Understanding Individual Identities

Lewis Carroll repeatedly incorporated the idea of Alice realizing her identity into his works. However, there are instances in the Alice book series when the other characters in the book have trouble realizing her identity. While reading Caroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, this idea became clear to me in the following passage:

‘Besides, if I’m only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you, I should like to know?’
‘Ditto’ said Tweedledum.
‘Ditto, ditto’ cried Tweedledee.
He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn’t help saying, ‘Hush! You’ll be waking him, I’m afraid, if you make so much noise.’
‘Well, it no use your talking about waking him,’ said Tweedledum, ‘when you’re only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you’re not real.’
‘I am real!’ said Alice and began to cry.

Upon reading this passage, a question regarding identity arises. How might an individual be affected when others refuse to see them how they would like to be viewed?

This question emerges once Alice begins to cry because Tweedledee and Tweedledum refuse to believe that she is real. The characters in Wonderland often believe what is convenient for them, which has a profound negative effect on Alice. She attempts to prove that she is, but this only leads Tweedledum to state “you know very well you’re not real.” In a sense, this leaves Alice feeling alone in her situation. After all, she is the only human that the characters have come in contact with, so it is natural for them to question if she truly exists. It is difficult to blame the characters for their lack of understanding, but Alice is still left feeling upset in her attempt to make those around her identify her as a human. Through this passage, the reader is able to sympathize with Alice as she tries to conform to Wonderland on her own.

This passage allows the reader to answer the question that is raised. It becomes clear to see the negative effects that can arise when individuals are not accepted by those in their environment. Alice clearly had trouble conforming to Wonderland because of the unwillingness of the other characters to accept her unconventional traits. Although Alice screamed out that she “is real,” Tweedledee and Tweedledum are not willing to accept this because they are used to everything in their world being nonsense. Alice is viewed as abnormal in their world due to her appearance and mannerisms, which upsets her and leads her to feel alone in a new world. Given her wish to become a member of society, Alice must learn to follow a new set of rules to gain acceptance from those around her. Learning to do things, such as “hush,” when the other characters deem it necessary is a difficult task to adjust to. Like most other people who are introduced to new environments, Alice had a difficult time conforming to a way of life that she never previously knew. If the characters would have taken the time to accept Alice’s differences, she would have had to deal with far fewer issues regarding her identity.

Although this passage is from a children’s book, it serves as a great lesson for people of all ages. It allows society to recognize the importance of accepting the identities of people from all backgrounds. How one feels regarding their identity may not be visible on the outside, but they might be deeply affected when their peers refuse to view them how they would like. To understand this, the reader may have to move up a level of abstraction when reading this passage to fully understand it. When this is done, it becomes clear to see the negative effect Tweedledee and Tweedledum had on Alice when they refused to understand her identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.