Recently in my psychology class, we talked about adolescents dealing with their self-concept and identity. Self concept is a conscious, cognitive perception and assessment by an individual of themselves. Identity is defined as ones life story. Compared to identity, self-concept is more limited; identity is more complete, coherent, and forward projecting because it includes long-term goals.
Throughout Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice is constantly confused about her identity. Alice is most likely experiencing an identity crisis. Her confusion begins after she becomes small and then big. She starts to question who she is. Alice tried to prove that she is still the same Alice by repeating her lessons-only to find out that she cannot say them correctly. As a result, Alice starts to go through her friends and decide which one she must be because she is obviously not Alice anymore. Alice decides that she is her friend Mabel, because she cannot remember her lessons. When Alice grows larger, she becomes confused about her age as well, stating that she’s “grown up now,” even though the only thing that changed was Alice’s size. She also experiences confusion when the caterpillar directly asks her “Who are you?” and she cannot seem to come up with an answer-not even her own name. Alice again confuses herself with someone else when the White Rabbit mistakes her for Mary Ann, his cleaning lady, and tells her to “fetch [him] a pair of gloves and a fan.”
Although Alice is not an adolescent, she is still struggling with her identity. Alice is having a tough time trying to figure out who she is and how she fits into society in Wonderland. Since she doesn’t understand the new world around her, she finds it harder to understand how this ‘new Alice’ fits into it. Alice even admits that “it was much pleasanter at home” but that Wonderland is “rather curious.” Although she is confused about herself and her surroundings, she can’t help but be intrigued. This confusion shows that Alice is not yet set in her identity and therefore is able to test different roles and identities until she finds one that fits her.