By: Lewis Carroll
About the Story
Down the Rabbit Hole of Meaning
"Well, then,” the Cat went on, “you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad."
Children are curious cats. They are always questioning the world around them and asking adults their favorite question, “Why?”. In "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland", published by Lewis Carroll in 1865, Alice is a child who has literally fallen into a world of wonder and confusion. The entire story focuses on her journey with unquestioning trust on the concept that those around her know more than she does, and so she is reliant on them to guide her in a logical direction.
But who said that adults were meant to know the answers to life's questions? Chapter 6 of the novel uses the Cheshire Cat as a way to demonstrate that life iteslf is mad. You never know which direction it's going to take you, even when you think you know the way ahead. The chapter also demonstrates that poeple don't live and operate by a certain set of rules. Evert creature, be it animal or human, is unique and different in their behavior and thinking. Like the Cheshire Cat states, a cat may seem mad to a dog because they growl when they're happy and wag their tale when they're angry, but that is just the way life is. Every person thinks and acts differently in every day situations, which is what makes life so interesting. We're all mad in our own unique way, but that doesn't make us crazy.
This direction from the Cheshire Cat is frustrating to Alice, just as the concept is frustrating to the reader. As a miror to life not providing black and white answers to humanity's biggest questions, neither do the characters in the book. Carroll doesn't have an overarching moral to the story, but lets Alice make up her own mind on how her journey should go. And if that makes her mad, then so be it. We all are.