‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the World Around It

An Article on ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the Influences, Psychology, and Philosophy Around It

The Many Versions of Alice

Alice in the Country of Joker

Joker no Kuni no Alice or Alice in the Country of Joker is one installment in the 'no Kuni no Alice' series. The author, QuinRose, and illustrator, Mamenosuke Fujimaru, worked together to put a new twist on the classic Alice in Wonderland in a shoujo style manga. It takes the characters that everyone knows and loves and gives them a sexy personified existence. The beloved series first appeared February 5th, 2013, published by Seven Seas Publishing and soon became a fan favourite. (Source)

In this series of Alice in the Country of Joker; Circus and Liar's Game (F1) Alice finds new secrets and the mysterious Joker shows up followed by the Warden, the Joker’s sinister double. This series follows Alice’s choice of staying in Wonderland and possibly romancing Blood (the Mad Hatter) or the Joker/Warden. Although, in Alice in the Country of Joker; The Nightmare Trilogy, it explores Alice romancing Nightmare, Lizard. or Warden while still struggling to uncover the Joker’s secret and how it affects her. (Source)

Alice in the Country of Joker is a follow up to Alice in the Country of Clover and Alice in the Country of Hearts (F2), though the brilliant mind of QuinRose created it so it can be read separately. The Nightmare Trilogy only has three books but Circus and Liar’s game has seven. This series includes and anime in the Alice in the Country of Hearts route which has been circulating around the internet. Though these series have a smaller fan base there is no doubt in saying that these series are an up and coming item. (Source)

The manga was such a hit that they also included a video game (F3). In this game you get to follow the romance style and play as Alice, falling through Wonderland. With multiple endings and every choice leading you to a new ending, you can romance your favorite characters.

The culture around the manga/anime hasn’t slowed down including cosplay and LARP sessions around the show (F4).

The Movies

In the 1930s, Walt Disney tried to produce the film Alice in Wonderland but was unsuccessful. The idea was revived during the 1940s. Originally, it was intended to be a live-action and animated film but in 1946 it was decided that it should be an all animated film. On its original release it was critically panned but later became a cult classic. Now it is regarded as Disney’s greatest animated work and the best adapted version of Alice in film. The theme song for the film, appropriately named "Alice in Wonderland," is now a jazz standard. (Source)

The film included stars such as Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter, Jerry Colonna as March Hare, Richard Haydn as Caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat, Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts, Bill Thompson as White Rabbit/The Dodo and Heather Angel as Alice's sister. Of course Disney decided to stick closer to the book, including all the classic beloved characters. (Source)

In 2010, Alice in Wonderland hit the big screens once again with Tim Burton's adaptation. The film was officially released on March 5th, 2010 and released on DVD and Blu-ray June 1st, 2010. With Tim’s unique look on the wacky world of Wonderland it was no surprise to learn this film was actually a continuation of the books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. (Source)

Tim, of course, brought his two favorite accomplices to the film with him, Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims, the Red Queen. The film also included other stars such as Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen, Alan Rickman as Absalom the Caterpillar, Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit, Stephen Fry as Chessur, the Cheshire Cat, Timothy Spall as Bayard Hamar, the Bloodhound, Crispin Glover as Ilosovic Stayne, the Knave of Hearts, Christopher Lee as The Jabberwocky, Paul Whitehouse as Thackery Earwicket, the March Hare, Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Mairi Ella Challen as Young Alice Kingsley. (Source)

The franchise will be built onto with Tim’s newest film Alice in Wonderland Through the Looking Glass. This film will be came out in 2016 with many returning stars from the original film. It is was largely anticipated by the fans. (Source)


Image courtesy of Google Images 

“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

- Morticia Addams

Alice in Wonderland explores many different aspects of philosophy. Although Carroll mainly uses Plato’s theories as his basis, it would be foolish to say that other philosophers did not have a great influence in his work. Carroll has also greatly influenced philosophers, mainly in the argument of reality. Carroll was a highly educated Englishman who studied the classics and Greek literature in school. This led him to have a very interesting outlook when it came to his writing. For instance, there is no way he could not have known about the Socrates trial, which is displayed in the trial of Alice (Knepp, 48).

