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Alice in Wonderland Sexuality

A look at psychoanalytic sexual imagery and consumption sexuality in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"

Ashley LeBlanc

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Alice in Wonderland Sexuality

Sexuality in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Presentation Outline Lewis Carroll's Life: Pedophile or Literary Genius
The Real Alice

What is Psychoanalysis in Literature?

Freud and "Alice in Wonderland
The Blooming Female Sexuality
Phallic Symbolism and Penis Envy
Sexuality Through Consumption 1. 2. 3. a. b. Carroll's Life: Pedophile or Literary Genius? - Born Charles Dodgson in England, 1832
Died in 1898, age 65
- Most notable writings were "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel "Through the Looking Glass"

- Thought to have based the female characters of his novels on female children he knew in real life. Alice Liddell would prove to be the most notable.

- Also had great interest in photography. "Strongly disapproved of pornography, he owned books that covered sexual and physical matters as frankly as was then legally possible" (Woolf, 97) a. The Real Alice - Father was Dean of Christ
Church, where he met Carroll

_Carroll becomes attached, Missing pages in diary are suggested to contain sexual feelings for Alice

- Always believed to be the inspiration for the "Alice" character in "A in W". photo taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Liddell Psychoanalysis and Consumption Ashley LeBlanc English 3491 What is Psychoanalytic Theory? - Branch of literary criticism built on principles of psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud

- Main concepts in Freudian theory include the "unconscious self", "id", "ego", and "superego"

-We can better understand and interpret literature by applying methods of psychoanalysis both to literary characters and their authors (Rollin and West, 36).
- We treat work as a dream, interpreting the content to find hidden meanings through symbolism photo taken from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sigmund_Freud_LIFE.jpg Psychoanalyzing "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - Easy to interpret psychoanalytically because it IS a dream
"To make the dream-story from which Wonderland was elaborated seem Freudian one only has to tell it" (Empson, 357).

-Ever since psychoanalytic theory emerged, "Alice" has been subject to psychoanalysis; She was focus of sexual symbolism in the novel Sexual Symbolism in "Alice in Wonderland" - Beginning in Chapter 2, Carroll's 'repressed' sexual thoughts towards Alice are revealed
- Alice 'penetrating' the rabbit hole
- Lock and key as symbolism for coitus
- Normal-sized door representing adult women (Goldschmidt, 281)

- To psychoanalysts, this shows "the presence, in [Lewis Carroll’s] subconscious, of an abnormal emotion of considerable strength" (Ibid). The Budding Female Sexuality: Alice's Maturation - Other psychoanalysts believe that "falling down a hole" could represent female genitalia
In Wonderland, Alice is free to explore her sexuality. In the world above (Victorian England) it would have been discouraged.

- When social constraints are removed, child sexuality emerges


- Could Caroll be criticizing the overzealous obsession to repress the sexual nature of a human being, especially of a young person, which stops them from ever reaching maturation? Phallic Symbolism & Penis Envy - In the novel, Alice's neck extends = male erection
-This reflects the psychoanalytic notion of penis envy
- Her frustration with lack of male genitalia leads her to babble on about her feet: "Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears?" (Carroll, 70)

- Picture provided in text also follows phallic symbolism: Head is rather larger then neck, resembling penis photo taken from text Phallic Symbolism Continued - Alice, at the peak of growth, begins fanning herself, and then begins shrinking = masturbation

- After shrinking, Alice is about four inches tall and is "up to her chin in salt water" (74) = water is symbolic for semen

-Crocodile nursery rhyme further explains Alice's need for sexual freedom: "welcome little fishes in/ with gently smiling jaws" (73)
- Act of accepting semen from male Questions? as discussed in (Schilder, 291) " Lewis Carroll, having an unconventional relationship with the young Alice Liddell, wrote "Alice in Wonderland" out of motivation and fear. Carroll's motivation was the hope that someday Alice would be able to be his love; his fear was that if she did not reach womanhood successfully, she would end up like the many women of the Victorian era that he loathed"
- (O'Sullivan, 22) Sexuality through Consumption - Carroll control's Alice's level of ingestion in relation to her level of sexuality and growth
"...hunger, which is representative of desire, expressed by young girls made them impure and undesirable from his perspective" (Garland 28)

- Only allows what Carroll himself labels "Eat Me" and "Drink Me" (think of the sexual imagery from "Goblin Market"!

- In the Alice stories, Carroll uses the Duchess and Queen to demonstrate "vagina dentata" theory which describes "bestial, aggressive, destructive female sexuality" (Garland 25) c.
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