Alice’s Identities Through her Creators
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a classic 19th century literary work written for children by Reverend Charles Dodgson, whose pen name is Lewis Carroll. As a children’s book, Carroll ensured that the work was as descriptive as possible for a child to see Wonderland and use his or her imagination to create the fantastical world and its characters. Disney created a feature length film with the story of Alice and her Adventure’s in Wonderland. With the release of Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, Wonderland was taken to a whole new level and reimagined by Beddor. Through the use of images and descriptive content, Alice in Wonderland and its’ adaptations can make us think of a sweet, young girl who fell asleep on the bank of the river or of a queen fighting on the battlefields of fantasy. These different understandings of the story and of Alice help author’s following in Carroll’s footsteps become creators rather than just writers. These creators invent different models of identities for Alice that children, adolescents, and adults can relate to.
Lewis Carroll’s text is a story of a young girl who is bored listening to a history lesson told by her sister. Suddenly she sees a white rabbit running past that leads her in to the fantasy world of Wonderland. Alice is a naïve, gullible, creative young girl. She epitomizes the imagination of a child. Whether the story of Alice is read to us or we read it ourselves, we can all relate to Alice. As a child we remember what it was like to be curious and creative. Alice in Carroll’s story struggles with her own identity as she changes from small to tall and small again. Carroll created a world for readers to venture to along with Alice. As a young girl, I pictured myself as Alice experiencing Wonderland in my own “reality.” Carroll not only wrote the original story but also created a world for others to expand upon (as one can see through our vector map). We see Alice and Wonderland through the drawings of John Tenniel. Tenniel’s drawings are rather realistic and help the reader to create an image of Wonderland in their mind; however, by viewing Tenniel’s drawings Wonderland in our mind is not our Wonderland anymore but that of Tenniel’s. Tenniel created this world for us to experience and see.
Disney released an Alice in Wonderland film in 1951. The Alice in the film has the same type of personality as the Alice from Carroll’s original story. She seems innocent and is curious about both Wonderland and her identity due to her rapid height changes. Alice meets many new creatures and people that make her question her identity. Alice’s story is full of good and bad choices, just like in childhood and adolescence. She eats the cookies and drinks the liquids that ultimately provide an identity crisis for Alice, which she finally admits to the caterpillar. Disney created a visually appealing film for all audiences and created an entertaining adaptation of Carroll’s work. “Further, because the story is being a visual medium instead of on the printed page, it is not the verbal dexterity of the mad characters that impresses: rather it is their anarchic and violent behavior which makes most impact on the viewer” (Beveridge, 618-620). As a viewer we are not as interested to what the characters say but what they look like and how they act. Through a different medium, Disney was able to create an interpretation of Alice for us. Disney created Alice as a young, blonde girl with a blue dress and white pinafore. Typically when people think of Alice they picture the Disney creation of her.
The Looking Glass Wars trilogy is based on Carroll’s original story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; however, Carroll’s story is a lie. The true story of Alyss Heart is a sad story that involves Alyss’ parents getting murdered by her Aunt Redd in Wonderland. Alyss is forced to flee Wonderland through the Pool of Tears and ends up in London, England. The Liddell family, who now spell her name Alice, eventually adopt her. Alyss eventually meets Reverend Charles Dodgson and shares her story of Wonderland with him. From Alyss’ account of Wonderland, the Reverend writes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. By stating that Carroll’s story is a lie, Beddor is able to create his own Wonderland. Beddor’s Wonderland is very futuristic and makes the reader believe in a fantasy world aligned with reality. Alyss Heart is older in Beddor’s version and deals with many more serious issues. Throughout the series Alyss carries weapons to fight against her Aunt Redd and the assassin the Cat. Alyss must fight to keep imagination in Wonderland. The fight in the fantasy world of Wonderland effects reality. Unlike Carroll’s version and Disney’s film, Alice seems to lose her innocence throughout the trilogy. She must become mature and find her way through several tests before she can claim the throne of Wonderland. In Beddor’s version “Fantasy declares war on reality” (Beddor). The images in Beddor’s texts utilize technology to create a realistic portrayal of futuristic Wonderland.
The different identities of Alice create a story or film for different audiences. Carroll’s and Disney’s versions being more lighthearted and Beddor’s being darker. Franz Meier states that through these different models of identities “the reader can explore the different identities and thus construct or reconstruct his or her own” (117-134). Through reimagining, parodies, imitations, or retellings of the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the audience can begin to create their own idea of Alice’s Wonderland as well as their own personal Wonderland. Alice’s identities and creators allow the audience to learn more about their own personal identity and utilize the images and illustrations provided by the artists attached to each adaptation.
Beddor, Frank. The Looking Glass Wars. Speak, 2007. Print.
Beveridge, Allan. “Images of madness in the films of Walt Disney.” Psychiatric Bulletin. 20. (1996): 618-620. Print.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland ; &, Through The Looking-glass. Signet Classics, 2000. Print.
Geronimi, Clyde, dir. Alice in Wonderland. Walt Disney Pictures, 1951. Film.
Meier, Franz. “Photographic Wonderland: Intermediality and Identity in Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.” Alice beyond wonderland: essays for the twenty-first century. Comp. Christopher Hollingsworth and Ed. University Of Iowa Press, 2009. 117-134. Print.
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