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Literature / Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
aka: Alice In Wonderland

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"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

"Curiouser and curiouser!"
Alice (though contrary to popular belief, she only says it once)

A parade of the surreal, with all the logic of a dream — and invoking the madness of quite a lot of mankind's so-called "logic" — Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a children's classic, filled with allusions to Victorian trivia, most of which is now long forgotten. (The book The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner explains all of these, from jokes to basic trivia. It contains both volumes, with Tenniel's original illustrations.)

The story was first told by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Pen Name: Lewis Carroll) on a boating trip with a friend and three little girls, one of whom was Alice Liddell. It was meant as a gift for her and the fictional Alice is based on her.

The story can be read here, and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass here.

The story begins when Alice follows a white rabbit, who just happens to be wearing a waistcoat and a pocketwatch, down a rabbit hole. She falls, very slowly, into a corridor lined with doors, all locked, and a key that fits only into the smallest one. After some misadventures with food and drink that make her change size, she escapes in a pool of her own tears. Outside, she finds a land filled with strange creatures and talking animals. Few are entirely rational. After several bizarre incidents, including the Duchess' Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Alice defies the tyrannical Queen of Hearts and wakes up. It was All Just a Dream — definitely-third person narration clearly states that this is so.

In the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), Alice falls asleep in her living room after playing with her kittens and then dreams she steps though the mirror above the fireplace, where she becomes a pawn in an allegorical game of chess. On her march across the board, symbolised as countryside divided up by brooks, Alice meets more strange characters, mostly taken from nursery rhymes, before eventually reaching the other end of the board, becoming a queen, and having a coronation party, which rapidly gets out of hand. Seizing the Red Queen, she wakes up and finds she is holding one of her kittens.

The books have contributed many phrases to the English language — "chortle" was coined by Lewis Carroll — and, thanks to their large cast of characters, are especially popular for adapting into ensemble films loaded with veteran actors.

Movie adaptations of the story go back into the earliest days of film: the first adaptation, a short subject made in 1903, contains some of the earliest examples of special effects in film. Walt Disney made some of his first animated films adapted from the Alice tales, and featured a live-action actress against animated characters. Of course, more popular is Disney's 1951 feature film, which is considered among the studio's most surreal titles. Again under Disney, Tim Burton has made a new 2010 movie with Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, though it's actually a sequel to both this book and Through the Looking Glass. This version received a sequel in 2016, titled Alice Through the Looking Glass. An unrelated television movie reimagination, Alice, was produced in 2009 by the Syfy Channel. The Looking-Glass Wars is a trilogy by Frank Beddor based on the idea that Alyss was heir to the throne of Wonderland and was forced to flee to our world by her evil Aunt Redd. And there's an animated series by Nippon Animation (the same group that made the Biene Maia, Heidi, Girl of the Alps and A Dog of Flanders animated series). A pop musical version, simply called Wonderland, is playing in Tampa, Florida as of late 2009. The book also inspired various manga. PandoraHearts and Are You Alice? are the two most prominent. Among the many video game adaptations are American McGee's Alice. Many adaptations involve Grimmification to some degree. Due to its copyright expiring long ago, Alice is popular base material for commercial transformative works, including a musical porn film from 1975 and a special adaptation that features many characters from a far darker story known as Code Geass as the cast of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The most surreal adaptation would be Alice (1988) by Jan Švankmajer.

Interestingly, there has only been one live-action film adaptation based on Carroll's original writing, a 1933 film called Alice in Wonderland that employed an All-Star Cast (W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle, and Gary Cooper as the White Knight), but had almost all the actors so heavily disguised as to be unrecognizable.

TV Tropes's list of adaptations and related works can be found here. Though the Disney franchise can be found here.

Now has a Character Sheet under construction. For tropes related to the adaptations, see below the trope list for the books.


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    Trope examples in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass 

