Posted by: anniebutts | November 30, 2010

Games in Wonderland

Reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a simultaneously frustrating and amusing endeavor for me. In a few instances, I think that I may have felt as frustrated as Alice herself. There are a lot of things that I could say about the nonsense that defines this story, but I’d like to make a general comment that I was thinking about while reading it. The concept of a “game” in the Wonderland was a little puzzling to me. When I think about a game, I think of something fun and enjoyable, and also facilitated by a set of rules. The curious nature of the Queen’s game is that it is neither enjoyable nor does it seem to be regulated by any rules at all.

“The players all played at once, without waiting for turns, quarreling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in the very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ about once in a minute.”

Between the chaos of the game itself and the Queen shouting for decapitation, the “croquet match” is actually the opposite of what one might expect. In my mind, a lawn game facilitated by royalty definitely does not include hedgehogs and flamingos. The irony is inescapable. It seems curious that the Queen would not only allow for, but almost indulge in, chaos between the people she is supposed to be governing. Furthermore, she will eventually have no one to rule over at all if she orders for decapitations “about once in a minute.” I’m not quite sure where Carroll was going with this, but it seems as though the game might be a comment on the Wonderland as a whole. It is laden with frustrations and nonsense, and the lack of laws makes everything chaotic. An inverted game in an inverted world, I suppose.

As predictable as the ending was, I did find it strangely comforting to finish with some sense of order and reality.



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