Why do we have dreams? They are a combination of what we have experienced during the day, and our deepest thoughts and feelings. If you have been stressed and upset, you will probably have a nightmare about it. After taking a closer look at the film Alice in Wonderland, I think there’s more to Alice’s dream. Does it hold clues to what’s happening in her life? Let’s solve this mystery and take a closer look at the evidence:
Alice is lonely
At the very beginning of the movie, Alice is singing to her cat Dinah. She says that in her world, the flowers would talk to her when she feels lonely. This could explain a lot about the dream she has after.
When she reaches the door knob at the bottom of the hole after chasing the White Rabbit, Alice starts to cry, and because she is huge after drinking the “Drink Me” bottle, her tears are huge too which transitions into her swimming in her own tears after she drinks more of the potion to make her three inches tall again. She almost drowns in her own tears, which also suggests loneliness and feeling lost and upset. What’s going on in her life to make her have such a dream?
Throughout the film she is asking for help on what to do, where to go, and says that she is confused. Is this really just caused by Wonderland, or is it from something that’s happening to her when she’s awake? What’s most interesting is that this all starts with her chasing the White Rabbit. Why? The White Rabbit is late. Was Alice too late for something? Did she make a mistake? This could explain her mixed up feelings in the dream. I think Alice is chasing time: “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” “Wait Mr Rabbit!”
Is there anything else that could suggest Alice is lonely, lost, and has made a huge mistake?...
The Walrus, the Carpenter, and the Crocodile
When Alice meets Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, they tell her a story about the Walrus and the Carpenter. The Walrus goes into the sea and lures the oysters away from their mother, who warns them to stay. But the oysters follow the Walrus, who eats them all and leaves nothing for the Carpenter. Why would Alice be thinking of something so dark? I think possibly that we are getting closer to the meaning of Alice’s dream. So far, she has expressed a mixture of sad and confused feelings, and her search for the White Rabbit suggests she has made a grave mistake. Is this story a possible clue to what she did? I think so.
And this story repeats itself, further supporting my theory. When Alice meets the Caterpillar, he talks about a crocodile eating fish, just like the Walrus lured and ate the oysters. Alice's dream seems more like a nightmare. Her response to both stories was the same. To Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, she says that the story has a moral “if you are an oyster”. To the Caterpillar, she says how she doesn’t remember the story like that. Could this suggest a warning she ignored? Was she warned about whatever she did before she did it? Let’s find out.
Alice is an outcast
The first time Alice catches up with the White Rabbit, she unfortunately becomes large again, meaning she is stuck in the Rabbit’s house. She is too big for the home, which belongs to the rabbit she’s been chasing – did she not fit in where she lived? I feel this is significant because it is the home of the Rabbit, the clue that suggests time is a big thing to Alice. The White Rabbit’s house is about to be burnt down by the Dodo so that they can remove Alice, but she becomes small again in the nick of time. I think this represents Alice wanting to do something before it’s too late. And lo and behold, she continues to chase the White Rabbit afterwards.
This scene also suggests that Alice is an outcast because the lizard, who is persuaded by the Dodo to get rid of Alice, is scared of her and calls her a monster. This is not the only time Alice is called something mean, or rejected either. When she meets the talking flowers, they call her a weed and don’t want to be associated with her. What has poor Alice been through?
I think that what happens to the lizard, oysters and the fish in Alice in Wonderland is interesting – especially the lizard. They are persuaded into going into something they shouldn’t, but they are unaware of being lured into something dangerous despite there being clues and warnings around them. This is what happened to Alice, it must have been since there is so much evidence within the first half of the film to suggest so. Very curious indeed.
Alice either feels too small or stands out in an obvious way that makes her seem strange. She always has her head in the clouds which makes her look even odder. I think this is demonstrated by Alice being unable to be a normal size in her dream for a long time. She is either too big, or three inches tall. She doesn’t get the hang of it until the Caterpillar shouts at her about the mushroom she’s sitting on when she is talking to him.
Another example of Alice being rejected is at the tea party. She is told there is “No room! No room!” I don’t think Alice is ever listened to either. She tries to confide in the Mad Hatter but has no success in finishing her story and eventually storms out, chasing the White Rabbit again.
Who is the Caterpillar?
