Alice to Extent Alice Considered Role-Model Young Essay
- Length: 9 pages
- Sources: 8
- Subject: Sports - Women
- Type: Essay
- Paper: #96944390
Excerpt from Essay :
To extent Alice considered role-model young women? According 2 Alice novels: Alice's adventures Wonderland through Looking Glass
Lloyd contends that "the 145-year-old story by Lewis Carroll and the story's heroine, a seven-year-old girl, has much to teach twenty-first century young women."
According to Lloyd "Alice's direct, candid approach to life is something to which today's college-aged women relate. They understand the story of a young woman who has the world before her, ready to embark on life, who changes herself, primarily by eating and drinking, to fit in. She encounters all types, tests herself, tastes life around her, and once she learns the right combination to fit in and be comfortable with her, she's welcomed into a beautiful world where she possesses wisdom, power, and prestige."
Among children literature, two books by Carroll known as Alice books were received by the public as simple children's literature. While they did not garner critical acclaim, they were popular enough among the young to be a commercial success and to remain continuously in print. Almost immediately following publication, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland found itself placed as an icon of children's literature and it spawned a whole genre of children's tales. The first adaptation of Alice appeared even before the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What. In this essay the author aims to assess to what extent Alice may be considered as a role model for young women in the context of Alice two novels; Alice's adventures Wonderland and Through Looking Glass
Role of Alice in "Alice in wonderland" and "through Looking Glass"
Young Women characteristics as presented in the Literature
In this book Alice has been presented as an innocent girl and an ideal girl with the characteristics people want to see in young women. Historian Deborah Gorham (1982) asserts that, if the ideal Victorian woman was expected to be "dependent on men and submissive to them […], innocent, pure, gentle, and self-sacrificing," then the ideal Victorian girl could fulfill the feminine role even more thoroughly, since the emphasis on innocence and passivity was clearly contradicted by the active parenting and sexual experience of the adult married woman: "Much more successfully than her mother, a young girl could represent the quintessential angel in the house. Unlike an adult woman, a girl could be perceived as a wholly unambiguous model of feminine dependence, childlike simplicity and sexual purity"(Kincaid, 1992). Far from being blank slates waiting to be inscribed, however, the girl-children in Alice's Adventures quest for identity and experience. As figures for writers, storytellers, readers, lovers of texts, these girls are seduced by and seduce through the pharmakon, the metaphor Derrida chooses to represent writing, due to the dangerous pleasures its doubled definition ("cure" and "poison") suggests. The pharmakon in these texts appears as a drug-figure that entices the girls to stray from conventional femininity into a land of textual uncertainty and linguistic play. Because of their place as both female and children, though -- and because their stories are about the growth of a girl into a woman or "self" -- the problem of who or what controls their bodies becomes of significant interest in the texts; Alice's famously rapid size changes reveal a fascination with the connections and disruptions between the body and the imagination.
The girls in Alice's Adventures behave naughtily -- straying from their families, exploring the world sensually, ignoring good advice, and generally resisting the logic presented to them. Yet the drug as cover for bad behavior, while important, is not the only reason to pair the figure of the opiate with the figure of the girl; after all, until they are domesticated into womanhood One of the many reasons Alice stands out as a fictional character, enduring as an icon even now in the twenty-first century, lies in the way the text depicts her as exhibiting a surprising amount of freedom, courage, and tenacity, even as it constructs her within girlhood (and future womanhood). Alice defies the typical standards for Victorian heroines in her own way. The lack of mastery that characterizes Alice's adventures does not preclude agency. Though at times petulant, frustrated, and even whiney, Alice never laments her decision to follow the White Rabbit and never makes it her goal to return home, though she does eventually end up there.(Carrol, 2000) Though she sometimes seeks direction and seems more interested in arriving at destinations than in the journey that leads to them, she is also clearly motivated by a desire to something interesting, as evidenced in her request for directions from the Cheshire Cat:
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where," said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you walk," said the Cat.
" -- so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure enough to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk far enough!"
Alice felt this could not be denied […] (Slick, 1967)
Alice's lack of preference for where she goes confirms her as a wanderer, "burning with curiosity," moving indiscriminately from place to place, moment to moment, as one leads to another (Richard, 1995). Her one passion seems to be new sights and experiences; after leaving the Cheshire Cat, she decides between visiting the Mad Hatter and the March Hare by choosing which one seems more unusual: "I've seen hatters before,' she said to herself; 'the March Hare will be much the most interesting'" (Auerbach, 1973. P. 66). Of course, her decision makes no difference, as they both end up at the tea party, but her desire to see the more interesting" of the two is one of the few consistencies in the text. Alice's curiosity, her tendency to be, as Robert Hornback (1993) calls her, "game for anything," lends her a larger than-life iconic status that seeps well beyond the pages of her narrative; an icon for female exploration and courage, Alice has been cheekily called by one critic "the hippest girl in Victorian England, the first postmodern heroine" (Moore back matter, 2006. P. 10).
Curiosity itself requires a paradoxical tendency toward both passivity and activity: the curious person at once actively seeks knowledge, but also passively follows the lead of the text rather than somehow overpowering, mastering, or succeeding at it. Though the curious often end up acquiring the sought-after knowledge, success is not necessarily the result or even the intention of the curious, as the curious often seek and question for the very sake of perpetuating curiosity. Curiosity can also be a dangerous activity, particularly for women; Hilary Schor (2005) writes, "From at least Milton onwards female curiosity has been a powerful and rather terrifying force; and in the nineteenth century, […] stories of female curiosity carry with them an equally terrifying prohibition" (238). This terrifying power derives from the fear of a woman acquiring knowledge -- particularly as a threat to patriarchy -- but an additionally terrifying aspect of Alice is her willing subjection to Wonderland. Schor's argument about curiosity hinges on the double-meaning of the word "curious," as both "inquisitive" and "strange," a double meaning Carroll certain plays on numerous times when he calls Alice a "curious child." In one such passage, the text intimates Alice's doubleness and the incoherence of her above-ground identity, describing how she is given both to punishing and playing tricks on herself: "once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people" (18). Thus Alice occupies a doubled, sometimes even paradoxical state: she is active and passive, punisher and punished, trickster and dupe, child and woman, inquisitive and strange, subject and subjected. Auerbach (1973) writes that "Alice is simultaneously Wonderland's slave and its queen, its creator and destroyer as well as its victim" (49). There is something paradoxically freeing and confining in this doubled, uniquely feminine position -- and both its freedom and its confinement carries terrifying possibilities. It is difficult to imagine Alice as a male character, not only because of Carroll's professed adoration of girls and dislike for boys, but also because one imagines a male character would generally be seeking some purpose, some conquering mission, or at the very least a battle. For all of its danger and sexual connotation, wandering through Wonderland is a distinctly feminine activity, one that both complies with certain assumptions about femininity and, under the cover of those assumptions, subverts them. Alice's (often misguided) attempts at politeness, combined with social assumptions about the passivity of girls, allow Alice to submit to dreams and drugs and writing, which in turn provide an alibi for her active but not goal-driven explorations.
In his Derridean reading of the Alice books, Julian Wolfreys (1997) conceptualizes identity as a kind of external structure, as architecture, and posits that Alice…