Thursday, April 8, 2010

Innocence and Truth

While much has been said about Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver's Travels, I would like to point out one further specific link I saw between the two. Alice is a child, and we discussed at length Carroll's obsession with children and the child-like state. Inherent in childhood is innocence and purity. While Carroll's relations with young girls may be questionable--especially to our modern sensibilities--as pedophilia, which is obvious impurity, if we simply look at his fascination with childhood as it appears in Alice, the focus on innocence is apparent. Alice states exactly what is on her mind honestly and eagerly interrupts conversations to just let that honesty burst forth. There is no filter on her mouth because there is no recognition that one should be there at all. In the same way, the Houyhnhnms are innocent through their language as well. They always speak honestly and cannot even grasp the concept of lying. This tie to innocence through language is especially important because while Carroll himself promotes innocence, he also confounds through his language--the complexities, the puns, the absurdity. What, then, is he trying to say? That is the question.


  1. I agree with your idea about Alice's honesty and how she doesn't realize when she needs to be quiet! When you talk about how Carroll promotes innocence, I think his background confuses the matter and takes the innocence away. I think the language also adds to the complexitity but in my opinion, his obsession with these girls is more disturbing than the language.

  2. Good point! Since Alice is a child and is unfamiliar with the nuances of the complex puns and wordplay in the story, it must seem like the characters of Wonderland are speaking a different language.