Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is often misunderstood as simply a journey to a dream world generated by Alice’s imaginations. As a result, the books transport the reader to a Wonderland devoid of any link to life. In reality, Matthews defines Wonderland as a place dominated by incoherence and nonsense to the point that the reader loses track of time (Matthews, p105). It is important to remember, though, that the novel portrays some elements of the author’s period, which was the Victorian age in Britain. Furthermore, the novel’s ironic richness is undeniable. Needleless to mention, it is the application of such technique as a satire that makes an author’s work to stand out from the others. notably, Alice’s journey is characterized by diverse occurrences and the reference of these occurrences to Victorian Britain is in itself satirical. Some of the notable elements that make up Alice’s experiences relate to political and historical contexts. Essentially, these illustrate a satire built around British imperialism and ethnocentrism. A good illustration of this is made where Alice is unable to understand that Wonderland has its own unique set of values. Additionally, the British judicial system is satirized through the depiction of leaders in Wonderland specifically the Queen and King of hearts.
Besides the illustration of satire in the political context, social-cultural aspects are satirized in alice books as well. notably, the satire developed in this regard revolves around the rigid educational system which characterized the Victorian system in Britain. Additionally, the novel builds satire around social conventions and the forms of etiquette prevalent during the Victorian era. This satire is particularly well illustrated through the bizarre conversations that Alice gets into with the creatures in Wonderland. It is important to note that when Matthew describes the novel as being nonsensical, the connotations on this description is meant as a reflection of the widespread use of this word in the novel as opposed to its reference of the basic pejorative connotations of the word ‘nonsense’. In fact, Matthews proposes that considering the fact that ‘nonsense’ is a Victorian word for a Victorian Genre, it should be purged of its basic connotations (Matthews, p106). Notably, this word is widely used in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in efforts to further develop the satire in the books. Notably, Alice often tells the reader when something is nonsensical the main intent being to invoke humor as is the intention of satire. A good example is when she thinks to herself that she should buy her feet Christmas presents in order to control them but them exclaims at how nonsensical the idea sounds.
Just to reiterate, Alice in Wonderland depicts several aspects of Victorian Britain. As such, Caroll uses Alice and the nonsensical creatures in the books to satirize the Victorian society owing to the fact that accomplishing this within the confines of more serious writing could have been difficult. The Victorian society is largely depicted through satire in Alice in Wonderland to the extent that missing these depictions is virtually impossible. Further, in his article, Matthews proposes that the illustration of Alice as a norm and the embodiment of the (Victorian industry and practicality indicate that Alice’s books are riddled with satirical implications Matthews, p109). Mathew concurs that Caroll had something to say about the misuse of etiquette and pretentions of men in the Victorian era but he does so in a way that is humorous though the use of satire as opposed to illustrating such issues in a way that invokes contentious political debates.
Matthews, Charles. “Satire in the Alice Books.” Criticism 12.2 (1970): 105-119.