4 min read
Today is the day we wish a very happy birthday (or a very happy un-un-birthday...) to the fabulous Lewis Carroll, and offer up our thanks for the literary legacy he left behind - a legacy which remains ever strong and influential. Over one hundred and fifty years have passed since the publication of his 1856 classic novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (more commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland), and yet the story continues to touch the hearts of the masses who read it to this day. It's hard to not be moved by the brilliant and colourful madness of such a zany and memorable tale, which is why we're using this special day to explore Carroll's many wacky and wonderful characters - characters which make Wonderland worthy of its name, a world which would not be the same without each and every one of its unique inhabitants.
While you're here, don't forget to check out our vintage Lewis Carroll book collection for all you classy Carroll fans out there!
The creature that started it all, capturing Alice's attention as he appears in his waistcoat shouting "I'm late! I'm late!" as he hurries on his way. And honestly, can we blame Alice for following him down the rabbit hole? After all, it's not every day you see a talking rabbit fretting about their lack of punctuality in the English language. Quite the unpredictable fellow, the White Rabbit's personality seems to vary depending on where he is and who he's with, starting out as a shy and nervous character but showing himself to be nothing less than pompous and rude to those beneath him - and also quite the grovel to those superior. This erratic and unusual (though quite human) behaviour, especially from a small mammal one would usually acquire as a house pet, certainly sets the tone for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. And from here on out, things only get stranger...
Funnily enough, this is a character best remembered by a name never actually used or given by Lewis Carroll himself. Referred to only as The Hatter in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (though described as mad by Cheshire Cat in the novel), his eventful and riveting tea party is certainly somewhat mad, and definitely one of the most famous and iconic moments of both Carroll's book and the many adaptations that followed. Even his appearance and its variations have become a popular choice of fancy address. In a book filled with wacky personas, it takes an extra special one to be remembered as well as The Hatter - and, perhaps, that's because he's someone we can all relate to. I mean, who doesn't wish they could celebrate every day of the year with the same vigour and joy as birthdays?
Another character who is certainly a contender for one of the most popular created by Carroll is that of Cheshire Cat, which remains a pop culture and media icon long after its initial creation. Repeatedly showing its baffling abilities and confusing persona through a variety of strange acts, including its unusual philosophical ramblings (much to the annoyance of Alice) and its magical talent of disappearing at will - or making certain parts of itself disappear, such as at one point becoming nothing but a floating, grinning head - Cheshire Cat is nothing if not entertaining. Represented in one form or another in practically every adaptation of this story, Cheshire Cat's popularity has ensured that they continue to appear all over the world on the clothes we wear, the products we buy... and, most importantly, on the pages we read.
The caterpillar ever remains an interesting and captivating character, if not necessarily for his far-from-charming personality, but instead his appearance - a three-inch caterpillar with a human face who passes his time smoking through a hookah. I don't know about you, but I've certainly never seen a bug behave in such a way. And somehow, while he comes across as rude, dismissive, and arrogant when speaking to Alice with his cheerless comments and difficult questions, he has still cemented himself as one of the more popular, enjoyable, and memorable characters living in Wonderland. Perhaps that's because Lewis Carroll had a gift for making even the most unwelcoming characters lovable... or perhaps it's just because we're all a little grumpy at times.
Who could forget the beloved Dodo? After all, this particular character was fashioned after the author himself, serving as a caricature of Lewis Carroll within his own story. There is even one popular belief (although the truth of it has never actually been proven or clarified) that the Dodo was chosen by Carroll as a representation of himself due to his stutter - his full name being Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, he would often accidentally introduce himself to others as "Do-Do-Dodgson". While the certainty of this claim will forever remain a mystery, I think we can all agree that it's as good an explanation as any for a writer fashioning himself as a talking, extinct, flightless bird! At least dodos are remembered by many as lovable creatures even long after they're gone, which I'm sure we can all agree is a true representation of Carroll and his work.
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