Alice in Wonderland has found a balance between the two worlds, setting up almost a mirror of ours but with wacky and strange characters. For instance, Alice’s body growing and shrinking at alarming rates could be compared to the human body growing and shrinking over an extended period of time. As the Cheshire Cat explains to Alice things in Wonderland are are very contrary to what she believes reality is. In the question of reality is one Simon Blackburn has an answer to. (Source)

Simon Blackburn states that in order to begin finding reality you must first compare two extremely similar things. Alice constantly compares Wonderland and England. According to Blackburn, she had the right to think her actions would lead to the same consequences in her reality as in Wonderland. Blackburn believed that we need to infer based on direct observation our experience of our explanation. Blackburn's theory plays on theological argument. Due to both worlds being made of the same material, Alice could have never concluded that she was no longer in her reality. Because of this, it can be assumed that the two are almost identical and, in actuality, both our reality and Wonderland are real due to both being intellectually designed. (Source)

Image courtesy of Google Images 

   There is a type of philosophy called epistemological idealism (sources and justification of knowledge) and metaphysical antirealism (perceptions/ideals only source of knowledge) which deals with our reality in perception. Metaphysical antirealism has the strange theory that nothing outside of our perceptions is real thus thinking after the human species dies the world ceases to exist. The idealist believes that perception is only one source of knowledge but they get caught on the fact that humans are "stuck inside themselves." One can’t leave one's body to see if one's perception is correct. Alice keeps mixing the two theories throughout the book. For instance how pebbles turned into cake. From Alice’s perspective the pebbles were in fact pebbles. However what if they had always been cake? The same could be said for the Duchesse and her baby. The baby could have always been a pig and Alice simply perceived it as a baby. Alice, at the end with her wonderings, believes that there is a real world out there. She can’t say which world is actually reality since the only thing she justifies it with is the material objects that she perceives. (Arp, 76)

Alice has the chance to play with reality while she is in Wonderland. She tries to apply her logic to the world, as Blackburn states is acceptable but in the end she starts to give into Wonderlands logic. Alice is willing to play with her reality and change her logic in this world. She finds the mushroom is dual sided for shape changing (one side shrinks while one grows) and uses it to her advantage and that you must go the opposite way to end up where you want. But she still wants to apply sense and logic to a world of nonsense. Eventually Alice stopped thinking things were impossible, giving into the madness of Wonderland as we must all do in a strange new place. Which finds the philosophers logical possibilities and impossibilities. David Hume says there are two possible logic, matters of fact and relations of ideas (pure logic or mathematics). Alice finds herself in the constant struggle of pure logic not existing in the way she assumes it would and working exactly how she does. For instance, she walks one way and stats back at the beginning then walks the way she didn’t want to go and finds herself there. Logical and illogical. And matters of fact where the impossible is impossible, ie a square circle. The circle can’t be square and a circle at the same time. Although Hume also believes that the contrary of every matter of fact is still possible. (Dunn, 100)

   Alice finds herself a witness to an insane trial at the end of the book. The Red Queen loses her temper and shouts the classic line “[off] with her head!” But the question is posed, was this the correct response or more nonsense? Thomas Hobbes has a theory of political philosophy and social contracts that can answer this. A social contract is a contract in which you have an implicit agreement to obey the laws unless you try to leave or change the law. (Knepp, 54) Hobbes's quote, “[and] covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all,” seems to fit this trial and court perfectly. He believed that in order to maintain social contracts, you must do so by a leader inciting fear into their subjects. This fits with the Red Queen when, for displeasing her in the smallest way, she beheads her subjects. (Knepp, 53)

Locke has a similar but different view. He thinks that social contracts can exist without fear. If you distribute the power so no one person has too much and give each individual rights then people will willingly stay in social contracts.(Knepp, 54) Although he does say that it would be better for one leader to have power in order to insure social contracts are kept. Locke’s view presents a problem though when because everyone has power the courts become useless due to them being unable to stop the powerful. (Knepp, 55)

