Alice’s Growth in Wonderland

In Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the act of eating/drinking is generally associated with growing/shrinking. However, there is one instance in which Alice grows larger but the text does not indicate that she eats or drinks anything; this occurs during the court trial. Perhaps it is important to note that just prior to this moment in which “she was beginning to grow larger again” (98), Alice witnesses the nervous Hatter accidentally take a bite of his tea cup before he gives his testimony at the trial. In this particular episode of changing sizes, rather than Alice eating something edible herself, Alice is watching the Hatter eat something inedible. Curiously, Alice grows and continues to do so until the climax of the trial, perhaps symbolizing that Alice has embraced her position of power in Wonderland, unafraid of the consequences of disobeying authority, for those with power in Wonderland are “nothing but a pack of cards” (108). Another significant moment (before the trial) is when Alice is at the Mad Hatter’s tea party; there, Alice “[helps] herself to some tea and bread-and-butter” (65) but does not grow or shrink at all. This is the only incident in the text in which eating and drinking do not result in Alice growing or shrinking. Thus, one can contemplate whether Alice’s growth during the court trial is simply a delayed reaction from the food and drink consumed at the Hatter’s tea party earlier that day, or spontaneous growth, perhaps in order to help Alice realize her capabilities over the supposedly menacing authority figures.

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