  • Abusive Parents: The first time we meet the Duchess, she's violently shaking and tossing around a screaming baby, shouting "PIG!" and paying no attention as her cook throws crockery at them. Alice attempts to rescue the baby, but it turns into a pig.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The real Alice Liddell had short, black hair, unlike the girl seen in Tenniel's illustrations. There is some evidence that the illustrator based the character on a photo given to him by Dodgson of another child-friend.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Alice waking up at the end of Wonderland works just fine, since the story has all the surreality and internal logic of any dream.
    • Through the Looking Glass adds a complication: was it Alice's dream of the Red King, or was it the Red King's dream of Alice?
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Alice's sister and cat are mentioned several times, and her brother, nurse, and governess are all mentioned once. Her parents, however, are never even mentioned, not even in passing by the narrative.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The animal characters in the book, even important members of the cast like the White Rabbit, are almost always referred to with neutral pronouns; usually, they are assumed to be male.
    • Subverted in most of Russian and Ukrainian translations of the book, where certain characters in Wonderland get proper gender due to the nature of the language’s grammar. Thus Mouse, Caterpillar and Dormouse are depicted to be female.
  • An Aesop:
    • Subverted. Alice is notable for being the first work of Victorian children's literature that sought to entertain rather than to teach dull morals. Though one could argue that Alice teaches an indirect moral of enjoying your childhood while it lasts, and never forgetting it during adulthood.
    • Also Parodied, for example with How Doth the Little Crocodile being a parody of the moralizing verse taught to kids in the era (in this case, Against Idleness and Mischief by Isaac Watts).
    • Also satirized with the Duchess when she meets Alice again at the Queen of Hearts' croquet game, since she keeps trying to find a moral to everything they see every two seconds of the game, each one more ludicrous than the last, even though none of her morals apply to the situations she and Alice come across.
    • Discussed between Alice and Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Through the Looking-Glass after they recited the poem "The Walrus and The Carpenter". A good natured Alice tried to find the most sympathetic character between Walrus and Carpenter, and after some debate, Alice decided she disliked the both of them, as while the Walrus lamented his actions, he ate more than the Carpenter. Contrariwise, the Carpenter ate less but ate as many as he could.
      Alice: "I like the Walrus best, because you see he was a little sorry for the poor oysters."
      Tweedledee. "He ate more than the Carpenter, though. You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise."
      Alice: "That was mean!" Then I like the Carpenter best—if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus."
      Tweedledum: "But he ate as many as he could get."
      Alice: "Well! They were both very unpleasant characters—"
  • Animesque: In 2014, Seven Seas Entertainment published an edition of the two novels with artwork by Kriss Sison designed to be like this. The text itself remains the same.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In Through the Looking-Glass, Alice (who has already encountered a gryphon, talking flowers, and elephant-sized bees, among other oddities) expresses surprise that Unicorns exist. (The Unicorn then expresses surprise that little girls exist.) She also refuses to believe that the White Queen is actually over 100 years old, despite readily believing that the Queen can see the future.
  • Artistic License – Chess: The chess game depicted in Through the Looking-Glass plays fast and loose with the rules (though this can possibly be chalked up to it taking place in a dream).
    • The two sides are dubbed White and Red, even though — regardless of the actual colours of the pieces — they are always White and Black in real life.
    • The sides don't alternate moves properly (it's mostly "Alice moves, then someone else does". In total, White takes 13 movesnote  while Red takes three.
    • When the Red Queen moves to the space next to Alice near the end, for the examination of her fitness to be a Queen, she places the White King in check. Neither side acknowledges this, and the next move is the White Queen moving to KR6 (when she disappears into the soup tureen), which, since it does nothing to uncheck the king, is an illegal move.
  • Artistic License – Physics: As an algebra professor, Carroll clearly knew that if Alice had truly been in a state of freefall, she could neither have dropped the marmalade jar nor put it in a cupboard as she fell by it. (Probably a minor nitpick considering that her descent itself was a rather blatant violation of the laws of physics.)
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Alice when she grows large. Not that she literally attacks anything, but she does scare the White Rabbit and flood the hallway with her tears.
  • Author Appeal: Lewis Carroll's love of mathematics is evident.
  • Author Avatar:
    • According to some sources, the Dodo (Charles Dodgson had a stutter, and would introduce himself as "Do-do-dodgson") and the White Knight in Through The Looking Glass, though other sources point out that Dodgson actually stammered, and so would not have repeated syllables.
    • The theory about the White Knight is widely believed by most scholars. He was the only character in either book who seemed genuinely kind and polite to Alice, seemingly representing Dodgson's friendship with the girl he based the character on), although Dodgson himself never confirmed nor denied it.
  • Baby See, Baby Do: When the Duchess is singing about being mean to her baby son, the song has a chorus of only, "Wow wow wow!", which the baby joins in on.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: One of the few times this Trope is played for laughs. In the second book, Alice meets a large gnat ("about the size of a chicken" as she describes it) who details the weird insects in the forest, like the Rocking Horse Fly, the Bread and Butter Fly, and the Snapdragon Fly.
  • Black Comedy
    • For example:
      "After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)
    • Martin Gardner pointed out that an exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty is both the blackest and most easily missed joke in the books:
      "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 enquired.
      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."
