44 pages 1 hour read

Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1865

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Critical Context: Psychoanalysis

German psychologist Sigmund Freud would not invent psychoanalysis until the end of the 19th century, nearly 35 years after Wonderland’s publication. Nevertheless, critics have fruitfully used psychoanalysis to analyze the novel.

Freud developed psychoanalysis as a means to treat his patients’ psychological suffering. The theory emphasizes childhood development as the primary factor contributing to both normal and aberrant adult behaviors, and it focuses on repressed traumas and desires that exert a powerful influence in the unconscious mind. His first truly psychoanalytic publication was The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1899. The book analyzes and explains various examples of dream logic.

Wonderland is a perfect text for Freudian analysis because, first of all, its scenario—a story about a young girl in a fantasy land—resonates so well with Freudian concerns, especially in the early days of psychoanalysis. In Wonderland, a young girl on the verge of puberty has a dream that leads her on a symbolic journey through a fantasy world. Secondly, as is mentioned in the section of this guide on the motif of irrational space and time, both Carroll and Freud approached dreams from uniquely modern perspectives. Both were interested, although in different ways, in the idea that a kind of logic underlay or was intertwined with the illogic of dreams.