As well as asking “WHO – ARE – YOU?” and yelling at her about the mushroom, he is also the one character that Alice voices her confusion to. At the end of the film she asks him what she should do, to which he replies “WHO – ARE – YOU?” again. What does this represent? Who is he? I wonder if he is meant to be a representation of Alice’s father.
He is wise like a parent, shown in the advice about the mushroom and the way Alice is with him, and she goes to him for help like a child goes to their parent or guardian. But he seems like he would be quite strict too, which would upset such a kind and curious girl like Alice, so if she had a strict father in real life who she looked up to, her dreaming about him would make sense. However, I am unable to come up with an explanation as to why her father appears as a smoking caterpillar in her dream. Maybe this shows Alice’s desire for her father to be something kinder and more pleasant; caterpillars eventually turn into beautiful butterflies, but the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland is quite melancholic and patronising.
So, what happened to Alice?
After the tea party, Alice has had enough of all this nonsense and just wants to go back home, and she continues to chase the White Rabbit. She wants to go home before it’s too late perhaps? Did she run away from home, like how the oysters left the sea? I think this makes sense, because it explains why she turns to the Caterpillar (or her father) and maybe the mistake she regrets is running away.
Alice finds a path on her search for home. She runs along it, saying how Dinah will be excited to see her and that she might be home in time for tea. There is no mention of her parents however. Did she not listen to her parents’ warning before leaving home, and now they are gone? Also, as she runs along the path, it is cleaned up by an odd-looking dog. This is another piece of evidence supporting that Alice feels lost, confused and lonely since the path she chose has been erased, and all she wants is to find home whilst she tells time to wait. I think the next scene confirms everything…
“If I’d have listened earlier I wouldn’t be here,” says Alice, sitting alone in the woods after her path has been erased. “I give myself good advice but rarely seldom take it.” She never listened to someone – but if she had, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Could she be referring to her family and running away? Like the oysters she was warned, but ran anyway and has sealed her fate.
Who is the Queen of Hearts?
Alice definitely did something that she regrets. It’s obvious to say that she regrets running away from home - after all the evidence that leads to Alice sobbing and wanting to return home after being lost, confused and alone in Wonderland - but why did she run away from home? What does this vivid and odd dream mean?
Everything has lead up to the Queen of Hearts – this is where the White Rabbit was heading for all this time, which makes her a significant figure in Alice’s dream. So she must be important within Alice’s life, surely? She is also a representation of how Alice feels – for example the queen’s name is a contradiction which could signify Alice’s confusion. Hearts are associated with love, not with someone like the queen, who is nasty and aggressive. When Alice is playing croquet with the queen, she is showed up by everyone and laughed at, which again shows Alice is an oddball and an outcast. She is then subjected to a trial with the Red Queen which supports the idea that Alice has done something wrong or feels guilty for something. Also, giving Alice a trial seems uncharacteristic for a hot-headed queen who normally screams “OFF WITH HER HEAD!” Yet she gives Alice a second chance. What makes her so special?
I think the Red Queen is Alice's mother, the woman whom Alice ran away from because of her foul temper, was warned not to run, and now regrets her decision which is why she chased the White Rabbit.
I have another idea too. I think the Queen of Hearts is mentally unstable, which is why she is irrational, unfair and the reason for Alice’s actions. When Alice first meets the Chesire Cat in the woods, he tells her that everyone is mad, to which Alice replies “I must try not to upset them then.” Does this part of her dream suggest a connection to mental health? It would explain the Mad Hatter and the Mad Hare too. I think that’s what happened to Alice. She ran away from her mother and regrets leaving, but it’s too late to return despite her efforts to chase the White Rabbit. I think it’s also too late for Alice because when she reaches the Queen of Hearts near the end of the movie, the queen has not changed; she is still aggressive and she’s controlling: “Curtsey! Open your mouth wider and say YYYYYYES! YOUR MAJESTY!” and the queen also wants to chop Alice’s head off. This doesn’t sound like she has forgiven Alice for leaving.
I think Alice fled from home, despite being warned not to by her parents, and regretted her decision to leave afterwards. The reason Alice, an outcast and an oddball, ran away from home was because of her mother's raging temper. I think this confused dream of Alice's shows her inner conflict; she feels guilty for leaving home and wants to return, but if she does she is afraid of what she will be greeted by. This is what her dream means - it's telling us her story.
What do you think? What's your theory? Comment below!
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