The Mad Hatter In Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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By modern standards, the introduction to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland isn’t particularly attention-grabbing. The story starts out with a calm pastoral scene, and doesn’t really begin to pick up until the main character is falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. However, by Victorian standards, the seemingly mundane beginning would be full of potential, as well as more fitting for a children’s story than an action-introduction followed by a flashback to introduce all the characters properly. The characters themselves are all unique and colorful, with even minor characters having unforgettable quirks and roles to play. Despite the strangeness of the settings and characters, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is firmly…show more content…
To a detail-oriented child, he would also represent the second (after the Duchess) human character Alice meets in Wonderland. However, an adult reader of Carroll 's time might see a representation of the extremely unsafe working conditions of Victorian England. This was especially true of the hat making industry, in which hatters used highly toxic mercury compounds to treat the felt used for hats (Park and Zheng). Although long-term exposure to these chemicals was not usually fatal, a lifetime of working amid mercury fumes would result in severe brain and nerve damage (Park and Zheng). Hat making was an essential industry in Victorian England; due to the emphasis on conformity, the rules of fashion were strictly followed. As no self-respecting man of that time would be caught out of doors without his hat, there was a consistently high demand for well-made felt hats. Yet, as shown by the Mad Hatter 's insanity, the human cost of fashion was equally high…show more content…
Notably, the Caterpillar is uninterested in the details of Alice 's problem, and additionally is offended that she even has the nerve to complain about being a few inches high. Its "cure" in the form of edible mushrooms initially only worsens Alice 's size problem, causing uncontrolled growth and shrinking. Caterpillar 's hostile, uninterested response to Alice 's frustrations could be a subtle reference to the way that women of the Victorian era were treated. The social roles open to Victorian-era women were extremely limited; few had the opportunity to earn an independent living (“Women’s Rights”). Due to the era 's emphasis on conformity, women in Lewis Carroll 's time were expected to be satisfied with their lot in life, and any sentiments expressing different beliefs were met with indignation and hostility. Thus, just as Caterpillar was surprised and offended that Alice could be frustrated by being only a few inches high, Victorian society was shocked by women who were bold enough to protest their limited social roles and lack of equal
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