Jump to content

Caterpillar (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alice character
The Caterpillar using a hookah; an illustration by John Tenniel. The illustration is noted for its ambiguous central figure, whose head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and protruding chin or being the head end of an actual caterpillar, with two "true" legs visible.[1]
First appearanceAlice's Adventures in Wonderland
Created byLewis Carroll
In-universe information
AliasHookah-Smoking Caterpillar, Absolem
NicknameThe Blue Caterpillar

The Caterpillar (also known as the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar) is a fictional character appearing in Lewis Carroll's 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

In the book[edit]

Introduced in Chapter Four ("Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill") and the main center of interest of Chapter V ("Advice from a Caterpillar"), the Caterpillar is a hookah-smoking caterpillar exactly 3 inches (7.6 cm) high (a height, the virtues of which, he defends against Alice's complaint). Alice does not like the Caterpillar when they first meet, because he does not immediately talk to her and when he does, it is usually in short, rather rude sentences, or difficult questions.

The original illustration by John Tenniel is something of a visual paradox, wherein the caterpillar's human face appears to be formed from the head and legs of a naturalistic caterpillar.[1]

In other media[edit]

The Caterpillar makes an appearance in many other works since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

Disney film[edit]

Blue Caterpillar
The Caterpillar as he appears in the 1951 Disney classic.
First appearanceAlice in Wonderland
Created byLewis Carroll
Voiced byRichard Haydn (original film)
Corey Burton (House of Mouse, 2001-present)

His memorable phrase is a breathy "Whooo ... are ... you?". In the Disney animated film, this line is visualised as exhalations of smoke in the shapes "O", "R" and "U". Alice remarks in the original that the Caterpillar will one day turn into a butterfly, and in both the 1999 television film and Disney's 1951 version he does so in Alice's presence. He is voiced by Richard Haydn.

The Caterpillar in the Disney film is a blue creature who, as in the original Tenniel illustration, smokes a hookah. He is seen as a very forthright character as he yells at Alice quite often during the scenes in which they both appear. He blows smoke in Alice's face and when she needs assistance he ignores her. He is a quite mean character providing little to no assistance to Alice and ends up confusing her more while she is trapped in Wonderland. He then ignores her and turns into a butterfly and flutters away not caring whether or not Alice makes it out alive. He also instructs her to eat a mushroom but does not say what it does thus putting her into possible danger. He briefly appears during the second caucus race. He reappears one final time during the ending chase, still in butterfly form but once again smoking on his hookah, and again ignoring Alice when she asks for his help escaping the Queen of Hearts.[2]

Tim Burton films[edit]

Alan Rickman voices the Caterpillar, who in this adaptation is named Absolem.[3] Rickman was filmed while recording his voice in a studio, but his face was not composited onto the character's face as originally planned.[4]

He appears five times in the movie. The first time is outside Wonderland, when a young man named Hamish Ascot is about to propose to Alice and she notices a blue caterpillar on his shoulder. The second time is when Nivens McTwisp the White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Mallymkun the Dormouse, and the Uilleam the Dodo consider Alice's identity, and they consult him. Absolem appears in a thick cloud of hookah smoke, which he blows at Alice. He appears again after Alice arrives at the White Queen's Castle, and again to remind Alice of her previous visit to Wonderland. He blows smoke at her twice this time, and Alice asks him to stop it. At the end of the movie, Absolem, as a butterfly, appears on Alice's shoulder as she sets off for China.

Rickman reprises the role in Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), though he remains a butterfly, leading Alice to the looking-glass portal to Underland and informing her that matters require her urgent attention. He isn't seen again for the rest of the film but makes a cameo in the credits. This was also Rickman's final film performance and the film is dedicated in his memory.

Once Upon a Time[edit]

In other media[edit]

  • The Caterpillar appeared in the 2004 novel The Looking-Glass Wars and he plays the role of an oracle.
  • In the 2009 SyFy TV miniseries Alice, the Caterpillar is the leader of the underground resistance to the Queen of Hearts.
  • In the Murdoch Mysteries TV show 2011 episode “Murdoch in Wonderland,” the titular character is framed for murder following an Alice in Wonderland themed costume party. The host, Constance Gardenier, dresses herself as the Caterpillar.
  • The Caterpillar appeared in the 2000 video game American McGee's Alice and its 2011 sequel Alice Madness Returns, voiced by Jarion Monroe. He is the wisest denizen in Wonderland and provides guidance to Alice in both games.
  • The Caterpillar makes a cameo appearance in the Sunsoft's 2006 mobile game Alice's Warped Wonderland (歪みの国のアリス, Yugami no kuni no Arisu, Alice in Distortion World). The Caterpillar appears only in one scenario branch of the bad endings, warning Ariko (the "Alice" of the game) that Cheshire Cat has become dangerous, but is shortly squished to death by Cheshire Cat. The Caterpillar takes the form of a miniature human man in a green sleeping bag.[5][6]
  • In several Marvel Comics stories featuring Doctor Strange, the magical entity Agamotto has appeared in a form resembling the Caterpillar.
  • In the 2003 horror crossover film Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy Krueger takes the form of the Caterpillar and smokes a hookah in Freeburg's dream.
  • In one episode of Ouran High School Host Club called "Haruhi in Wonderland", Kyoya Otori is dressed as the Caterpillar.
  • In the Ensemble Stars! DRAMATICA ACT 3 stage production "カラ降るワンダフル!", Madara Mikejima is portraying the Caterpillar.[7]


  1. ^ a b "And do you see its long nose and chin? At least, they look exactly like a nose and chin, don't they? But they really are two of its legs. You know a Caterpillar has got quantities of legs: you can see more of them, further down." Carroll, Lewis. The Nursery "Alice". Dover Publications (1966), p27.
  2. ^ "Caterpillar - Alice-in-Wonderland.net". Alice-in-Wonderland.net. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  3. ^ "Alice in Wonderland – Glossary of Terms/Script (early draft)" (PDF). Walt Disney Pictures. JoBlo.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2010. (early draft of the film script, first started Feb. 2007)
  4. ^ Topel, Fred (December 19, 2008). "Alan Rickman talks about Alice in Wonderland". Crushable.com. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
  5. ^ "Alice's Warped Wonderland". Sunsoft. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  6. ^ "Alice's Warped Wonderland ~Encore~". Sunsoft. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "カラ降るワンダフル!". ENSEMBLE SQUARE/劇団『ドラマティカ』製作委員会. Retrieved July 19, 2023.