his autobiographical story for adults, "Baa Baa Black Sheep", one of the greatest stories I've read, tells of children suddenly separated from parents for five years in India and sent to stay with a gloomy religious tyrant, who persecutes the boy and does not notice he is going blind.
One of the most moving orphans is Mary in The Secret Garden. Mary is doubly isolated. She is born in India to a fashionable flibbertigibbet mother who neglects her and leaves her to the care of servants.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. - WriteWork
Her mother is then killed by cholera, along with most of the household, and the uncomprehending child is discovered alone in the house of death. The fact that she does not quite understand what has happened arouses the reader's sympathy at the start. She is a disagreeable, self-centred child, sent to stay in the Yorkshire house of an invisible, absent uncle. My childish responses to Mary's attempts to make sense of the world were the opposite to my response to Alice. I felt protective towards her and, at the same time, I did see the world from inside her.
I was embarrassed with and for her. Embarrassment is a great point of sympathy between reader and character. Alice is never really embarrassed, although the people of Wonderland constantly try to drive her into that state. Servants and ordinary people are kind to Mary and teach her kindness.
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Yet her own cussedness and capacity for tantrums turn out to be a strength when she meets the cosseted and neglected invalid Colin, another self-centred child — seen by the reader, I think, through Mary's eyes as she hectors him into ordinary life. Another orphan in a strange world is Griselda in The Cuckoo Clock , who goes to live with two great aunts — the reader works out that this is after the death of her parents. In this old house the "stepmothers" are kind and gentle but the child is isolated and thoughtful — and again the child reader can sympathise with her isolation.
She makes friends with a magical cuckoo in a cuckoo clock who takes her to strange worlds — not just "fairyland", as she hopes, but other places full of butterflies or nodding mandarins. She even visits the ballroom of the old house in the past and sees her beautiful, laughing young mother dancing. Again the child reader sees the world from Griselda's point of view, learns as she learns, feels her pleasures and anxieties. Mrs Molesworth is a very present voice as a narrator: "For fairies, you know, children, however charming, are sometimes rather queer to have to do with.
They don't like to be interfered with, or treated except with very great respect, and they have their own ideas about what is proper and what isn't, I can assure you. We are being told a satisfactory tale. We know it must and will end well. Two solitary children I thought of when searching for analogies with Alice are very different from her, and from each other. Dorothy is literally torn away from her already orphaned life with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Kansas when a tornado carries her house away to the Land of Oz, where it lands on, and kills, the Wicked Witch of the East.
As Dorothy travels through Oz, rescuing the heartless Tin Man, the brainless Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, she might be thought to resemble Alice travelling through the Looking-Glass world in the company of the White Knight, the Sheep and the mournful Gnat.
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But in truth Dorothy does not have much character — less than her three companions who nevertheless provide no niche for the reader's imagination to hang on to. Oz, with its four compass directions, two Wicked Witches and two Good Witches, and the Emerald City of Oz in the centre, feels like a construction, not like a dream. It has been said to be an allegory of utopian socialism, and it has been said to be an allegorised tract against the commodification of America.
It is certainly about America, in a quite different way from the way that the Mowgli tales, Puck of Pook's Hill , and Kim are about the British empire. Baum was both a great storyteller and a writer with designs on his audience. I have read a very convincing case for the idea that the Yellow Brick Road and the silver shoes Dorothy takes from the dead witch are an allegory of the 19th-century disputes about bimetallism and the gold standard.
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Even the name Oz would stand for an ounce of free silver on the golden path to a free coinage. The shoes were changed to ruby in the film. Jack Zipes has argued convincingly that Baum's 14 novels about the land of Oz are a criticism of the America of his time, its machines, its commodities, its politics. Oz, with its kind witches and female powers, is the utopia that stands against, not for, the United States. The way the story is told confirms the idea that it is firmly controlled by beliefs and meanings.
Baum said that he was dispensing with the old world of fairy tales. This is from his introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz :. Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale.
Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder-tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incidents.
European readers may feel that there are things missing from Baum's imaginary world. He mediates this world to us in some ways similarly to the way in which Mrs Molesworth mediates the fairies and shadows of The Cuckoo Clock. As Zipes remarks, Baum's "own writing style and the governing style of [the good witches] Ozma and Glinda are strikingly similar: they are soothing, and attentive to the peculiar desires and needs of characters.
What is splendid about Oz is the detail of things — yellow bricks, emerald glasses, oilcans. Dorothy does good. The worlds they inhabit are open to the imagination of the reader.
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I was amazed, on rereading the Jungle Books, just how much of the jungle and its people I had made up myself, events and places that were not to be found in the original tales. It was not exactly that I "was" Mowgli. Mowgli is alone in a world with its own strange laws and inhabitants, as Alice is alone. He needs to make sense of it, and fast, from the chattering Bandar-log to the swaying snakes. He is both self-sufficient and loved by creatures who are not his parents, or allegories of human family members, but talking beasts in a beasts' world. But as a reader one lives along with Mowgli — or for that matter with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi pursuing cobras through bathrooms.
There is no one like Kipling for smells and sounds, and that peculiar placing of a clearing or a bungalow garden so that the reader knows that the world stretches away beyond what can be seen, equally full of interest, of excitement, of fear. I did not want Mowgli to go back to the humans. I cared as much and as little about his mother as he did, though he needed to save her from the nasty and stupid co-villagers. You are made to look out of Mowgli's eyes though not exclusively ; you cannot get inside Alice. The other solitary boy I accompanied like a clinging shadow was Jim in Treasure Island.
His is a first-person narrative, which is as often distancing as it is involving. But the smells, the fear, the effort, the attempt to read strange and dangerous faces, or deceptively mild ones, become part of one's own consciousness. The reader can walk in unexplored parts of Treasure Island , can imagine being marooned. Jim enters his story as his father dies and his world becomes precarious, like that of Mary in The Secret Garden.
Jim's mother is there at the beginning, counting out no more than her due of gold coins from the dead pirate's hoard.
The adventure story begins when Jim leaves home.