The Art of Darkness

Go Ask Alice

April 11th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Shadow Jack really is the right guy for me. He came home from work the other day and asked me how my day was. I told him I’d noticed another death reference in Alice in Wonderland. In retrospect, this is probably not the sort of information with which most wives greet their husbands, but he took it with complete equanimity. Indeed, he didn’t even seem surprised.

Alice is full of such references, although I can’t say whether your spouse will be as supportive of you finding them. Lewis Carroll had a rather morbid sense of humor, and quite a lot of his narrative can be read with a double meaning. When Alice is falling down the rabbit hole, for instance, she thinks to herself that when she gets back home she’ll be unafraid of falling, and says, “I wouldn’t say anything, even if I fell off the top of the house,” to which the narrator adds, “which was very likely true.” (In other words, you can’t say anything when you’re dead.)

The one I found the other day was in Through the Looking Glass, and involves this exchange with Humpty-Dumpty:

“Seven years and six months!” Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. “An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you’d asked MY advice, I’d have said “Leave off at seven”–but it’s too late now.”

“I never ask advice about growing,” Alice said indignantly.

“Too proud?” the other inquired.

Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. “I mean,” she said, “that one can’t help growing older.”

“ONE can’t, perhaps,” said Humpty Dumpty, “but TWO can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.”

Isn’t that sweet?

Next time you re-read the Alice books (and who amongst us doesn’t?) keep an eye out for the murderous subtext. Throws a whole new light on things.

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