Alice was attacked by the deck of cards after that fateful line was said. Of course she fought back, which is something not done when obeying social contracts. This brings us to the problem of Socrates. Socrates was put on trial for corrupting the youth which was punishable by death. Socrates believed that because he was born, raised, never tried to leave, change the laws or said he wouldn’t follow the law he was bound by a social contract to receive his punishment. Alice, on the other hand, was not born or raised in Wonderland. She did not willingly immigrate and instead fell into the world and was actively trying to leave the strange world. (Knepp, 56) Thus she wasn’t held accountable by law and did not hold a social contract. The court, trial, and laws were obsolete and her physically defending herself against the court was justified. (Knepp, 47) 


From the original work of Alice in Wonderland. Image courtesy of Google Images

Alice in Wonderland has had a lot of controversy around it on if Alice was in a dream or simply crazy. The book starts off with her sitting in a garden with her sister before deciding to follow a white rabbit with a pocket watch. The rabbit lead her down the rabbit hole which lead to her amazing and strange adventures. Although it is not known if she had only dreamt the adventure, there is no doubt that Alice in Wonderland is a book filled with psychological aspects.

In 1995 John Todd, a psychiatrist, reported that many patients feeling as if they were “opening up like a telescope.” This later became known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or AIWS is a curious syndrome that mainly appears in children, though there have been chronic cases. (Source) This syndrome can be compared to fun house mirrors where images or body parts appear upside down, larger or smaller and closer or further away that they are in reality. These perceptions are found to be more common at night. Although the exact cause is not known migraine, Epstein-barr-virus infections, temporal lobe epilepsy, psychoactive drugs, and or brain tumors are commonly linked to the syndrome. Currently, there is no proven effective treatment for AIWS. The treatments now consist of migraine prophylaxis and migraine dieting. (Source)

Some patients report time loss or hallucinations. Although most physicians don’t know about this strange syndrome, it can become very dangerous. The more the visual perception is changed the more the tactile and auditory is changed. The migraines and temporal lobe epilepsy are the most common trigger of the syndrome, which can cause visual derangement, hemicranial headache, nausea, and vomiting. Lewis Carroll’s diaries hint at him having this strange syndrome with frequent migraines. This led people to believe that he used his own experiences to create the classic series. (Source)

A neurologist named Grant Liu’s research suggests that the cause of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can be pinned to abnormal activity in the parietal lobes. The parietal lobes are responsible for spacial awareness. Neurosciences are trying to use this syndrome to find more about how we create our sense of the here and now as well as self. (Source)

Image from Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Image courtesy of Google Images

   Dreams are considered to be such a big part of Alice in Wonderland that it was no surprise when neuroscientists took the classic book and turned it into a learning experience. They believe that our brain consolidated memories then builds bigger stories by forming links between the different events. This is why, like Alice, we have loss of time and morphing images in our dreams. For instance when Alice meets the Duchess and her baby the baby morphs into a pig. (Source)

The beloved character, the Jabberwocky, has also created its own name in psychology forming Jabberwocky sentences. This is used by neuroscientists to prove that the grammar and meaning of words are processed separately in the brain. Scientists use sentences like “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe…” from Alice in Wonderland to show, in a brain scan, where the parts of the sentence is processed. It is not clear as to why Carroll used such a sentence or what effect he wanted it to have but it is clear that Kurt Cobain used the same technique in Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit." (Source)

Eleanor Maguire uses the White Queen and her strange form of foresight to decide how we act in the future. Eleanor says “Since the mid-2000's neurosciences started to realize that memory is not really about the past, it’s about helping you act appropriately in the future.” She claims that in order to act appropriately in the future we must first look at our past to help us decide what to do next. One possibility is that we create a montage out of our memories, pulling them apart to do so, in order to help us imagine new scenarios. This is possibly proven by Eleanor with her study in hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area that stores memories of our past. She found that those with damage to this part of the brain have trouble thinking of the future. (Source)

Image courtesy of Google Images

On the other hand, children who play pretend a lot tend to have a better understanding of people’s intentions and motives. They are better at hypothetical thinking and theory of mind. Carroll, who was also a magician, is thought to have developed these skills as a child. Thus bringing us Alice in Wonderland. This book seems to be helping others improve their brains as well. According to Travis Proulx of Tilburg University, reading absurd and surreal literature has the same effects of playing pretend as a child. It makes us quicker to learn new ideas, our brains more flexible and creative by defying the brain’s expectations in this alien world. Hallucinatory drugs would also bring you to the same state but reading is considered safer. (Source)