  • Body Horror: Alice's first attempt using the mushroom is rocky to say the least. She first shrinks in a way that causes her chin to hit her feet. In her justified haste to correct this with the other piece, she is stretched out, her neck becoming incredibly long and serpentine. (For obvious reasons, Tenniel did not illustrate this scene.)
  • Brick Joke: The book has a couple:
    • In chapter 7, the Hatter tells Alice how he performed at the Queen's concert (singing a parody of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star) and the Queen ordered him executed for "murdering the time". Later, in chapter 11, when he's called on as a witness at the trial, the Queen looks at him closely, and then asks a servant to bring her a list of the performers from the concert. (Clearly, she's remembering the incident he mentioned. The Hatter is noticeably nervous about it.)
    • Also, in chapter 6, the Duchess growls, "If everybody minded their own business," the Duchess said in a hoarse growl, "the world would go round a deal faster than it does." Then, in chapter 9 (when Alice meets her in a much better mood) there's this exchange between them:
      Duchess: Tis so. And the moral of that is, "Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, that makes the world go round!"
    • As you might expect, the Duchess doesn't get the hint.
    • The second book combines this with foreshadowing. When Alice sees the living chess pieces in miniature form, she writes in the King's notebook, "The White Knight is sliding down the poker; he balances very badly." Several chapters later, when she meets the white Knight in person, he clearly balances horribly, falling off his horse every few steps it makes.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bill. First he's catapulted out of a chimney, then Alice is kind of mean to him when he's part of the jury.
  • Calvinball: The Caucus Race, in which everyone runs around at random for half an hour, after which it is announced that "EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes".
  • Canis Major: The puppy, relative to Alice.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Quite possibly the Ur-Example.
  • Cats Are Magic: The Cheshire Cat.
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted with the Cheshire Cat. He's mischievous, but friendly.
  • Cats Are Superior: Or at least Cheshire Cat thinks so.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: The walrus in The Walrus and the Carpenter does this when the oysters suspect that he intends to eat them:
    "But not on us!" the oysters cried,
    Turning a little blue.
    "After such kindness, that would be
    A dismal thing to do."
    "The night is fine," the walrus said.
    "Do you admire the view?"
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Despite being regarded as the Trope Namer, the Cat is mostly harmless; he's a mischievous creature, but not malicious to Alice or anyone who doesn't seem to deserve it.
  • Chess Motifs: Takes it further than most, and is itself a huge inspiration for stock chess metaphors.
  • Children Are Innocent: The author's belief. Alice herself epitomizes innocence.
  • Chimney Entry: Bill the lizard is sent down the chimney of the White Rabbit's house to get the monster inside (actually an enlarged Alice). Unfortunately, Alice's foot is blocking the fireplace. She gives it a swift kick and out comes Bill shooting into the sky.
  • Church of Saint Genericus: In the second book, bishops are not mentioned at all in Carroll's text among the living chess pieces (although some are present in Tenniel's illustrations), possibly to avoid offending the clergy. (Carroll himself was an Anglican deacon.)
    • Another likely reason is that the possible bishop-related puns would be impossible to translate. The bishop chess piece is only called that in English and Portuguese; in other languages, it has a lot of names, including "Elephant" (and "alfil", with the same meaning), "Officer", "Messenger", "Jester" and "Hunter".
  • Cloudcuckooland: Naturally.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Alice is mistaken for the White Rabbit's housekeeper Mary Anne and sent into his house to find his gloves. She spends a lot of time worrying about running into the real Mary Anne and being turned out of the house before she gets a chance to find the gloves.
  • Compilation Rerelease: Many, if not most printings of the two novels put them together into a single book.
  • Cool Old Guy: The White Knight is a goofy, bumbling fellow who is always getting interesting — if unfeasible — ideas, whom you can't help admire. Possibly meant to be a caricature of Carroll himself.
  • Crazy People Play Chess: In the second book, the entire looking-glass world is actually an enormous chess game filled with crazy people.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The White Knight:
    White Knight: You see, it's as well to be provided for everything. That's the reason the horse has all those anklets round his feet.
    Alice: But what are they for?
    White Knight: To guard against the bites of sharks.
  • Crocodile Tears: The Walrus cries for the oysters while he's eating them.
    "I weep for you," the Walrus said.
    "I deeply sympathize."
    With sobs and tears he sorted out
    Those of the largest size,
    Holding his pocket handkerchief
    Before his streaming eyes.
    • When Alice says that at least the Walrus felt sorry for the oysters, Tweedledee explains that he only did that so he could hide that he's taking more than the Carpenter.
  • Crying a River: When Alice grows to a giant, she cries an enormous pool. Ties in with Giant's Droplet, Human's Shower below.
  • Dances and Balls: The Lobster Quadrille.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The King of Hearts, who seems to be the only one who is deliberately trying to be funny. For example, when he tells the Hatter he may stand down, and the Hatter says he can't go any lower, the King remarks, "Then you may sit down."
    • Father William in the poem "You Are Old, Father William" has some choice replies for the incessant questioning of his son. (Contrast the rather staid and pious replies of Robert Southey's original.)
    • The March Hare also gets quite snarky with Alice at points.
    March Hare: Have some wine.
    Alice: (looks around) I don't see any wine.
    March Hare: There isn't any.
    Alice: Then it isn't very civil of you to offer it.
    March Hare: Wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Queen sentences the Hatter to death by beheading for "murdering the time" at the concert, the players at the croquet game for missing their turns and threatens to do so to everyone present if the Cheshire Cat isn't taken care of. in fact, the narrative says that ordering an execution is her way of dealing with any problem. Alice is noticeably relieved when she sees the King pardon the condemned, and the Gryphon later tells her that none of the executions are ever carried out.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": In Through the Looking Glass, Alice's cats include a kitten named Kitty.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: Literally in Alice's case, unsurprising being the Trope Namer.
