Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
Alice in one of John Tenniel's illustrations for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
|First appearance||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)|
|Last appearance||Through the Looking-Glass (1871)|
|Created by||Lewis Carroll|
Alice is a fictional character, the child protagonist of Lewis Carroll's children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871). The character has her origins in stories told by Carroll to the young Liddell sisters, Edith, Alice and Lorina, while rowing on the Isis with his friend Robinson Duckworth, and on subsequent rowing trips. Carroll wrote down the stories as Alice's Adventures Under Ground, which were later expanded into Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. While Alice takes her name from Alice Liddell's given name, it is controversial among scholars as to whether or not Alice can be identified as Alice Liddell. Often assumed by scholars to be seven years old in the first novel, Alice is seven and a half in the sequel. In a retrospective article, Carroll characterized her as "loving and gentle," "courteous to all," "trustful," and "wildly curious".
Alice debuted in Lewis Carroll's first draft of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice's Adventures Under Ground (1864). According to Carroll, Under Ground originated from stories told to the Liddell sisters during an afternoon[nb 1] on 4 July 1862 while rowing on the Isis with his friend Robinson Duckworth, and on subsequent rowing trips. At the request of ten-year-old Alice Liddell, Carroll wrote down the stories as Alice's Adventures Under Ground, which he completed in February 1864. Under Ground contains thirty-seven illustrations, and as his drawings of Alice bears little physical resemblance to Alice Liddell, whose given name she shares, biographer Anne Clark has suggested that Alice's younger sister, Edith, might have been Carroll's model. Carroll portrays his protagonist as wearing a tunic, in contrast to the "fitted children's dresses with soft trim" that the Liddell sisters might have worn. According to Jeffery Stern, Carroll's illustrations drew influence from the Pre-Raphaelite painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) and Arthur Hughes (1832-1915), whose painting Girl with the Liliacs (1863) he possessed and visually alluded to in one drawing in Under Ground. Carroll gave the hand-written Alice's Adventures Under Ground to Alice Liddell in November 1864.
John Tenniel (1820-1914) illustrated Alice Adventures in Wonderland (1865) for a fee of £138, which was roughly a fourth of what Carroll earned each year and which he paid for himself. Tenniel, who was forty-four years old at the time, was an already successful, well-known lead illustrator for the satirical magazine Punch, when Carroll employed him as an illustrator in April 1864. Tenniel took a drastic departure from Carroll's original illustrations, although Carroll carefully oversaw his work. Among Carroll's suggestions was that Alice should have long, light-colored hair. Tenniel's depiction of Alice has its origins in a physically similar character which appeared in at least eight cartoons in Punch, during a four-year period that began in 1860. In an 1860 cartoon, this character wore "the full skirt, pale stockings, flat shoes, and a hairband over her loose hair." The character served as "one of Tenniel's prototypical representations of a nice middle-class girl," according to scholar Will Brooker. Alice's clothes are typical of what a girl belonging to the middle class in the mid-Victorian era might have worn at home. In The Nursery "Alice" (1890), (Carroll's adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for very young readers, with colored illustrations by Tenniel) Alice is blonde and her dress is yellow, with blue stockings; The Nursery "Alice" marked the first time that Tenniel's illustrations had been colored.
Tenniel's fee for illustrating the sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1871) rose to £290, which Carroll again paid for out of his own pocket. Tenniel changed Alice's clothing slightly in the sequel, where she wears horizontal-striped stockings instead of plain ones and has a more ornate pinafore with a bow. The headband that she wears in Tenniel's illustrations is called an "Alice band", after the character. Her clothing as a queen and in the railway carriage is a " 'polonaise' dress" with a bustle, which would have been fashionable at the time. The clothing worn by the characters in "My First Sermon" (1863) by pre-Raphaelite painter John Millais and "The Travelling Companions" (1862) by Victorian painter Augustus Leopold Egg have some elements in common with Alice's clothing in the railway carriage. Carroll felt that Tenniel's depiction of Alice lacked proper proportions, with her "head decidedly too large and feet decidedly too small", as a result of Tenniel's refusal to use a model.
Scholars debate whether or not that the character of Alice can be identified as Alice Liddell. Some biographies, such as Morton N. Cohen's Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1995), identify the character as Liddell, writing that Liddell was Carroll's muse whom he loved. Others, such as Karoline Leach's In the Shadow of the Dreamchild (1999), suggest that Carroll considered Alice and Liddell to be separate entities and that he was never in love with Liddell. According to Carroll, his character was not based on any real child, but was entirely fictional.
