Is 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' a book for children or adults?

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Is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a book for children or for adults? You may discuss one or both of the Alice books.

‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ is a novel written by the English author Lewis Carroll in 1865, the story tells of a young girl named Alice following a talking white rabbit down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world full of amazing creatures and sights. This premise is very much one which seems typical of a piece of literature aimed at children, with it’s over the top characters and surreal atmosphere it is just as appealing to modern children as it was to the children of 1865. However if one were to look at the sub text, wordplay, philosophical ideas, character allusions or the huge amount of meaning within his story it is clear that Carroll did not just have a child audience in mind.

Alice in Wonderland is a book very much about the anxiety of Alice, she is often lost or bewildered trying to get in or out of some place or another.

“There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked; and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever going to get out again.” (Page 40, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1992)

This sense of anxiety is exciting for both audiences, young and old. Unlike some of the later literal themes and concepts which would go above the heads of most children this sense of urgency and frustration lends itself to the story as a powerful literary device for both adults and child readers.

Lewis Carroll also published another book based off of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ called ‘The Nursery Alice’ in 1890 which was not only illustrated in colour, but was also simplified and made easier for children to understand. It was made clear within the story that it’s a dream from the start.

“‘Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Alice: and she had a very curious dream. Would you like to hear what it was that she dreamed about?” (Macmillan Edition, 1890)

It is clear from the fact that Carroll published this book that he atleast acknowledged that the original wasn’t suitable for atleast some children.

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The 1951 animated disney screenplay of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ with a few additional elements from‘Through the Looking Glass’ was primarily designed by disney for children. With a lack of the more philosophically complex and logical dialogue it was created to entertain children, not unlike the original publication but with much of the subtext removed. However, the 2010 Tim Burton film version is more directed towards a mature audience, it tells the story of an older and more mature Alice about to marry someone who she’d rather not. Flashbacks are used to explain that she suffered from nightmares as a ...

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