Interpreting her childhood story to understand maturation and self-discovery.
Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a tale of maturation and self-discovery. It supports the notion of bildungsroman with the idea that a drastic situation leads to development. Bildungsroman is a German term that focuses on the coming of age or transition from childhood to maturity in a fairy tale.
Alice, to begin with, is a naïve, typical Victorian-era child who becomes more independent by accepting the changes. These changes are her body size, shape, and structure are a metaphor that depicts the adventures of wonderland after falling down a rabbit hole. She sits down and cries because she is confused. Her crying is just one way of releasing her emotions, and thus she is entering the phase of puberty.
Moving forward towards self-discovery, she has now learned to stand up and speak for herself. The role reversal of animal characters does make her question her identity. The characters influence her physical and psychological state and help her to become a confident and inspirational feminist.
The games are an integral part of wonderland and significant as it symbolizes solving problems in the real world. During this process, Alice gains a better understanding of maturation. Lastly, she is ready to face the real world and not just mere imagination. In the text, Alice mentions, oh dear! I nearly forgot that I have to grow up highlighting that she is more comfortable with herself.
The story arc of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Caroline by Neil Gaiman, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling are very similar. All three are fantasies focusing on the main character’s journey and adventure. Plus, it has characteristics of the bildungsroman as the protagonist must transition from childhood to adulthood.
The first similarity is age. All three protagonists are still a child. Alice is seven-years-old, Caroline is eleven-years-old, and Harry is also eleven-years-old. They all want to escape their lives, and it happens by entering the fantasy. Therefore, all protagonist has a backstory. Although the adventure starts as an escape, it soon becomes a process of forced maturation.
The second similarity is the cat and the presence of other animals. Cats acted as guides to warn them of danger. Moreover, it hinted that there are more pieces to add to the story. As a result, all three of them went forward to fulfill their quests toward the unknown. Alice meets the Cheshire cat and has her pet, Dinah. Caroline has The Cat, and Harry meets a cat and caretaker of Hogwarts, Mrs. Norris. All these cats can talk and engage in conversation. It tends to appear and vanish at their will.
The third similarity is personality. All three protagonists are young, fearless, resourceful, and curious. They faced negligence as a child. They want to escape dull life to seek adventure. Despite being dangerous, their reality teaches them to appreciate the people around them.
The fourth similarity is the other mother. She is evil and wants to establish her rule. They appear to be motherly, warm, and open-minded but is a villain. In Alice, the queen of hearts acted as the other mother. She is greatly feared manipulative, and evil.
In Caroline, Beldam is the other mother who is demonic and villainous. She has disguised herself as a victim’s mother. In Harry Potter, Aunt Petunia makes his life hard by treating him unjustly, ignoring his needs, to making him do the chores. Lastly, the stories show a happy ending and a return to reality. The feeling of danger has passed by defeating the main antagonist.
Revisiting our childhood fantasies reminds us that adversity is life’s way of helping us grow and bring out the best in ourselves.