In Alice' Adventures in Wonderland, which takes place on 4 May (the birthday of Liddell) the character has been suggested to be seven years old by several scholars, although Carroll does not give the year which the story takes place; Alice gives her age as seven and a half in the sequel, which takes place on 4 November. In the text of the two Alice books, Carroll often did not remark on the physical appearance of his protagonist, offering only "very few details". Details of her fictional life can be discovered from the text of the Alice books, such as that her governess teaches her lessons starting at nine in the morning.
When writing on her personality in "Alice on the Stage" (April 1887), Carroll described her as "loving and gentle," "courteous to all," "trustful," and "wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names — empty words signifying nothing!" According to literary critic Valerie Krips, "Alice is a seditious character when compared to the children who precede her in books written for children. She cries, displays temper, is forthright, finds things and people tiresome—and says so—yet she always remembers her manners and speaks tenderly of her cat, Dinah." Commentators characterize her as "innocent", "imaginative," introspective, and "witty and intelligent". Others see less positive traits in Alice, writing that she frequently shows "casual cruelty" in her conversations with the animals in Wonderland, takes violent action against the character Bill the Lizard by kicking him into the air, and reflects her social upbringing in her lack of sensitivity and her "rude" replies.
Set in summer, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland opens with Alice on the riverbank with her elder sister. She falls down a rabbit hole into Wonderland after following the White Rabbit. Meeting many characters and changing her size several times, she eventually finds herself at the trial of the Knave of Hearts as a witness. Ordered to leave by the King and Queen of Hearts, Alice argues with them, eventually claiming that they are just a pack of cards. As they swarm her, Alice awakens on the riverbank and realizes that it was just a dream.
Set during autumn, Through the Looking Glass begins with Alice indoors as she plays with the kittens of her pet cat, Dinah. Through a mirror, she travels to Looking-Glass Land, an alternate world where chess pieces are alive. Encountering various characters, she eventually becomes a queen, and attends a party celebrating her coronation, although it quickly grows chaotic. Grabbing and shaking the Red Queen, Alice awakens back indoors, holding one of the kittens. The novel concludes with Alice's speculation on whether or not it was her dream or the Red King's.
The expiration of the copyright of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1907 resulted in eight new printings, among them one illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). His Alice was modelled after Doris Dormett. His art-nouveau illustrations sparked controversy among reviewers as to whether they were a better or worse interpretation of Carroll's work. Other notable illustrators include Peter Newell (1901), who used monochrome; Mabel Lucie Atwell (1910); Harry Furniss (1926); and Willy Pogany (1929), who featured an art deco style.
Notable illustrators from the 1930s onwards include Edgar Thurstan (1931), and his visual allusions to the Wall Street Crash of 1929; D.R. Sexton (1933) and J. Morton Sale (1933), both of whom featured an older Alice; Mervyn Peake; Ralph Steadman (1967), for which he received the Francis Williams Memorial award in 1972; Salvador Dali (1969), who used surrealism; and Peter Blake with his watercolors (1970). By 1972, there were ninety illustrators of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and twenty-one of Through the Looking-Glass. Among the notable illustrators of Alice in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s are Barry Moser (1982); Greg Hildebrandt (1990); David Frankland (1996); Lisbeth Zwerger (1999), who used watercolors in her adaptation; Helen Oxenbury (1999), who won two awards, the Kurt Maschler Award in 1999 and the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000, for her work; and DeLoss McGraw (2001), who used an "abstract style".
Parodies and inspired works
During the half century after the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "almost two hundred literary imitations, revisions, and parodies" appeared. They featured one or more protagonists with characteristics similar to Alice's ("typically polite, articulate, and assertive"), regardless of gender. Notable revisions which explore the Victorian ideas on gender and childhood and feature protagonists "who demonstrate power over their fantasy adventures" include Mopsa the Fairy (1869) by Jean Ingelow, Speaking Likeness (1874) by Christina Rossetti, Wanted—A King; or How Merle Set the Nursery Rhymes to Right (1890) by Maggie Brown, and A New Alice in an Old Wonderland (1895) by Anna M. Richards. Imitations inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and part of Carroll's collection of books similar to his Alice ones include From Nowhere to the North Pole (1874) by Tom Hood and Mabel in Rhymeland; or, Little Mabel's Journey to Norwich, and Her Wonderful Adventures with the Man in the Moon and other Heroes and Heroines of Nursery Rhyme (1885) by Edward Holland. Among the recreations that use sentimentality are Davy and the Goblin (1885) by Charles E. Carryl and New Adventures of "Alice" (1917) by John Rae, while the parodies, which were for adult readers, include The Westminster Alice (1900–02) by Saki, Clara in Blunderland (1902) by Caroline Lewis, and Alice in the Delighted States (1928) by Edward Hope.
