by Andrew Pacholyk MS LAc. ~
“Alas it’s not too hard to see, the world obsessed with Alice and she…
the Queen, the Rabbit, the Hatter and such, beloved by all ~ with so “muchness”
that we’ve acquired from philosophies, spent in time over cakes and teas.
The odd life lessons that we’ve learned, from every single page we’ve turned!”
As a child, I loved the silliness and magical play in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. As an adult, I found myself a fan of Lewis Carroll and his infamous books, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” . As an adult, I found that these books could be read and looked into, on many levels. On the outside, it is a children’s story with fun and fancy plays on words and an imagination running wild. It is also a Victorian story about the ways of English society. Once you know a little more about Lewis Carroll, you find out that It is the childhood life of the author based on his favorite friend, Some even believe it is a story that contains hidden meanings.
The allure to these wonderful stories, I believe, is the human elements of confusion, compassion, understanding, love and intrigue that leads us “right down the rabbit hole” behind Alice as she falls into the nonsensical world of “Underland”. The power struggles and challenges she faces along her journey seem to mirror many of life’s experiences. The characters she meets along the way can seem like those we have met along our life’s travels and comparisons are often instinctive.
Alice, like her predecessors before her and those who have come after her in literature, are on a quest. A quest to go home, find normalcy or even just a familiar face. The trip is wrought with obstacles and paving stones, with some familiarity along the way. These glimmers of hope and “happen-stance” push us ever forward in our own journey to find what it is, we are searching for.
Much has been written about these characters over the centuries, so with the help of so many, I have brought together their incredible insights:
The Metaphysical Personalities
Alice is reasonable, well-trained, and polite. Alice’s constant resource and strength is her courage. Time and again, her dignity, her directness, her conscientiousness, and her art of conversation all fail her. She is a strong and curious child, brought up in an era when women were seen, but not heard. Admired, but not taken seriously. But when the chips are down, Alice reveals something to the Queen of Hearts, which is her spunk and tenacity! ~ “Curiouser and curiouser!”
The White Rabbit appears wearing a waistcoat and a watch. He is a nervous, yet serious character, who often understnad right from wrong, yet he would be the first one to “blow the whistle” if things don’t go his way. His anxiety is overplayed against his need to be punctual and efficient. Alice follows him down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. The White Rabbit is a decoy – he’s the surprise that leads to all her adventures in Wonderland. He attracts Alice’s attention with contradiction. Intrigued by the juxtaposition of beast and gentleman, Alice hurries after him. ~ “Oh dear! Oh dear! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”
The Mad Hatter or “mad as a hatter” explains why he is sincere in his eccentric mannerisms. He is a very gracious host who is forever trapped in a never ending tea party celebrating his “very merry un-birthday”. Eccentric and unorthodox in his mannerisms and very likely, mad, indeed. Based, perhaps on the hatters of the time, Carroll brings this character’s looniness to the forefront. At the time of the Victorian age, the public was not yet astute to, what is now called, Mad hatter disease, or mad hatter syndrome. This, was an occupational disease among hat makers, caused by chronic mercury poisoning. It affected those whose felting work involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapors. The neurotoxic effects included tremor and the pathological shyness and irritability characteristic of erethism. At the time, Carroll found these eccentricities fascinating, including them into his story, to create an even more contentious and interesting character. ~ “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
The Queen of Hearts takes control with absolute rule and execution. Her Highness is dressed up in multi-layer crimson red and beautifully wicked black ~ literally the heart of Alice’s conflict. Her power lies in her rhetoric. The Queen becomes representative of the idea that Wonderland is devoid of substance. Perhaps seeing (or admiring) the power a woman could have intrigued Alice. Although it was power ~gone too far, it was disrupting to Alice on many levels. Her goal to try and understand this abuse of power, lured her deeper into the clutches of the Queen ~ “Off with her head!”
The Cheshire Cat has a permanent smile on his face and can disappear at will. He is a very odd being able to reshape his body to either amuse or frighten his visitors. He’s very mysterious, and in his own way, very dark. He is mad, but unlike the others, he admits it with pride. He is that elusive character that so many of us may wish to aspire to. Not being committed to anyone but ourselves, moving about as freely as we wish or not seeming to have a care in the world, Cheshire is an enigma, all his own. All of Wonderland’s inhabitants appear to hold a fear over him, even the Queen of Hearts, most likely due to the fact that he is the maddest and craziest of them..~ “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad, we’re all mad!”
The Caterpillar is sitting on a mushroom while smoking a hookah, when Alice first meets him. Although he is rather strict and not very friendly, and corrects Alice, he does help her by advising her to eat from the mushroom if she wants to change her size. He is the “sage” or person of wisdom, that many look to for answers. His dominant and matter-of-fact way of speaking and looking at things, gives him the confidence over others, as well as the rein of an authority figure. The Caterpillar actually teaches Alice how to cope with the difficulties she encounters and to adapt to her environment when needed. His transition from death as a caterpillar to being reborn as a butterfly, gives us the lessons of rising from the ashes or having the ability to change your life for the better. ~ “`Who ARE you?’”
The “curiouser and curiouser” fascination with Lewis Carroll and his infamous books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, has spanned decades! The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially for those who have tried to find its “hidden meanings” in this fantasy genre. We pay tribute to this fun and whimsical world through our great line of Wonderland Candles, our precious jewelry and our scent of Wonderland incense! Discover the entire collection here!
Be sure and read our great article, Breakfast with Alice!
A VERY special thanks to these wonderful sites and their time spent on creating and finding such gems within Lewis Carroll’s masterpieces.