Humpty Dumpty played a big part in the nature of words. For example “handsome shape” can be connected to dual worded phrases like Humpty Dumpty. This is a philosophical statement that dates back to Plato. However in psychology it was proven that there is innate meaning in sounds of the words, instead of the words simply being arbitrary as previously believed. For instance the word “kick” and “bounce” would be associated to two different objects. People mostly associate kick with a sharp object and bounce with a rounded or soft one. This is due to the sharper sound that kick has compared to bounce. This situation is how you can sometimes accurately guess words in a different language or even influence nicknames based on characteristics of that person. Some speculate that this type of reaction can be dated back to mankind's first words. (Source)


Image courtesy of Google Images

“I imagine that right now you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Tumbling down the rabbit-hole? …. You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes” -Morpheus to Nero in The Matrix

Alice in Wonderland has been referenced or influenced in many films, songs, books, and art since it came out. For instance, the two movies previously talked about have been influenced by the classic novel. For instance the quote above from The Matrix references Alice and Wonderland as being inside the matrix and the decision to wake up and, like Alice believe that it was all a dream, or exploring Wonderland.

In the music industry JEWEL released an album titled Goodbye Alice in Wonderland. Other artists such as Neil Sedaka, Machine Gun Kelly, Johnny Mathis, Alex Johnson, Wynter Gordon have made songs titled "Alice in Wonderland." These songs span multiple genres such as rap, rock, soul, jazz, pop, and many more. (Source) David Del Tredici is one artist who seemed especially interested in the Alice in Wonderland novels creating music titled: An Alice Symphony, Final Alice, Child Alice, and Haddock's Eyes. All of these works either reference, incorporate texts or are influenced by Lewis Carroll’s books. (Source)

Many authors have also been inspired by the series and written their own interpretation, continuation, and retellings of the books. Lewis Carroll himself even shortened the books into a child friendly version titled The Nursery “Alice.” Anna M Richards created a new Alice to fall through the rabbit hole and go on her adventure, including meeting new characters. Aubrey Mayhew wrote her own parody in which a girl meets Imps who educate her on grammar. John Rea incorporated Alice by making his main character dream of finding a third book in the classic series. In this Alice meets characters from the Mother Goose rhymes while in Wonderland.(Source) Many other authors have used Carroll’s books to inspire their own. Louise Franklin Bache, Ernest Laprade, Shen Congwen, and manga artist Ai Ninomiya and QuinRose are just a few examples.(Source)

Alice has inspired many artistic pieces since she fell into Wonderland. Charles Blackman, for instance, painted forty six paintings of the characters from only listening to the audio book. All Saints Church created many stain glass windows depicting Alice and her story. Central Park has statues of the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and Alice in the south-east. Warrington in Cheshire also has statues of the characters, the town being the closest town to where Lewis Carroll grew up. Salvador Dalí created twelve paintings on Alice in Wonderland. Frederick Morgan painted a girl surrounded by white rabbits titled “Feeding the Rabbits” which sometimes is referenced to as “Alice in Wonderland”. (Source)


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“Parodies of Alice in Wonderland – an Illustrated Bibliography.” google sites. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2016. <https://sites.google.com/site/parodiesofaliceinwonderland/>.

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Robson, David. “Five Things Alice in Wonderland Reveals about the Brain.” BBC. N.p., 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 May 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150225-secrets-of-alice-in-wonderland>.

“SERIES: Alice in the Country of Joker.” Seven Seas Entertainment. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2016. <http://www.gomanga.com/books/alice-in-the-country-of-joker/95>.

Strobing, Samantha. “The Philosophy of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.’” HubPages. N.p., 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 31 May 2016. <http://hubpages.com/education/The-Philosophy-of-Alices-Adventures-in-Wonderland>.

Weissenstein, Anne, Elisabeth Luchter, and Stefan Bittmann. “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Rare Neurological Manifestation with Microscopy in a 6-year-old Child.” US National Library of Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 June 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4302569/>

“Works Based on Alice in Wonderland.” Wikipedia. N.p., 7 June 2015. Web. 9 June 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_based_on_Alice_in_Wonderland#Classical_music_and_opera

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