From the moment it was published, people have been looking for the meaning of "Alice in Wonderland." The beauty of "Alice in Wonderland" is that as a surrealist piece of literature, its meaning is left to the interpretation of the reader. In the 145 years since "Alice in Wonderland" was published, countless scholars have tried to assign meaning to Wonderland and the creatures that inhabit it. The theories that surround "Alice in Wonderland" vary depending on who you speak with, but they can range from theories on the transition from childhood to adulthood, to mathematics, to assuming Lewis Carroll must have been on the mother of all acid trips when he wrote it. In the end no one can really know what the meaning behind "Alice in Wonderland" is outside of Lewis Carroll–and he is long gone. So instead of worrying about which theory of "Alice in Wonderland" is the most accurate, it may be more fun to open your mind and find your own meaning for "Alice in Wonderland."
One of the most popular theories on the meaning behind "Alice in Wonderland" is that Lewis Carroll had to be on acid or something to pull all of these weird creatures out of his head. While this theory is the most fun, it is the one that has been the easiest to debunk. Historians have been able to prove Lewis Carroll wasn't on anything when he conjured up the story of "Alice in Wonderland". Lewis Carroll–whose real name was Charles Dodgson–was a Mathematician by trade, and was as straight as they come. Carroll wrote "Alice in Wonderland" on a boat trip as a way to entertain the three young daughters of his friend. If we take the stories origins at face value, the only meaning that "Alice in Wonderland" has ever had has been to keep a bunch of kids quiet on a trip. Hardly the psychedelic acid trip that we may have been hoping for, but it was definitely a great way to keep a bunch of kids quiet while you're trying to steer a boat.
There are some scholars who believe that the world Lewis Carroll created in "Alice in Wonderland" is a complex mathematical allegory. That it was written in response to the way the world and its relationship with Math and Science was changing. "Alice in Wonderland" was written at a time when there were major changes happening throughout the world. It was the height of the Victorian Era and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Math and Science were driving the world into the future in a way that no one had ever dreamed of. While most mathematicians probably jumped on the chance to get in on the ground floor of so many new ideas, there were also some who saw these changes as overwhelming and perhaps a bit frightening. If Lewis Carroll was a man in the latter category, he may have used the surrealist images of "Alice in Wonderland" as a way to deal with and accept the changes going on around him.
Of all of the theories about the meaning behind "Alice in Wonderland," the theory on personal growth may be the most widely accepted. As Alice makes her way through Wonderland we see her grow as a person. From a frightened little girl to a young woman who matures as a result of her adventures. It's one of the more mundane theories put to the meaning behind "Alice in Wonderland," but it is the one that seems to be easiest to swallow for most people. If nothing else it sounds good if you're charged with teaching "Alice in Wonderland" to a bunch of sixth graders. In the end, instead of looking for the meaning behind "Alice in Wonderland" with a bunch of scholars, the best things to do is relax, open your mind and find your own meaning behind the story.
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