  • Dream Apocalypse: Tweedledum and Tweedledee tell Alice this will happen to Alice herself if the Red King wakes up.
  • Dream Land: Both Wonderland and that which is behind the Looking Glass.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Besides Alice, only a few minor or unseen characters have names. The rest are only known by their species (the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle etc.), their title (the King, Queen and Knave of Hearts, the Duchess) or their profession (the Hatter, the Cook, the Footmen).
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: A variant in "Through the Looking-Glass". While Alice is riding on a train, the narrator describes all the passengers as "thinking in chorus", then confesses to not knowing what that actually means.
  • Expy: From one book to the other. The White King's messengers in "Through the Looking Glass" are Hatta and Haigha (Hatter and Hare). The John Tenniel artwork makes it more blatantly obvious; one drawing in "Through the Looking Glass" has Hatta in prison looking no different from Hatter's illustrations in the previous book. This is probably more The Cameo than expy.
  • Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either: When Alice meets the Unicorn, it asks what she is. When told that she is a human child, it replies, stunned, "I always thought they were fabulous monsters!" When Alice confesses that she always believed that unicorns were fabulous monsters, the Unicorn says, "Well, if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you," to which Alice agrees.
  • The Fair Folk: Not in appearance; but in their erratic Blue-and-Orange Morality and Lack of Empathy? Oh yes definitely.
  • Fantastic Diet Requirement: The Bread-and-Butterfly feeds itself with weak tea with cream in it, while the Snap-Dragonfly feeds on frumenty and mince pie.
  • Floating Clocks: A variation on this trope occurs in some adaptations, wherein Alice's fall into the rabbit hole is depicted with floating clocks everywhere — in these cases, she's not really traveling through time so much as she's traveling to another world.
  • Forgotten Trope: Carroll's Alice stories have outlived much of the Victorian trappings they satirize. His poem about the "little crocodile" parodies Isaac Watts's saccharine original about the "little busy bee" — an example of a whole class of Victorian poems that children were taught in order to instill virtue.
  • The Game Come to Life: One thing that slips the mind of many people is that Through the Looking Glass is basically an entire game of chess put to writing. It's most obvious with the sentient chessmen but even characters like Humpty Dumpty or the talking gnat can be considered chess pieces in the game.
  • Giant's Droplet, Human's Shower: The Pool of Tears is the result of Alice weeping when she's nine feet tall. Ties in with Crying a River above.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen of Hearts, well known for her catchphrase, "Off with their heads!" In her defense, she's hardly much worse than the other residents of Wonderland (the Duchess calls for Alice to be beheaded as well, for no reason at all) and is ignored when it comes to her orders for executions. (The King quietly pardons her condemned victims later, and Alice is relieved later when the Gryphon tells her that "They never executes nobody." The Queen herself apparently revokes the sentence against the Duchess on her own, so long as the Duchess vacates the property immediately.) On the other hand, the White Queen and Red Queen fully subvert this. Despite being respectively nutty and stern with Alice, both are still quite kind.
  • Gonk: The Duchess, until she stops adding pepper to the soup, which has been making her sneeze; afterwards, she becomes more pleasant when talking with Alice, who doesn't mind what she looks like. (She does object to the Duchess resting her "very sharp" chin on her shoulder, though)
    • The Queen of Hearts is usually portrayed as this, though her physical appearance is not described in the text.
  • Good Wears White: In Through The Looking Glass, Alice is saved from a knight in red armor by a knight in white armor. The White Knight is depicted as a bit of an oddball but is a good and kind man through and through.
  • Grammar Nazi: The Mad Hatter and March Hare are quite touchy about semantics and precise words when the Hatter gives an indecipherable riddle:
    Mad Hatter: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
    Alice: I believe I can guess that.
    March Hare: Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to that?
    Alice: Exactly so.
    March Hare: Then you should say what you mean.
    Alice: I do — at least I mean what I say; that's the same thing, you know.
    Mad Hatter: Not the same thing a bit! Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same as 'I eat what I see'!
    March Hare: You might just as well say that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like'!
    Dormouse: You might as well say that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!
    Mad Hatter [to the sleepy Dormouse]: It is the same thing with you!
    • And later on at the same tea party:
      March Hare: Take some more tea.
      Alice: I've had nothing yet, so I can't take more.
      Mad Hatter: You mean you can't take less; it's very easy to take more than nothing.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Alice is a great deal kinder and more patient than the infuriating creatures around her probably deserve, and appears to have blonde hair judging by the Tenniel illustrations. Although, curiously, Lewis Carroll may not have been intending this trope, firstly because he based Alice on a dark-haired child he knew in Real Life, and secondly because by Victorian social mores Alice's forwardness and curiosity would likely have been seen as rude.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The White Rabbit, in the darker adaptations.
  • Hanging Judge: The Queen of Hearts, although according to the Gryphon, they never execute anybody. How reliable the Gryphon is as a source is open to interpretation, as are the number of negatives in his assertion. There is one scene where the King quietly pardons everyone who she sentences to death at the croquet game, which makes Alice feel a little better. (Ironically, at the actual trial of the Knave of Hearts, the King — not the Queen — is the judge.)
  • Human Chess: The world behind the looking glass resembles real-life chess, after Alice falls asleep having played with chess pieces.
  • Hybrid Monster: In addition to the Gryphon, there's the Mock Turtle, a turtle with a calf's head, hooves, and tail. (This is likely because mock turtle soup, which the Queen says is made from mock turtles, is made from the discarded parts of a calf (specifically a calf's head), much like the discarded parts of cows are used to make low-grade hamburger in modern times.)
