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Satirical Social Construct Theories In Caroll's Wonderland

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The Victorian Era held many common beliefs that contrast to everything modern society holds as true.These beliefs ecompassed such areas as social theory, class differences, racial prejudices, the effect of capitalism in society, and the role and extent of education Lewis Carroll challenges and satirizes these social constructs in his novels Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by the use of fantasy characters and settings. He confronts the reader indirectly through Alice; as the fantasy world of Wonderland disobeys Alice's established views, so does it disobey the reader's views.

Throughout Alice in Wonderland, Alice interacts with things that are commonly seen in her Victorian world. Throught out the majority of both novel the inhabitants of Wonderland , who all have distinct personalities and the ability to communicate, dictate Alice's behavior. However, in the final scene of Wonderland Alice turns the table on the citizens of Wonderland. Rather than continuing to accept and comply with their behavior, she recognizes that they do not behave as they should in Victorian society. When she shouts to the army of cards that they are in fact nothing more than a mere pack of cards Alice immediately wakes up to find that she has returned from Wonderland. Once she treats the cards as she should in her own society, simply as objects, then Alice is allowed to return to her own world . She has learned the lesson that a girl in Victorian England must control the objects around her, rather than be controlled by them.

The actions of Alice at the end of Through the Looking Glass and Alice Wonderland references Carroll's views of Victorian education. Education plays a large role in the Alice books, contributing both to Carroll's characterization of Alice and of his perceptions of the common Victorian English citizen. Throughout the Alice books Alice alludes to her lessons and her education, usually very proud of all that she knows.. However, most of the time the information that she spurts out is either useless or absurd, for when she can recite exactly how many miles it is to the center of the earth she follows up with the comment of how funny it will be when she comes to the other side of the world and everything is upside down. She is quite often aware of her folly but her mistakes almost always go unnoticed by those around her and are always left uncorrected. Rather than emphasizing academic studies by having the event that enables Alice's return to England involve correcting her scholarly errors, Alice's return is initiated by a change in her attitude towards her material surroundings. Such a conscious

decision on Carroll's part satirizes his idea of education in Victorian society of the day. Carroll was some what amusemed at the trivial fashion of English education.

Traditional public schools in Victorian England emphasized Greek and Latin, house systems, school spirit, improving character, and that the goal of education was to mold the student into a young Christian gentleman. This approach can be seen in Alice, since her knowledge seems to consist mainly of maxims and morals about obedience and safety. In his satirical characterization of the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland Carroll once again mocks this system. Alice's experience with her makes the reader laugh at the absurdity of such a character. Carroll certainly made a conscious decision to make morals and tales of obedience, a large part of Victorian upbringing, nonsensical. This rejection of typical Victorian manners and education of children supports one of the themes in his Alice books, the idea that a child's imagination has value

As per any time period, education was constantly changing in the Victorian Era. During the nineteenth century theories of race were evolving both by scientific writings and in the daily newspaper. Spurred on by such texts as Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the concept of the evolution was being subjected to a new scientific racism. Phrenology, a popular theory of the time, claimed to demonstrate that the bone structure of the skull, especially the jaw formation and facial angles, revealed the position of various races on the evolutionary scale, and a debate raged on whether there had been one creation for all mankind or several, with several of the creations being subordinate and therefore fitting to be ruled over as a lower class.

A scene from Alice in Wonderland in which a cook proceeds to throw pots and pans at the Duchess and in turn the Duchess demands the head of the Alice for contradicting her relates directly to the racism and classisism in the Victorian era. In Lewis Carroll's presentation



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