After the early 1930s, when the Alice books were considered to be serious, literary works for adults by modernists, fewer parodies and inspired works appeared. According to scholar Carolyn Sigler, subsequent works inspired by the Alice books tended to be for adult readers, which "refer[...] minimally or obliquely to the Alice books"; examples include Dreamhouse (1995) by Alison Habens, Alice in Thunderland (1993) by Maeve Kelly, and Alice in Bed (1993) by Susan Sontag.
The first public stage adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland, debuted at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London, England, on 17 April 1876, and continued until 19 August. The musical Alice in Wonderland, a Dream Play for Children, in two acts, an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, appeared on 23 December 1886 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, and continued until 18 March 1887, to good reviews; it starred Phoebe Carlo as Alice. The musical was later revived and performed at the Globe Theatre from 26 December 1888 to 9 February 1889, with Carroll's friend, Isa Bowman, as Alice. The musical was frequently revived during the "Christmas season," being produced eighteen times from 1898 to 1930. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has since been adaptated for various forms of the stage, including "ballets, operas, experimental theatre, Broadway musicals, puppet plays, mime acts, and rock musicals."
Film and television
Directed and produced by Cecil Hepworth, the first film adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland debuted in Great Britain in 1903 as a silent film and in January 1904 in the United States. It starred May Clark as Alice. Two more silent film adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were produced: one in 1910 starring Gladys Hulette, and another in 1915 with Viola Savory as Alice. Ruth Gilbert starred as Alice in the first Alice film with sound (1931), followed by Charlotte Henry (1933), and Carol Marsh (1948), and Kathryn Beaumont voiced her in the Walt Disney's film (1951). Alice has also been portrayed by Fiona Fullerton (1972), Amelia Shankley and Coral Browne (1985), Kristyna Kohoutova (1988), and Mia Wasikowska (2010). Actors who portrayed or voiced Alice in television-film adaptations include Janet Waldo (1966), Anne-Marie Malik (1966), Natalie Gregory (1985), and Tina Majorino (1999).
Alice has appeared in video games. In American McGee's Alice (2000), Alice appears as the protagonist and player character, a psychologically traumatized young woman who returns to a corrupted Wonderland after being sent to an insane asylum, while in its sequel, Alice: Madness Returns (2011), Alice, still traumatized by the loss of her family, seeks the truth behind their deaths in Wonderland and London.
The Walt Disney version of Alice is present in the first installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, as a non-player character. In the 2003 video game, she is the protagonist of Alice in the Country of Hearts, a reimagining of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
The character of Alice has appeared in other literature, besides Carroll's novels. The premise of the young-adult fiction The Looking Glass Wars series is that its warrior-princess protagonist and rightful heir to the throne of Wonderland, Alyss Heart, fled to Victorian England from Wonderland, where she met Lewis Carroll and told him her story, which he turn into a nonsensical fairy tale. In Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's pornographic graphic novel Lost Girls (1991), she appears as Alice Fairchild, a central character. Manga (Japanese comics) adaptions or reimaginings of the Alice books include Miyuki-chan in Wonderland and Key Princess Story: Eternal Alice Rondo.
Alice has been described as a cultural icon. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass were critically and commercially successful in Carroll's lifetime; more than 150,000 copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and 100,000 copies of Through the Looking-Glass had been printed by 1898. Since then, the Alice books have continued to remained in print and "have been translated into more than seventy languages".
Alice's continuing appeal has been discussed by critics. Biographer Morton N. Cohen suggested that an underlying subject of the Alice books is maturity; he writes that children can identify with Alice, and as she becomes more self-confident through her encounters with "a hostile, unpredictable environment," she gains "advancement, recognition, [and] acceptance" and the books ultimately reassure the child that he or she can mature into an adult. According to literary critic Valerie Krips, Alice is familiar and unchanging for adult readers, as well as a reminder of the bygone Victorian era and a lost childhood, during which they discovered the Alice books, which their parents enjoyed.
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- Character description of Alice
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