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Mock Turtle; all of the classes he tells Alice about are puns of school subjects. (Reeling and Writhing, Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision, Mystery, ancient and modern, Seaography, Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils, Laughing and Grief.) note 
  • Iconic Outfit: Alice's dress in John Tenniel's original colored illustrations. It even has its own Wikipedia article.note 
  • Identical Twin ID Tags: The Tweedles have their names embroidered on their suits.
  • I Fell for Hours: Alice's descent down the rabbit hole, which takes an incredibly long time.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Well, kind of. It is stated that "Alice often gave herself very good advice, but she very seldom followed it."
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Or girl in this case, being Alice after she eats certain things. Also inverted.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: When Alice is on the train in Through the Looking-Glass, the other passengers can apparently hear her thinking, and respond by thinking in chorus. Even the narrator isn't quite sure how.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Formally speaking, the logic is quite valid — only the premises are insane (and some particularly crazy premises are hidden — given implicitly). This is clearly a case of Author Appeal: compare Carroll's logic textbooks, The Game of Logic and Symbolic Logic note , which feature some deliciously weird examples.
    • For example, the Pigeon thinks Alice is a snake. Why? Because Alice eats eggs. And you know what else eats eggs? A snake! In the Pigeon's defense, though, Alice also had a long neck because of the Caterpillar's growing mushroom.
    • Also: Cheshire Cat — Dogs are sane. Dogs wags their tails when they are happy and growl when they are angry. Cats wag their tails when they are angry and growl (purr) when they are happy. Cats are the opposite of dogs. Cats are therefore mad.
    • The Dormouse tells Alice the story of Elsie, Lacie, and Tille, the three sisters who lived at the bottom of the well, and the Dormouse does his best to remain as calm as possible in spite of Alice's interruptions:
      Alice: "What did they live on?"
      Dormouse: "Treacle."
      Alice: "They couldn't have done that, you know; they'd have been ill."
      Dormouse: "So they were... very ill."
      Alice: "But why did they live at the bottom of a well?"
      Dormouse: "It was a treacle well. And so these three little sisters, they were learning to draw, you know—"
      Alice: "What did they draw?"
      Dormouse: "Treacle."
      Alice: "Where did they draw the treacle from?"
      Mad Hatter [interrupting]: "You can draw water from a water well, so you can draw treacle from a treacle well..."
      Alice: But they were in the well.
      Dormouse: "Of course they were... well in." "They were learning to draw, and they drew all manner of things — everything that begins with an M—"
      Alice: "Why with an M?"
      Dormouse: "Why not?"
  • Interspecies Friendship: There are several, such as the Hatter and the March Hare, the Gryphon and the Mockturtle, as well as the Walrus and the Carpenter.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    "You never had fits, my dear, I think?" [the King of Hearts] said to the Queen.
    "Never!" said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke.
  • It Was a Gift: Humpty Dumpty says his cravat was a gift from the White Queen for an "unbirthday" present.
  • Kangaroo Court: One of the most well-known examples in literature. The judge (the King of Hearts) asks the jury to consider their verdict before any evidence is given (the White Rabbit convinces him to hear the evidence, although none of the witnesses contribute anything useful), and the Queen has an odd view of how proceedings should go, believing that the sentence should come before the verdict. Also a blatant conflict of interest, as the Queen is the victim of the alleged crime.
  • Kid Hero: Alice.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Alice is very fond of her pet cat Dinah, and later of Dinah's kittens Snowdrop and Kitty.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: During the Queen's croquet game, Alice stops to chat with the Cheshire Cat. The Cat asks "how do you like the Queen?"
    "Not at all," said Alice: "she's so extremely—" Just then she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening: so she went on, "—likely to win, that it's hardly worth while finishing the game."
  • Lethal Chef: The Duchess' cook puts way too much pepper in the soup she's making (and it is implied later, everything else she cooks), so much that it causes everyone in the room except herself and the Cheshire Cat to sneeze. As if that weren't enough, she maliciously throws her cookware and pans at the Duchess and her son; Alice's reasoning for taking the baby with her is because she's certain they'll kill it if she doesn't.
  • Lilliputians: Everyone in Wonderland. Alice has to drink the potion to fit the size of the place.
  • Loony Laws: The Queen of Hearts was defined by being a woman that had to be obeyed on every single little whimsical law she made on the spot, even the ones that make no sense, and every single crime, no matter how small, all had the same sentence: beheading.
  • Long Neck: One side of the mushroom made Alice's neck so long that a bird mistook her for a snake.
  • The Mad Hatter: Strangely enough, the Hatter himself didn't offer many lines that exemplify this Trope. If any character fits, it would be the Cheshire Cat:
    Alice: But I don't want to Go Among Mad People!
    Cat: Oh, you can't help that, we're all mad here.
  • Magic Mushroom: The Caterpillar's mushroom is probably the Trope Maker. Eating one side of it made Alice taller, eating the other made her shorter.
  • Magic Pants: In the original John Tenniel illustrations and in nearly all adaptations, Alice's dress grows and shrinks with her. It's Wonderland — nothing else makes sense, so why should this? Averted in the Tim Burton version, however.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While Alice in Wonderland ends up being Alice's dream and nothing more, Through the Looking-Glass implies that Wonderland actually exists. Near the end of the story, the Red Queen is revealed to be Kitty's dream counterpart in the Looking Glass Lands, with the White Queen representing the other kitten Snowball. However, Kitty is implied to be well aware of her alter-ego and seems to flinch upon being confronted by the chess piece, as if it actually was the character in Alice's dreams. In the end, Lewis Carroll allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about what was real and what wasn't.
