Alice in Wonderland: Character Profiles
Alice: The young protagonist of the novel, Alice is based on Lewis Carroll's real-life friend, the young Alice Liddell, daughter of Carroll's boss. Alice, in the novel, is a girl struggling with adolescence and her transformation from an idle child to a conscientious adult.
White Rabbit: The Rabbit is the through line of the novel. That is, he is the character that Alice follows, and he reappears to get things moving again. In a way, he is a sort of guide, though he is too worried about himself to really be guiding anyone.
Dinah: Alice's cat. Dinah is very good at hunting and killing animals, a fact that Alice can't seem to keep to herself. This is most embarrassing when she is in the company of a great many animals who are horrified (rather than impressed) by the notion of a Cat Hunter.
Little Bill: A little salamander.
Mary Ann: The White Rabbit's maid. The Rabbit mistakes Alice for his maid at one point. Caterpillar: A wise guru who sits atop a large mushroom smoking mysterious things through an Arabic Hookah. The Caterpillar is meant to be a wise man who provides Alice with the means of control over her growth by way of a magic mushroom.
Cheshire Cat: A smiling cat who can disappears and reappears at will. The Cheshire Cat is the ironic middle between adulthood and childhood. He reveals to Alice how, after you have mastered the rules (a skill which the Caterpillar basically teaches Alice) then rules can start to master you. He sends her forward to the Mad Hatter and then to the Queen as a lesson in what happens when the rules get out of hand: madness, a sort of childhood for adults.
March Hare: A mad creature who takes tea all of the time because he lives in a state of frozen time.
Mad Hatter: The leader of a perpetual tea time. Hatters were mad because they used mercury in the production of hats from fur. Handling mercury (a liquid metal which soaks into the skin quickly) will cause madness after long exposure.
Doormouse: A mad creature who takes tea all of the time because he lives in a state of frozen time. He also sleeps a lot.
Queen of Hearts: The mad tyrant who rules Wonderland. The Queen is best seen as an old person (an adult) who has lost sight of civility and so has become quite mad. In a sense, she is really an overgrown child who just happens to be old. The novel explains this by positioning her in opposition to Alice's youthful growth. As Alice is growing stronger and more reasonable, the Queen is degenerating into frailty and madness. As Alice becomes a fertile, red woman, the Queen wanes to become a pale, old matron.
King of Hearts: The Queen's simpering husband.
Alice's Sister: A reasonable adult, Alice's older sister is the one who, in the end, recognizes Alice's own adult-like qualities. Carroll closes with her adult interpretation of Wonderland so as to reinforce the sense that Alice has truly grown emotionally.
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