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Gabriele, M. (1982). Alice in Wonderland: Problem of Identity---Aggressive Content and Form Control. Am. Imago, 39(4):369-390.

(1982). American Imago, 39(4):369-390

Alice in Wonderland: Problem of Identity---Aggressive Content and Form Control

Mark Gabriele

Introduction

As Alice falls down the rabbit hole that will take her to Wonderland, she wonders if she mightn't find herself on the opposite side of the earth without knowing exactly what country that would be. She imagines having to ask someone the name of the country, and practices the respectful curtsey she would use while asking. But then reluctant to have anyone think her ignorant, she decides it would ‘never do’ to ask, and instead hopes to see the name “written up” somewhere.a Alice's determination not to be caught in a position of ignorance and her curtsey introduce us to her and to one of the ambiguities of her portrayal in Alice in Wonderland.

On the one hand, knowing things and acting properly are both important to Alice and give us a sense of how she sees herself. She likes to think of herself in terms of an adult-like awareness of social situation (and she conducts herself according to prescribed convention), and knowledgeability---she likes to consider herself on top of things. She sees herself as a clever, proper young lady. In general, Alice defines herself by stable and for the most part external parameters: her social role, knowledge of facts, and the texture of her hair.

On the other hand, we find passages in the book which add a more complex dimension to this portrait, and reveal a deeper nature characterized by an explosive cannibalistic aggression. This aspect of herself Alice does not wish to acknowledge and in fact finds hard to control. She feels insecure, uncertain, and even threatened by it.

The

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