This is an essay I wrote for a writing competition. I'm not sure if my teacher entered it, he said people might have problems with it.
No matter where I go someone has a story to tell about how Alice in Wonderland is all about drugs. While actually, there are some drug references in Alice, people who have never read the actual book tend to magnify them out of proportion.
Everyone cites the overtly drugged-out caterpillar and his hashish. Using this one chapter to generalize the whole book is like letting a linebacker wrestle with an infant. This is such an obvious reference! Too many people act like they’re smart for knowing this. It is human nature to want to be a part of a big secret, or to uncover a conspiracy. In the original book there was around two pages and a picture devoted to this caterpillar. If Carroll was trying to hide something he wasn’t doing a very good job.
The key reason people like to claim the Alice in Wonderland is all about drugs is our human penchant for picking things apart. In today’s world, we find it hard to believe anything could actually be wholesome. And for good reason...so many things look wholesome on the outside, but have proven to be rotten on the inside. Disneyland is plagued by urban legends, as is Mr. Rogers! People find it hard to believe that morality still exists. Humans as a species have evolved to be distrustful. This is a known survival adaptation, and is linked to why no one can really see if they’re good looking or skinny or smart. Humans have trained themselves to focus on the negative aspects of things.
Let’s bring into perspective the time and environment in which Alice was written. At this time in history, drugs were fairly common, and there was little awareness of the bad side effects certain drugs could have. Many people, including Carroll, took drugs.
A little known fact, since not many take the time to look into these things, is that this story was not well thought out. Carroll was on an outing in a rowboat with a friend and three children (one of whom, Alice Liddell, is Alice’s namesake). Someone asked him to tell a story, and he proceeded to invent what would later be Alice in Wonderland. it wasn’t until later that Carroll wrote it down. Looking at the circumstances surrounding the story, it seems illogical that Carroll would put tons of drug references into a story meant for children.
We must make allowances for the time period. Arthur Conan Doyle had numerous overt drug references in his Sherlock Holmes stories. This is often overlooked because children don’t normally read Sir Conan Doyle’s books, but this is becoming more and more common. As for Carroll himself, He was in reality known as Charles Dodgeson, a boring mathematician. When the Queen of England wrote to Dodgeson to compliment him on Alice in Wonderland and request another book, he sent her one of his math books! Dodgeson was also a bit eccentric, claiming he had no affiliation with Carroll. He would only write to his child fans under his alias and never under his real name.
I am not trying to say Carroll wasn’t odd or an addict, but I am trying to inform people of the background on Alice. How can someone make a decision on something when they haven’t even read the book? That is a form of hypocrisy.