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Alice In Wonderland

This presentation is made for our Homeschool lesson plan of Alice in Wonderland.

Teresa Green

on 19 June 2010

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Transcript of Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Origins AKA Charles Ludwidge Dodgson The White Rabbit
Dean Liddell, Alice's father, could very well have been the White Rabbit, for the Dean was always running late too; when Alice was a child, there was no west entrance to the Cathedral and the Dean would normally have had to leave the Deanery, walk along Tom Quad, around the Cloisters and into the Cathedral through the south door. Therefore he was notorious for being late for services. The present Cathedral Garden then belonged to one of the Cannons who subsequently gave permission to the Dean to use the door as a short cut to the Cathedral. The rabbit hole
It is said that the 'Rabbit Hole' can be found in the dining hall in Christ Church, Oxford. Alice's father. would have dined at the High Table with other senior members of the college. After dinner the senior members did not drop down amongst the undergraduates but went through a panelled door to the left of the spot where Liddell's portrait is now hanging. Behind this door is a very narrow spiral staircase which descends to the senior common room, then to a corridor which emerges in Tom Quad. Dean Liddell would use the staircase and appear in Tom Quad on his way home to the Deanery. So it is said that it was the inspiration for the Rabbit Hole.
However, as the spiral staircase behind the High Table in Hall was built in 1906, this claim can be doubted. Off with his head!
If the hall inspired Dodgson, it might also have been the inspiration for the famous saying of the Queen of Hearts ('Off with his head!'). For as one sits at High Table, the portrait of Henry VIII is looking down at you. And we all know what he is best known for...

The door to Wonderland
This door must have been the little door behind the curtain, in the hallway. The garden on the photographs is called the Cathedral Garden, and is in fact 'Wonderland'. Behind that door lies the Dean's Garden in which the Liddell sisters often played. The Cathedral Garden was a garden they were not allowed to enter, but which they could see from the window of their nursery. This was a view familiar to Dodgson from the period of time that he spent playing with the children in the nursery and hence became the forbidden garden to Alice, and used by Dodgson as 'Wonderland'. On the far side of the Dean's garden is the rear of the library. It was from the windows of this library that Dodgson, then in his post of Sub-librarian, was able to look down into the garden and first saw Alice playing with her brother and sisters. Because of his interest in photography he later approached the Dean's wife and obtained permission to photograph the children. The flower border along the Deanery Wall was planted with plants mentioned in 'Through the Looking Glass'. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed into the Dean's garden at the time of our visit.

Why the White Rabbit is always late
In the Tom Tower hangs the bell called Great Tom. At five past nine every night the bell strikes one hundred and one times, which represents the original number of Undergraduates at the college. On the last strike all the Junior members were expected to be back in college. The reason for ringing at five past nine is that Oxford is five minutes west of Greenwich. Therefore, five past nine (Greenwich Time) is in fact nine o'clock in Oxford time. Time was only standardized in Britain with the coming of the railways and the need for reliable time tables. Christ Church obviously decided that change was a bad thing and that they would retain to the old Oxford time. Still to this day the services times in the Cathedral are five minutes past the hour and the Formal Hall is held at 7.20 whereas all the other colleges dine at 7.15. Even as a child Dodgson had a great interest in the railways and invented railway games using the timetables. Perhaps that is why the White Rabbit was always running late; he was a Christ Church White Rabbit. The Duck, the Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet
The Liddell sisters are present in the Alice books too. At the end of the second chapter from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland it says: "There was a Duck, and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet". The Duck is Canon Duckworth, the friend that went with them on the boat trip, Lorina is the Lorry and Edith the Eaglet. Dodo was Charles Dodgson, who had a slight stutter which made him sometimes give his name as 'Do-do-Dodgson'.

The queer-looking party of animals

"They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank"

The individuals in this party represent the participants in an episode entered in Carrol’s diary on June 17, 1862. Carroll took his sisters, Fanny and Elizabeth, and his Aunt Lucy Lutwidge (the ‘other curious creatures’) on a boating expedition, along with Reverend Duckworth and the three Liddell girls. This is what Carroll wrote in his diary:

"June 17 (Tu). Expedition to Nuneham. Duckworth (of Trinity) and Ina, Alice and Edith came with us. We set out about 12.30 and got to Nuneham about 2: dined there, then walked in the park and set off for home about 4.30. About a mile above Nuneham heavy rain came on, and after bearing it a short time I settled that we had better leave the boat and walk: three miles of this drenched us all pretty well. I went on first with the children, as they could walk much faster than Elizabeth, and took them to the only house I knew in Sandford, Mrs. Broughton’s, where Ranken lodges. I left them with her to get their clothes dried, and went off to find a vehicle, but none was to be had there, so on the others arriving, Duckworth and I walked on to Iffley, whence we sent them a fly."

Within the original manuscript appear many more details relating to this experience: the Dodo takes Alice, the Lorry, Eaglet and Duck to a house where they can dry instead of doing a caucusrace. Carroll later deleted it because he thought it would have little interest to anyone outside the circle of the individuals that were involved. (source: Gardner, M., The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.44)
The Mouse's tale
When the Mouse tells the driest thing he knows, he's quoting from Havilland Chepmell's "Short Course of History", 1862, pages 143-144. Chepmell's book was one of the lesson books studied by the Liddell children. (source: Gardner, M., The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.46) The caucus race
In England the term 'caucus' referred to a system of highly disciplined party organization by committees. It was often used as an abusive term for the organization of an opposing party. With the term 'causus race' Carroll may have poked fun at the committees, as committee members generally did a lot of running around in circles while they were getting nowhere.

