But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!" (Carroll, 8) Carroll uses Alice's experiences as a means to persuading his readers to demand similar questions of themselves.
At this juncture, we are unclear on Carroll's motives in altering Alice's perspective. However, as she descends deeper into Wonderland, she finds this knowledge is invaluable for recognizing its inherent absurdity and disorder. These are features which may be said to apply to the 'real world' from which Alice has descended, but it is only with the shift in perspective that each allegory in his narrative allows that she may actually recognized the absurdity of the society she had accepted.
Alice's revelations are in the area of self-awareness whereas Shakespeare navigates us through the revelations produced in the confusion of love and courtship. The messy situation which is produced in both human and supernatural context reveals the vulnerability even of the fairies to romantic impulses beyond their control. These are interceded in both the waffling quartet of lovers and the incongruous amour between Titania and Bottom, each a perverse exploration of lust now unrestrained by the consideration of society. A blindness shrouds all those affected by love, either simulated by the symptoms of the flower or genuine. Though there is evidence that Shakespeare intends to depict the fairies as being somehow more sensible, Titania proves herself to be no match for the effects of the love potion, and finds herself quite at the mercy of Oberon. The fairy king, upon tangling the web of circumstances seemingly beyond resolution, determines, "I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy; / And then I will her charmed eye release / From monster's view, and all things shall be peace." (Shakespeare, Act III, Scene II).
The play's supernatural affects are intercepted by a collision of the play's numerous plot strands, many of them distinctly human. And that seems to be a prime impetus of Shakespeare's pleasant production. Though a great many realities separate the plot from the subplot, the triple wedding in the court and the emergence of Titania and Oberan's theretofore repressed feelings, bring to bear a moral about love that endorses the institution of marriage. We find that in its absence, Shakespeare's work is troubled by the uncontrollable impulses of three cohabitating societies.
And if there is any question as to allegorical intention of Carrol's text, the author quite explicitly addresses it through a discourse between Alice and the Duchess. Herein, Alice is admonished that. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it." (Carroll, 59) Carroll equals himself to this claim, making it clear in eventuality that there is an actual purpose to Alice's adventures. With each experience, Alice finds herself edging toward a greater understanding of herself and, in turn, the society around her. Carroll's overarching message to his readers is that this will endow them with the power to ultimately control the realities of their world. By extension, this points a finger at the facade of the Victorian aristocracy and encourages that greater knowledge will cause us to grow to reject this facade. So is this demonstrated in the climactic moment of Alice's quest, where the Queen makes an assertion which Alice's new experiences allow her to reject:
'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first -- verdict afterwards.'
'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'
'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
'I won't!' said Alice.
'Off with her head!' The Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'" (Carroll, 83)
No sooner than Alice make that accusation than does the entire artifice of the Queen's authority come crashing down. Alice awakens with a fresh understanding of herself and her capacity to shape the terms of her own life. Carroll's innovation in Alice in Wonderland is in its disclosure of very complicated ideological and philosophical principles in a manner which makes them palatable to a broad audience.
In fact, this is a feature of both the works by Carroll and Shakespeare, who mutually explore the societies around them in a manner that feigns lightheardedness and humor. In actually both proceed with a more pressing intent to deconstruct the behaviors around them, one in 16th century England and the other in 19th century England. Though both use allegorical tangents in order to approach their larger themes, the two works taken together also demonstrate a shift in perspective. As Shakespeare uses his tangled web of lovers to critique social disorder and perhaps to suggest a distaste for a moral laxity concerning the taking of lovers outside the bonds of marriage, Carroll uses Alice's experience to suggest the need for a dismissal of social controls. These counterintuitive notions demonstrate the mutable nature of the allegorical device, which can be used from deeply antithetical perspectives in order to promote an honest discourse on the nature of social morality.
Carroll, L. (1865). Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. The Barta Press.
Empson, W. (1983). Alice in Wonderland: The Child as Swain. Literature and Psychoanalysis.
Kincaid, J.R. (1973). Alice's Invasion of Wonderland. Modern Language Association.
Olson, P. (1957). A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Meaning of Court Marriage. The Johns Hopkins University Press.