  • Meaningful Name: Alice has a name that means "Noble". Although this may have been a coincidence, as the name was that of a girl Carroll knew in real life, it becomes appropriate in the ending of Through the Looking-Glass.
    • For the record, "Alice" was a very popular baby name at the time, probably inspired by Queen Victoria giving that name to one of her daughters. Victoria shippers will be thrilled to know that she chose the name because it was the favorite girl's name of Lord Melbourne.
  • Merlin Sickness: The White Queen.
  • Midword Rhyme: The Mock Turtle's poem, "Turtle Soup", features the following:
    Who would not give all else for two p-
    ennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
  • Mirror Chemistry: Alice wonders if looking-glass milk is good to drink; this is likely the Ur-Example as it predates the scientific basis for the trope.
  • Mistaken for Insane: The Cheshire Cat assumes Alice is mad because she's in Wonderland, where practically everyone is.
  • Murder Ballad: "'Twas the Voice of the Lobster" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter".
  • Nursery Rhyme: The Queen, King and Knave of Hearts, as well as Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledee and Tweedledum are characters from nursery rhymes. So are the Lion and the Unicorn, but in that case the nursery rhyme was itself a reference to the preexisting national animals of England and Scotland respectively (as seen on the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom).
  • Nervous Wreck: The White Rabbit.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Alice is kind and polite to everyone she meets. This is in contrast to the White Rabbit, who apparently is upper-class enough for a servant, to whom he speaks rudely, and we later see him boot-licking the Queen of Hearts. Although in the Victorian era, Alice would have been considered a rude and impatient little girl. Etiquette has changed over the years.
  • No Name Given: Alice's sister, her brother, her nurse — basically every human that isn't Alice herself.
  • Not Where They Thought: Alice thinks the rabbit hole leads to New Zealand or Australia.
  • Ode to Food: "Turtle Soup" is a song about, well, turtle soup, sung by the Mock Turtle.
  • Old British Money: The Hatter's hat has a tag that reads "10/6". This is a price tag and indicates the hat costs ten shillings and sixpence; or a little over half (52.5%) of a Pound Sterling (and exactly half a guinea [21 shillings]). (Supposedly, the hat is one from his inventory.)
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: Put together, chapters 10 and 11 of Through the Looking-Glass (in which Alice wakes and the Red Queen becomes a kitten) have only 57 words (and two pictures).
  • Only Friend: Dinah, Alice's cat, is implied to be this for Alice, as she speaks fondly of her often. When Alice is falling down the rabbit hole, the only one she mentions possibly missing her is Dinah. Extends to Dinah's two kittens in Through the Looking-Glass.
  • Only Sane Man: Alice often plays this role to the various characters she meets along her adventures, though she herself sometimes does things that are a little peculiar (talks to herself, wonders whether she is Mabel, recites original whimsical poetry, has previously tried to box her own ears for cheating in a game of croquet against herself, and, in Through the Looking-Glass, she constantly converses with her cats). The Cheshire Cat asserts that everyone in Wonderland, including Alice, is "mad".
    • Indeed, just about any time a candidate for this trope appears they quickly subvert it; the White Rabbit is more stable and competent than his servants, but is a Nervous Wreck around everyone else. The Cheshire Cat is the only one in the Duchess' house who isn't yelling or throwing things, yet proudly considers himself mad. The Gryphon seems to fancy himself to be this, but is just as wacky as anyone else in Wonderland. And then there's Alice mentioned above. Out of all the characters in the story, the only straight examples seem to be the Caterpillar and Alice's sister.
  • The Pardon: The King of Hearts is as free with these as the Queen is with sentences of beheading, though he's lower key.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Take a wild guess. The King and Queen of Hearts hold court in Wonderland, with their Mooks being the lower-ranked cards. In fact, the lower ranks are further identified by their jobs: Spades are gardeners, Clubs are soldiers, Diamonds are courtiers, and hearts are younger members of the royal family. The court cards are, of course, members of the royal court.
  • Portal Picture: The titular mirror through which Alice walks through at the start of the second book, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
  • Portmanteau: While Carroll did not invent the word, its use in Alice inspired its shift of meaning to the current one.
  • Power-Up Food:
    • "Eat Me"; "Drink Me".
    • The mushrooms; one side makes you taller, the other makes you shorter.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Most adaptations cut out the satirical elements the books were originally known for. In many cases, this is since satire on mid-nineteenth-century English politics and culture is going to be lost on 99% of the audience. (In fact, many of the poems Carroll satirized only survive because he did so in the books. And in some cases, even that wasn't enough!)
  • Precious Puppy: Alice meets one when she shrinks down to a tiny size. Unfortunately for her, it's gigantic from her point of view, and runs the risk of devouring her.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Humpty Dumpty. Lampshaded with his frequent use of the word "pride" in his conversation with Alice prior to his fall off his wall.
  • Public Domain Character: Though Disney would have you think it was their property.
  • Pun-Based Creature:
    • The Gnat tells Alice about three Looking Glass Land insects. The rocking-horse fly looks like a winged hobbyhorse and lives on sap and sawdust. The bread-and-butterfly looks like what it sounds like and lives on weak tea with milk. The snap-dragonfly has a body of plum pudding and a raisin burning in brandy for a head. It lives on mince pie and frumenty and nests in a Christmas box. This last is the most obscure to contemporary readers, the pun being based on a popular Victorian Christmas game.
    • The Mock Turtle is stated to be what mock turtle soup is made of. Mock turtle soup is traditionally made with a calf's head, so the John Tenniel illustrations depict it as a sea turtle with a bovine head, hooves, and tail.
  • Pun With Pi: In Boris Zakhoder's Russian retelling (not translation) of the story, one of the poems Alice recites is about a mathematician and a little goat dividing a pie. In Russian "pie" is pronounced as "peerog", while "pee" is the Russian pronunciation of "pi" and "rog" means "horn". Therefore, by dividing a pie the mathematician gets the pi and the goat gets the horns.
