Alice’s Obsession with Rules

While reading the second half of this novel, there was one line that really stuck out more than the rest of the novel because of how self-aware it was. When she first meets the Gryphon and the Gryphon tells her to follow, she thinks to herself, “Everybody says, ‘come on!’ here…I never was so ordered about before, in all my life, never!” (82). All of the creatures Alice encounters do tell her what to do, of course, but the fact that she had never been this ordered around before in her life seems odd. She lived during the Victorian Era, which is notorious for its obsession with rules and rule-following. She is a child living under so many rules that she must follow, and yet this dream land where rules barely exist is where she has felt the most oppressed. The commas feel parodic, as if Carroll is making fun of the childish over-exaggeration of most events.

Of course, there are many rules in Wonderland, though the rules make no sense. In all of the games Alice plays, the rules seem to be written as the game progresses. As the caucus run commences, there is no knowledge as to where to go. People merely run as they please and there is no reason as to when the race concludes. This could be a comment on a child’s view of arbitrary rules in Victorian society. These rules Alice must follow in the real world make no sense and seem to be made by the enforcers for their benefit. No matter where Alice goes, whether it be reality or Wonderland, she is ordered around.

The eventual reveal at the end of novel of Wonderland as merely a dream, though, could say a lot about the subconscious of Alice. In her dreams, she is ruled about yet when she wakes up she thinks about “what a wonderful dream it had been” (109). This constant enforcement of rules was not a nightmare for Alice. She in fact enjoyed being told by scary figures what to do and where to go. Rule following has become ingrained in Alice’s psyche. She enjoys following the rules and doing what she is told. She enjoys it so much she dreams about it. Though the rules seem to make no sense and have a logic very different from reality, they still have a “logistical order” that Alice tries to figure out. For Alice, the more absurd and enforcing a rule is, the more wonderful.

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