Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.
Alice is sitting with her sister outdoors when she spies a White Rabbit with a pocket watch. Fascinated by the sight, she follows the rabbit down the hole. She falls for a long time and finds herself in a long hallway full of doors. There is also a key on the table, which unlocks a tiny door; through this door, she spies a beautiful garden. She longs to get there, but the door is too small. Soon, she finds a drink with a note that asks her to drink it. There is later a cake with a note that tells her to eat; Alice uses both, but she cannot seem to get a handle on things and is always either too large to get through the door or too small to reach the key.
While she is tiny, she slips and falls into a pool of water. She realizes that this little sea is made of tears she cried while a giant. She swims to shore with several animals, most notably a sensitive mouse but manages to offend everyone by talking about her cat’s ability to catch birds and mice. Left alone, she goes on through the wood and runs into the White Rabbit. He mistakes her for his maid and sends her to fetch some things from his house. While in the White Rabbit’s home, she drinks another potion and becomes too huge to get out through the door. She eventually finds a little cake which, when eaten, makes her small again.
In the wood again, she comes across a Caterpillar sitting on a mushroom. He gives her some valuable advice, as well as a valuable tool: the two sides of the mushroom, which can make Alice grow larger and smaller as she wishes. The first time she uses them, she stretches her body out tremendously. While stretched out, she pokes her head into the branches of a tree and meets a Pigeon. The Pigeon is convinced that Alice is a serpent, and though Alice tries to reason with her the Pigeon tells her to be off. Alice gets herself down to normal proportions and continues her trek through the woods. In a clearing, she comes across a little house and shrinks herself down enough to get inside. It is the house of the Duchess; the Duchess and the Cook are battling fiercely, and they seem unconcerned about the safety of the baby that the Duchess is nursing. Alice takes the baby with her, but the child turns into a pig and trots off into the woods. Alice next meets the Cheshire cat (who was sitting in the Duchess’s house but said nothing). The Cheshire cat helps her to find her way through the woods, but he warns her that everyone she meets will be mad.
Alice goes to the March Hare’s house, where she is treated to a Mad Tea Party. Present are the March Hare, the Hatter, and the Dormouse. Ever since Time stopped working for the Hatter, it has always been six o’clock; it is therefore always teatime. The creatures of the Mad Tea Party are some of the most argumentative in all of Wonderland. Alice leaves them and finds a tree with a door in it: when she looks through the door, she spies the door-lined hallway from the beginning of her adventures. This time, she is prepared, and she manages to get to the lovely garden that she saw earlier. She walks on through and finds herself in the garden of the Queen of Hearts. There, three gardeners (with bodies shaped like playing cards) are painting the roses red. If the Queen finds out that they planted white roses, she’ll have them beheaded. The Queen herself soon arrives, and she does order their execution; Alice helps to hide them in a large flowerpot.
The Queen invites Alice to play croquet, which is a very difficult game in Wonderland, as the balls and mallets are live animals. The game is interrupted by the appearance of the Cheshire cat, whom the King of Hearts immediately dislikes.
The Queen takes Alice to the Gryphon, who in turn takes Alice to the Mock Turtle. The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle tell Alice bizarre stories about their school under the sea. The Mock Turtles sings a melancholy song about turtle soup, and soon afterwards the Gryphon drags Alice off to see the trial of the Knave of Hearts.
The Knave of Hearts has been accused of stealing the tarts of the Queen of Hearts, but the evidence against him is very bad. Alice is appalled by the ridiculous proceedings. She also begins to grow larger. She is soon called to the witness stand; by this time she has grown to giant size. She refuses to be intimidated by the bad logic of the court and the bluster of the King and Queen of Hearts. Suddenly, the cards all rise and attack her, at which point she wakes up. Her adventures in Wonderland have all been a fantastic dream.
Chapter 1 – Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister when she notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit, but through which she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle labelled “DRINK ME”, the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key. A cake with “EAT ME” on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling.
Chapter 2 – The Pool of Tears
Alice is unhappy and cries and her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again due to a fan she had picked up, Alice swims through her tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him but all she can think of talking about is her cat, which offends the mouse.
Chapter 3 – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale
The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her cat.
Chapter 4 – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill
The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess’s gloves and fan. Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, he orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes. Alice eats them, and they reduce her again in size.
Chapter 5 – Advice from a Caterpillar
Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a blue Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admit to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.
Chapter 6 – Pig and Pepper
A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess’s Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but not the cook or her grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare’s house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.
Chapter 7 – A Mad Tea-Party
Alice becomes a guest at a “mad” tea party along with the Hatter, the March Hare, and a sleeping Dormouse who remains asleep for most of the chapter. The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories, including the famous ‘Why is a raven like a writing desk?’. The Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because Time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.
Chapter 8 – The Queen’s Croquet Ground
Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase “Off with his head!” which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject. Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.
Chapter 9 – The Mock Turtle’s Story
The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice’s request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and she introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.
Chapter 10 – Lobster Quadrille
The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) “‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster”. The Mock Turtle sings them “Beautiful Soup” during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.
Chapter 11 – Who Stole the Tarts?
Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court’s trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the dormouse’s accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she can’t help it. Meanwhile, witnesses at the trial include the Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess’s cook.
Chapter 12 – Alice’s Evidence
Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 (“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar “Off with her head!” but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards; just as they start to swarm over her. Alice’s sister wakes her up for tea, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice’s face. Alice leaves her sister at the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.