  • Riddle for the Ages: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" The riddle was never intended to have an actual answer, but authors have hazarded several famous answers, including:
    • They both have inky quills.
    • Because Poe wrote on both.
    • Because there's a B in both and an N in neither.
    • Because it slopes with a flap.
    • They both only work right if put on their legs.
    • One is a rest for pens, the other is a pest for wrens.
    • Because they should be shut up.
    • Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes.
    • Eventually Carroll supplied his own: "Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front." ("nevar" being "raven" spelled backwards; editors for over a century saw fit to "correct" this.)
  • Random Events Plot: The books don't even try to have a coherent narrative. Alice falls down the rabbit hole / goes through the looking-glass, encounters one strange character after the other, and... that's it. Justified, since it's All Just a Dream, and dreams usually lack a storyline.
  • Self-Deprecation: The White Knight is widely believed to be Carroll's Author Avatar, and while he's one of the more likable characters in the Looking-Glass Lands he's also portrayed as clumsy, foolish and unoriginal (Alice recognises his "song of my own invention" to be actually the same tune as an existing song). Interestingly, the White Knight also engages in this trope in-universe, portraying himself in his own song as being so caught up in thinking of useless inventions that he continuously misses important bits of the conversation, and terrorising an innocent old man as a result.
  • Sentenced Without Trial: The Queen of Hearts is no stranger to ordering decapitations left and right for any sorry person who dares trigger her temper. After being framed by the Cheshire Cat for humiliating Her Highness during the croquet game, Alice is almost subject to decapitation herself. Thankfully, the King of Hearts interjects on her behalf and convinces his wife to give her a fair trial. However, at the trial, the Queen is ready to give the girl her sentence. When Alice tries to explain that she must have a verdict first, the Queen shouts, "Sentence, first! Verdict, afterward." Again, the King saves Alice's neck (and her head) by convincing the Queen to see some witnesses before carrying out the sentence.
  • Shapeshifting
    • Sizeshifter: Most of the transformations that happen to little Alice herself are her becoming more little than before or growing into a giantess (in relation to everyone and thing). "Drink Me" Potions make her smaller while "Eat Me" Cakes make her larger (maybe even her real size). With the mushroom it's a mix of both: one side of the mushroom makes Alice small... but makes all but her head and feet small. Another side of the mushroom makes her big again... but makes her neck so long that a bird mistakes her for a snake. Once she figured out how much to eat of each side of the mushroom, however, she took control of her own size shifting for the rest of the story (at least, until she starts growing uncontrollably at the end).
  • Significant Reference Date:
    • Wonderland implies that it takes place in May (when Alice thinks about the March Hare) and that it is the fourth of the month (when asked what day of the month it is by the Mad Hatter). Alice Liddell was born on May 4, 1852.
    • Similarly, Looking-Glass is implied to take place on November 4 (in the first chapter, Alice asks the kitten "Do you know what to-morrow is, Kitty?" and explains that a bonfire is being built in preparation), exactly six months after May 4. Alice later gives her age to Humpty-Dumpty as "seven years and six months", and to the White Queen as "seven and a half exactly".
  • Sleepy Head: The dormouse.
  • Spoof Aesop: In one chapter the Duchess responds to every piece of news with a moral, ranging from statements which are sensible but irrelevant to complete nonsense.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The hookah-smoking caterpillar, naturally.
    • In Disney's animated adaptation, he's even cooler, able to blow colored smoke rings in the shape of letters.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Alice's cat Dinah is allegedly "a capital one for catching mice" and loves to eat birds too — as Alice tactlessly mentions while talking to a mouse and a crowd of birds. Dinah also gets a saucer of milk every day at teatime.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: The entire book was cooked up off the top of Carroll's head; it would only be later, and after some persisting, that he'd write the whole thing down.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: The Sheep knits.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The Duchess is in a much better mood and is a lot nicer to Alice the second time they meet; Alice surmises that the pepper is what made her so foul the first time. (Unfortunately, now she's a little too nice.)
  • Trapped in Another World: She initially enters another world by following a white rabbit, but is pulled out at the ending as if it was just a dream.
  • Unconventional Formatting: The Mouse's "long and sad tale" is given as a concrete poem in the shape of his own tail. Compare calligrams and ASCII Art.
  • Unexpected Kindness: The Duchess shows a wild Hair-Trigger Temper the first time Alice meets her, so the second time Alice is immediately wary about her. However, the Duchess is sweet and kind towards her, and Alice muses that it must have been the pepper in her kitchen that made her so mad the first time.
  • Unicorn: Fighting with the Lion for the crown, and appearing as a character, in Looking Glass. (Based on the Royal Arms.)
  • Villain Protagonists: The Walrus and the Carpenter from the poem of the same name, although calling the two of them villains may be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, Alice finds both of them to be rather unlikeable.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While plenty of characters get dropped from the plot abruptly, the Duchess' Pig Baby is a notable example; after he turns into a pig Alice lets him go. The Cheshire Cat implies that he's looking for the baby later, but the baby never shows up again and the Cat never mentions him after materializing in the Queen's croquet ground.
  • White Bunny: The White Rabbit.
  • Wicked Heart Symbol: The Queen of Hearts is a bad-tempered despot who often orders to execute her subjects. Adaptations of the book often turn her into the main antagonist.
  • Wily Walrus: Trope Codifier. The Walrus from the poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" manipulates a group of oysters into following him so he can eat them. According to Tweedledee, he was also tricking his companion the Carpenter, pretending to weep for the oysters as an excuse to hold up his handkerchief and conceal the fact that he was taking more than his share.
  • World of Pun: Both books are famous for their word plays and allusions.

