Today I have another chick who rocks the pop culture world and has left a mark on pop culture in so many ways that it is hard to keep track of it all. I am of course talking about Alice in Wonderland. Many consider the story of Alice to be just a children’s tale but it is not just that. The original story by Lewis Carroll has inspired many other stories, films and even the English language. Quite impressive isn’t it? That’s why it is time to take a look at what makes Alice so appealing not only to kids but also to adults.
Alice in Wonderland was written by Charles Dodgson, better known under his pen name Lewis Carroll. Charles was a mathematician, but also enjoyed photography and writing. Charles had many child friends and preferred the company of little girls. Many argue that this must mean that he was a paedophile, but opinions are very different on that. What must be taken into account is the fact that he lived in different times and they had different standards then, most of which we do not agree with today. One thing that cannot be denied is his close friendship with Alice Liddell. Yes that’s right, the inspiration behind the Wonderland books. She was the Dean’s daughter and Dodgson grew close to her and her three sisters, but had a special preference for Alice.
He told her many stories, but the story of Alice in Wonderland came to life during a boat trip Dodgson had with the three Liddell sisters and a friend of Dodgson’s. About the boat trip, Alice Liddell later wrote in her memoirs:
“The beginning of Alice was told to me one summer afternoon ,when the sun was so hot we landed in the meadows down the river, deserting the boat to take refuge in the only bit of shade to be found, which was under a newly made hayrick. Here from all three of us, my sisters and myself, came the old petition, ‘Tell us a story’ and Mr. Dodgson began it. Sometimes to tease us, Mr. Dodgson would stop and say suddenly, ‘That’s all till next time.’ ‘Oh,’ we would cry, ‘it’s not bedtime already!’ and he would go on. Another time the story would begin in the boat and Mr. Dodgson would pretend to fall asleep in the middle, to our great dismay.” Source
Alice liked these stories and Dodgson began to write them down which ultimately resulted into the tale we know today.
It is remarkable that a tale which is this old is still so popular today. A great reason for that is very likely to be Disney’s 1951 animated version of the story. Despite it not being the most popular Disney film of all time, the film still made sure people knew the story. A lot of important characters did not make the cut in the animated version, most notably the Jabberwocky. Yet the Disney film surely encouraged a lot of people to start reading the book and get to know the original tale which is so full of wit and wonder.
But the Disney classic is not the only adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. More recently Tim Burton released an Alice in Wonderland film followed by Through The Looking Glass. While neither follow the original story, it still gave a boost to Alice’s popularity.
Apart from that, Alice is one of the most quoted and loved books out there. Phrases such as “Mad as a Hatter” and “Grinning like a Cheshire Cat” only became popular after the release of the novel.
Why is Alice a bad-ass?
You might wonder why we think Alice is a bad-ass. Apart from the cultural impact she’s had on the world, Alice is also a very interesting character. She is a young girl who discovers a world which is completely unknown to her. Instead of being afraid, she approaches it with an open mind, describing it all as curioser and curioser. She is not afraid to speak her mind and helps others, which are important characteristics.
But most importantly, she allows us back into the head of a child again. When we grow older we tend to forget how to dream and how to use our imagination. Yet sometimes it would be good for us to approach things like Alice, to look at the world with an open mind. I hope that the story will continue to live on for many years both in the hearts and minds of kids and adults alike. We owe that to our imagination.