A Strange Trial
Alice as a Character
Alice is sound, well-trained, and polite. From the outset, she is a miniature Victorian “lady” of the middle class. Considered in this way, she is the perfect foil, or counterpoint, or contrast to all the unsocial, bad-mannered eccentrics she meets in Wonderland. Her courage is the constant resource and strength of Alice. Her dignity, her directness, her conscience, and her art of conversation all fail her time and time again. But when chips are down, Alice reveals something to the Queen of Hearts-that is spunk! Indeed, Alice has all the Victorian virtues, including a quaint rationalization capacity; yet it is the common sense of Alice that makes the quarrelsome creatures of the Wonderland seem perverse despite what they consider to be their “adult” identities.
Surely, Alice doesn’t fit any conventional stereotype; she’s not an angel or brat. She just has an overwhelming curiosity, but restraint and moderation match it. In other ways, she’s also balanced. She only “samples” the cake labelled “EAT ME” to control her growth and shrink. And there’s never a hint she’d try to use her size advantage to control her destiny and set dictatorial behavioural rules for Wonderland. When she complains about being three inches tall, the Caterpillar takes offence. And the Duchess is unreasonable, brutal and coarse. But their “civility” veneer is either irrational or transparent in each case. The Caterpillar finds joy in teasing Alice into a corrupt “set of stupid rules” with his pointed, formal verb games, and the rude Duchess mellows. Yet, behind their playfulness, Alice senses resentment and rage. It’s not that Alice is kept “simple” so that the monstrous aspects of Wonderland characters are thrown into relief. Rather, it is because Alice sees herself as simple, sweet, innocent, and confused as she conceives her personality in a dream.
Some critics feel that Wonderland reflects the personality of Alice and her waking life; that may be the case. But the story itself is independent of the “real world” of Alice. As it were, her personality stands alone in the story, and it has to be considered in terms of the character of Alice in Wonderland. In all Alice’s responses to Wonderland, a strong moral consciousness operates, yet on the other hand, she exhibits the insensitivity of a child in discussing her cat Dinah with the scared mouse in the pool of tears.
In general, the simplicity of Alice owes much to the feminine passivity and repressive domestication of Victorian women. Slowly, in stages, the reasonableness of Alice, her sense of responsibility, and her other good qualities will emerge on her journey through Wonderland and in the trial scene in particular. They have a long list of virtues: curiosity, courage, kindness, intelligence, courtesy, humor, dignity, and a sense of justice. With the pig/baby, she’s even “maternal.” But her constant and universal human characteristic is a simple wonder— something that can be easily identified with by all children (and the child still living in most adults).
WORKING WITH THE TEXT
Q1: What did Alice remember?
Ans: Alice remembered following a rabbit and reaching to a wonderland through a rabbit hole. There she saw a lot of odd creatures who spoke and acted strangely. Alice remembered meeting a king and a queen there and attending a mad tea party. She also remembered drinking a strange liquid that made her grow smaller, and then she ate a cake to grow larger again.
Q.2 Why, according to Gryphan, were the jurymen putting down their names?
Ans: According to Gryphan, the jurors were writing down their names for the fear of forgetting them at the end of the trail.
Q. 3 The first witness was: Alice, White Rabbit, King, Mad Hatter.
Ans: Mad Hatter.
Q. 4 “Give your evidence or I”ll have you executed whether you are nervous or not”. Who says these words and to whom? What do you mean by “I will have you executed”?
Ans: These words are told by the King of Hearts to Mad Hatter. To have somebody executed means to punish unto to death.
Q. 5 What according to Alice, is the first wise thing that the king has said that day?
Ans. “You are a very poor speaker” told by the Kind to Hatter is the first thing according to Alice that he has said that day.
Q. 6 Knave denies having imitated somebody”s handwriting. What evidence does he give?
Ans: He denies having written the letter. He says had he done so, he would have signed it at the end.
Q. 7 What happens when the whole pack of cards and all the animals fall upon Alice?
Ans: When all the animals fall upon Alice, She screams and tries to beat them off. The animals run in different directions and disappear.
Q.8 A strange trail was a dream which Alice dreamt. (true/ false)
A. Match the phrasal verbs on the left with their meaning on the right:
i. Put down: Write down
ii. Pick up: Take in hand
iii. Send for: Send someone a message asking them to come to see you.
iv. Take off: Remove
v. Put on: Wear
vi. Stare at: Look at something continuously
vii. Hurry up: Makes haste
viii. Look at: See
ix. Fall in: Make a line
x. Hand over: Give
xi. Beat off: Defeat
xii. Hit out: Criticize strongly
B. Do it yourself.
C. Fill in the blanks with the words given:
Bevy, Brood, Throng, Staff, Suite, Chest, Cluster, Litter, String, Shoal, Chain
1. A shoal of fish.
2. A bevy of ladies.
3. A suite of rooms.
4. A cluster of stars.
5. A staff of officials.
6. A throng of people.
7. A brood of chickens.
8. A litter of puppies.
9. A chest of drawers.
10. A string of camels.
11. A chain of mountains.
D. Give the antonyms of the italicized word in the following sentences:
1. Honesty is the best policy.
Ans. (b). Deceit
2. The chairman initiated the proceeding with a brief speech.
Ans. (c). Closed
3. William Wordsworth is celebrated for his lucid style.
Ans. (a). Notorious
4. A faithful officer is always vigilant towards his duties.
Ans. (d). Careless
Ans. I told the peon that all his faults would be pardoned if he confesses them.
10. I said, “I shall finish my work as early as I can.”
Ans. I said that I should finish my work as early as I could. B. Change the following sentences into direct speech:
1. The employer warned him that he would be dismissed if he did attend the office. Ans. The employer said to him, “You will be dismissed if you do not attend the office.” 2. Sanjay said that his brother had met with an accident the previous day. Ans. Sanjay said, “My brother has met with an accident yesterday.” 3. I informed him that I might not come the next day.
Ans. I said to him, “I may not come tomorrow.”
4. The principal announced that the next day would be the holiday.
Ans. The principal said, “Tomorrow will be a holiday.”
5. The teacher told us that we were intelligent and hard-working.
Ans. The teacher said to us, “You are intelligent and hard-working.”