    Tropes in other adaptations of Alice in Wonderland 
  • Adaptational Karma: In Saville Clark's 1886 operetta, the Walrus and the Carpenter get their comeuppance for what they did to those poor oysters; while the duo sleep after their feast the ghosts of the oysters come back to haunt them by jumping on their stomachs, giving the two indigestion.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Queen of Hearts is often depicted as actually having people beheaded, instead of them being pardoned by the king.
  • Age Lift: The 1998 Channel 4 adaptation of Through the Looking Glass casts Kate Beckinsale as an adult Alice who was reading the Alice books to her daughter before her adventure. It includes the line where she says she's "seven and a half exactly", but with no attempt to make her look any younger, this just appears to be Looking Glass Land surealism.
  • And You Were There
    • An early silent film version features this where Alice tries to steal some tarts from the cook before her sister calls her out for an outing where she sees things like a cat in a tree. Caption: Things we do and see before we sleep often influence our dreams.
  • Aside Glance: In the 1966 BBC adaptation, an exasperated Alice does this when she's complaining about the Tea Party.
  • Camp: The 1985 version. Including, but not limited too, its gaudy production designs, hilariously ill-fitting costumes, proliferation of B-list celebrities, the washed-up former Broadway performers too old to achieve name recognition among the film’s demographic, and the largest blonde wig in cinematic history, that was worn by the 1985 version's star, 9-year-old Natalie Gregory.
  • Coming of Age Story: The 1985 TV musical has Alice learning to become a fearless, grown-up girl.
  • Composite Character: The Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen are often confused and made into the same character, despite very different temperaments.
  • Covers Always Lie: Some video stores do this with the Fiona Fullerton film, where they take Peter Sellers's face, slap it on the cover and try to claim he's the star so they can make a sale.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Leo McKern as the Duchess in the 1966 BBC adaptation.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The National Ballet of Canada staged Glen Tetley's ballet Alice this way, with most of the costumes in white or very pale pastels.
  • Dull Surprise: Done deliberately with Alice in the 1966 BBC version.
  • Ear Trumpet: Used by the King of Hearts in the 1966 TV adaptation.
  • Either/Or Title: Hanna-Barbera's 1967 revisionist special (aired on ABC) was called Alice in Wonderland, or: What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
  • Gender Flip:
    • In Frank Wildhorn's musical Wonderland, the Mad Hatter is a woman. In-universe, this is a Gender Bender (the Hatter is "new and improved"), brought on because the Hatter is Alice's Enemy Without.
    • In the 1985 version, Tweedledee is played by a woman. However this does not have any bearing on the plot.
    • The 1965 full-cast LP casts Fenella Fielding as the Dormouse, who is referred to as "him" in the book.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The Tea Party sequence in the film Dreamchild, a hallucination of the real and now very old Alice Liddell. The March Hare is a frightening creature with broken teeth (although he's outdone by the Hatter, who is a downright monstrous exaggeration of Tenniel's illustrations).
    • The March Hare in Glen Tetley's ballet Alice doesn't look especially scary, but he's far more aggressive than he is in many adaptations.
    • The March Hare in the Tim Burton movie is very aggressive, most of his interactions is hurling teacups and saucers at Alice, later when he's seen as the White Queen's cook, he is still throwing things aggressively across the room. (Could be an allusion to the Duchess's cook from the original story) Not to mention his fur is all ruffled to an almost rabid look.
  • Inner Monologue: The 1966 BBC adaptation translates a good chunk of the original novel into this, including some of Alice's conversation with the Cheshire Cat.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Nursely Alice, an abridged version of the original book, written by Lewis Carroll himself, aimed at a younger audience. It follows the general beats of the original story, but the narrator is a much greater presence, constantly directly addressing the reader and assuring them that nothing bad's going to happen... and occasionally going off on tangents that have nothing to do with the story at all, such as all of a sudden pausing mid-story to recount an unrelated tale about some children he knew and how they discovered that dogs don't like cinnamon oatmeal.
  • Medium Blending: The 1933 film is all live-action, except for the "Walrus and the Carpenter" sequence, which is presented as a cartoon quite similar in style to Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies.
  • Mining for Cookies:
    • We see a treacle well in the book.
    • Discussed when Alice asks if mustard is a mineral, the Duchess says that it is and that there's a mustard mine nearby. Upon hearing this, Alice realises that it actually isn't a mineral and tries to correct the Duchess but she won't listen.
  • The Musical: The 1972 Fiona Fullerton and 1985 Irwin Allen adaptations. Also the 1965 full-cast LP version.
  • Puppy Love: BKN's Alice in Wonderland: What's the Matter with Hatter features Alice befriending a younger Mad Hatter.
  • Queen Victoria: The Queen of Hearts in the 1966 TV adaptation has been costumed to look like her.
  • Running Gag: In Svankmajer's adaption, Alice has really bad luck with drawers. Whenever she tries to open one, she ends up pulling the knob out.
  • Setting Update: Of course, the overwhelming majority of adaptations keep the original Victorian setting. The most notable exceptions are probably Hanna-Barbera's Alice in Wonderland, or: What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, Disney Channel's Adventures in Wonderland, Syfy's Alice and Channel 4's 1998 adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Several examples.
    • The film Dreamchild, in which the elderly Alice Liddell sometimes watches her younger self, sometimes turns into her.
    • Glen Tetley's ballet, which has two dancers performing the role of Alice, one as a middle-aged woman and one as a child.
    • John Logan's play Peter and Alice has the octogenarian Alice Liddell on stage with the fictionalized child version of herself.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The 1966 version's effects derive from this and Alice's permanent Dull Surprise. Although all of the characters look like normal human beings in Victorian clothing (except the Cheshire Cat, a regular cat without a grin), they do things like take baths in the garden and shave in court. Alice never turns a hair.
  • Villain Song: The Jabberwock, the Bandersnatch, and the Snark sing "We're Bad" (song begins at 2:06 in the video) in the 1987 animated TV film adaptation of "Through the Looking Glass".
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: Alice in Wonderland, or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, the 1967 animated version by Hanna-Barbera.

Alternative Title(s): Through The Looking Glass, Alice In Wonderland