The Lory and the Crab, and the Tweedle's chapter
There seem to be several parallels between the book "Holiday House" by Catherine Sinclair and the Alice stories. In The Knight Letter no.78, Selwyn Goodacre mentions amongst others the following similarities: "I was in the world long before you were born, and must know best: so hold your tongue."
(said Mrs. Crabtree in Holiday House) "Indeed, she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned sulky, and would only say, "I am older than you, and must know better."

"...an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to her daughter, 'Ah, my dear! Let this be a lesson never to lose your temper!'
'Hold your tongue, Ma!' said the young Crab, a little snappishly."
(AAIW, chapter 3) "...I shall say not another word about
(In Holiday House, chapters II, III, IV, V, VI and VII all end with a repeat of the chapter title)
"...feeling sure that they must be
(The ending of chapter III of TTLG) Alice's long neck
In 'Alice in Wonderland', eating something causes Alice's neck to stretch. This fireplace in the Hall (the largest college dining hall in Oxford) could very well have been the inspiration for this. Why? Just take a good look at the 'firedogs'... The Fish footman
In chapter 6 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ('Pig and Pepper'), Alice meets a talking fish. It is believed that this idea originated from an attraction Alice Liddell saw when she was at a fair. The Cheshire Cat tree
It might seem a little stupid to take a photograph of a tree. But this is said to be the tree in which the Cheshire Cat was seated. It is a Horse Chestnut tree. It grows in the Dean's Garden (and as I said, we had no permission to go there), so I had to take the picture from the other side of the wall... The Cheshire Cat
"To grin like a Cheshire Cat" was a common phrase in Carroll’s day. Its origin is not known. However, it could have originated from a sign painter in Cheshire, who painted grinning lions on the sign-boards of inns in the area.

Another explanation could be that at one time, Cheshire cheeses were molded in the shape of a grinning cat. (source: Gardner, M., The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.83)

Also, when you take a good look at the 'Alice Window' in Oxford (see somewhat further on this page), you can see 3 grinning animals at the top of the Liddell's family arms. Perhaps this is what inspired Dodgson.

Finally, this site gives another possible explanation: the Cheshire Cat might be inspired by a carving in Croft Church. Croft Church has a sedile - a seat for the clergy built into the wall - at one end of which is a carved stone face of a cat or lion. Seen from a pew it has a wide smile. But if you stand up, the grin seems to disappear, just as it eventually does in "Alice in Wonderland".
Mad as a Hatter / Mad as a March Hare
The phrases ‘mad as a hatter’ and ‘mad as a march hare’ were also common in Carroll's time.

‘Mad as a hatter’ probably owes its origin to the fact that hatters actually did go mad, because the mercury they used sometimes gave them mercury poisoning.
(source: Gardner, M., The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.90)

However, there's another theory about the origin of the phrase 'mad as a hatter' (pointed out to me by Boult):

[...] " here's the entry for '''Mad as a Hatter' refers to madness or hatters" in the 1980 A Dictionary of Common Fallacies:

Lewis Carroll with his penchant for linguistic games presumably knew perfectly well that his "Mad Hatter' meant 'a venomous adder', but since his readers may have been misled by Tenniel's drawings, it should be pointed out that 'mad' meant 'venomous' and 'hatter' is a corruption of 'adder', or viper, so that the phrase 'mad as an atter' originally meant 'as venomous as a viper'.

Here's a much older citation of the same strip from a 1901 book:

"In the Anglo-Saxon the word 'mad' was used as a synonym for violent, furious, angry, or venomous. In some parts of England and in the United States particularly, it is still used in this sense. 'Atter' was the Anglo-Saxon name for an adder, or viper. The proverbial saying has therefore probably no reference to hat-makers, but merely means 'as venomous as an adder.' The Germans call the viper 'Natter.'" - Edwards's Words, Facts, and Phrases.

In simpler terms, "mad as a hatter" was a play on words (with "adder" becoming "hatter"). Though the mercury/hatters/crazy explanation appears to fit the term, it fits only retrospectively -- at the time Carroll coined the phrase, "mad" meant "venomous," not "insane." "

"Mad as a hare’ alludes to the crazy capers of the male hare during March, its rutting season.
Tenniel drew the March Hare with straw on his head. At Carroll's time, this was a symbol of madness.
The Dormouse
The Dormouse may have been modelled after Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s pet wombat, which had a habit of sleeping on the table. Carroll knew the Rosetti’s and occasionally visited them. (source: Gardner, M., The Annotated Alice, 1998, p.95) The treacle well
At the tea party, the Dormouse mentions a treacle well. The idea of the treacle well originated from of the legend of St. Frideswide, a local princess. I'll quote a part of the informative paper I received during my visit to Oxford:

"This story of the well sounds like a piece of complete nonsense on the part of Dodgson, however it is, of course, complete logical, for one must always remember that when the story of Alice was first told, Dodgson was telling the story to a 10 year old girl. In order to keep her attention he had to talk about things that she knew and understood, as in the case of the treacle well. The Frideswide Window tells the story of St. Frideswide and her flight from Prince Algar. [...] Alice Liddell witnessed both the making and the installation of the window and was also familiar with the story of St. Frideswide. [...] The right hand of the window depicts the scene of Frideswide together with old women drawing water from a well, this water was then used by Frideswide to cure illness. This well still exists today (at St. Margaret's Church, Binsey) and has always been known as a treacle well. The word treacle is an Anglo-Saxon word which means 'cure all' and this explains why the sisters at the bottom of the well were very unwell - had they been well then they would have had no need to go there in the first place. It is known that Dodgson and Alice had visited the well several times and there is little doubt that it was the inspiration for the story told by the Dormouse."

The Lord, Crab, and Tweedle's chapter
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