A little girl makes a journey down the rabbit hole, only to discover a whole new universe waiting to be explored. Sounds like a perfect setting for a magical fairy-tale? Well, not so much so.
Lewis Carol’s exciting narratives about Alice’s journey to a world beyond this one, has managed to fan the wings of imagination of countless of children pan globe. The rousing narrative and innumerable escapades of the little girl beholds its readers in awe. However, over the years, the way in which this book has been received has undergone momentous several transformations.
The story found its beginning as a figment of imagination, a story brewing in the cauldron of wit and unorthodoxy, created as it was being told to 3 little girls during a 5 mile boat journey in the July of 1862. It found its way to the pages when Charles Dodgson decided to retell the story in 1865 under the pseudo name of Lewis Carol. Since then, in addition to being referred to as the immortal genius of a classic fairy-tale, it has also been challenged on multiple grounds.
The most conspicuous of these have been the glorification of narcotics, especially in chapter 5, where an unperturbed caterpillar smoking a hookah while sitting atop of a mushroom, shower upon Alice pearls of wisdom and helps her finds the white rabbit. Popular culture, especially radical sub-culture has used the term ‘going down the rabbit hole’ to symbolize the state of delusion euphoria while consuming narcotics.
The book was banned in China in 1931 because of the appearance of ‘talking animals’ , which was inappropriate since it meant putting humans and animals on the same pedestal, thereby against the ‘laws of nature’ and ‘the will of God’. There were anxieties on the grounds of the narrative being sexually expletive and disrespectful towards teachers, which caused the book being deleted from the course structure of various schools. The jolting twists and turns in the tale, which are ironic and satirical, are also a cause of the mass anxieties instigated by the book. The adult world trembles at the possibility of the book planting and nurturing subservient attitudes in the kids, through a subconscious approach.
Alice in the Wonderland is however, just a tale that has been read into a little too much. Surfacing at a time when all the tales were used to reclaim moral high-grounds and were preachy in their core, Alice in the Wonderland was a break from the usual self-righteous stories that always came complete with a moral at the end. Alice in the wonderland truly told the tale of a liberated childhood and absurd imagination, unsullied by what’s ‘correct’ and what’s ‘inappropriate’. Its sole aim was to entertain the children and leave them entranced in the magic of storytelling.
“I can’t tell you just now what the moral is,” remarks the Duchess, “but I shall remember it in a bit.” Her memory fails her anyway.